It all started Tuesday evening when Mateo made a comment about wishing I had picked him up earlier from school.
“Mom, why did you pick us up so late?” he asked.
I knew I was facing an unusually busy weeknight of work due to a client deadline once we got to home. In addition to it being bath night and dinner need to be made and homework checked. The mom guilt that always seems to be hiding just around the corner settled in.
“Teo, mom is doing the best she can,” I answered with a sigh.
After working until close to midnight on Tuesday night, fortunately on and off so that I could balance it with making dinner, giving baths, reading stories, and cuddling with my kids, I expected to wake up Wednesday morning feeling exhausted. Instead I woke up cheery and energized. Good ol’ adrenaline.
When Sienna jumped into our bed, per usual, she brought her teddy bear along. Teo soon joined us for cuddles in our bedroom. We talked a bit about the day, and I mentioned that I was driving to Irvine for work and would pick the kids up a little earlier than normal because I had the T-Ball draft that evening.
“Why can’t you pick us up a lot earlier?” Sienna asked. (Obviously, pick up time from the afterschool program is a big topic of conversation at our house!)
Mommy guilt reared her ugly head again.
Several months ago, I started doing “Teddy voices” with Sienna’s beloved teddy bear. Basically, I animate the bear like a puppet and he asks the kids questions, tells them wacky things, and basically is my irreverent alter ego. The first few times I did this, we were all in hysterics. It was a great release to have the cute little teddy bear say things that a mom couldn’t say to her kids.
“Teddy voices?” I asked the kids.
“Yes!” they cheered.
In a slightly deep, silly voice, Teddy asked the kids, “Do you know all that mommy has to do? What’s mom responsible for?”
Teddy went on to explain that mommy has a job which helps pay for our house, food, clothes, and fun. She’s going to be coaching T-Ball for the next few months too.
“What else does you mom have to think about?” Teddy asked.
“Insulin!” Sienna replied.
“Yes, she also has a very serious medical condition to manage,” Teddy replied.
We talked about my Stephen Ministry training and what mommy was learning. Then, Teddy explained, “But, most importantly, your mom makes your meals, cuddles and gives kisses, reads with you, and spends time with you. Everything ultimately is for you because you’re the most important part of her life.”
“I love you guys so much,” I said.
“You? You mean Teddy says that your mommy loves you,” Sienna corrected my slip-up.
“Oh yes, ‘Mommy loves you very much'” Teddy said.
This tender moment helped set the tone for my day. It felt good to communicate to my kids that mommy really is doing the best she can, while balancing a lot of responsibilities. By having Teddy tell them, they were more attentive and I could talk about myself in the third person. It helped me to step back and look at myself more objectively. Just as I give my kids a lot of grace to make mistakes as they grow and learn, I’m also growing and learning all the time. Giving myself grace to do “the best I can” helps take the pressure off me and hopefully shows the kids that we should be kind and forgiving to one another.