Hello friends,

My daughter’s second birthday was this last weekend, and as we ran around desperately trying to get everything together for the party I didn’t really feel like having, for someone who wouldn’t know the difference but our society loves to see anyway…I felt like a total failure. I couldn’t even have my ish together enough to not have to plan this thing last minute, like seemingly everything else in our lives.

And seriously, what kind of a mom doesn’t feel like throwing a birthday party for a two year old? They’re adorable, all dressed up and impressed with literally everything. There is constant, absolute wonder in the eyes of a two year old.

(Pssst!  Pin me for later!)

What kind of a mom can never get her act together enough to at least have an idea of loose details of what needs to be gathered before the eve of said birthday?

Just once, could I maybe be a good mom? One that loves to dote on her birthday girl so much, that she even called ahead to order balloons for pick-up? Not that all of the decorations need to be handmade, but maybe…just a couple this time? My non-attempted pins keeps screaming at me.

Nope, not this time either. I waited in a long line for those balloons, an hour before the party. Picked up an ice cream cake on the way, decorations thrown into brown paper bags for transport and hopes to have enough time to assemble at least some of them on-site.

Typical.

See also: To the Hot Mess Mom

Guests started arriving, and I was still setting up. The first toddler that arrived burst all but one balloon. I forgot a pen and notebook to make notes for thank you’s, and the breeze kept knocking over the table décor I managed to get on the stupid picnic table.

Whoa. Wait a minute. Is this thing about decorations, or about the chubby-legged girl twirling next to me, in her pretty dress and Ariel tiara?

“Baby, you’re so beautiful! You’re getting so great at your twirls!”

She looks up at me, absolutely beaming.

She doesn’t know it’s her birthday, she doesn’t remember her last one. She has no idea why these people are here, what gifts are or where they should be set up, or what decorations are out.

She just knows her mama told her she’s beautiful. Her mama smiled at her and said she does great twirls.

No matter if your child is two or twenty-two, or how often you make a note of how you messed up, there is literally only one thing your child will ever care about.

How present you are.

See also: When You’re Drowning in Mom Life  or How I’m Managing Mom Depression Without Medication

As a mom that struggles with depression, I constantly get wrapped up in the small stuff, and how much I’m failing at all of the stuff. Most days, it’s a struggle to understand that it’s not the small stuff that matters, it’s the small one in front of me that matters.

It’s on my difficult days that I have to show up most for her. It’s the days that the only reason I got out of bed is because she can’t get her own breakfast and if I let her run the house I’ll be spending so much time scrubbing red marker off of everything later and it’s not worth it to feel sorry for myself to have to deal with that…those are the days where snuggles and movie commentary rule life.

Some days, I’m super mom, playing at the park after library story time while dinner is in the crockpot. Other days, we’re just so busy or I feel way too lousy. But any day, the only thing I need to worry about is being present.

No matter what form it takes that day.

There will be plenty of other times I can impress friends with a cute party. There are only so many times I get to show her what she means to me.

Make sure to embarrassingly squeeze the stuffins from your own babies today, no matter if they’re two or twenty-two. 😉

Have you had to re-evaluate the scope of your attention recently too?  I would love to read about it in the comments!

Ashley

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27 thoughts on “The Only Thing You Need to Do to Be a Good Mom

  1. This is SUCH a beautiful post! I am definitely one of those moms who forget about birthday parties and such until the last possible minute, but my daughter had ended up having the best time at all of hers–and it was because my husband, her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and I were there. 🙂 It’s amazing how much being present shows your child that you care!

    1. Thanks for the validation Natalie! I feel like that, above theme/gifts/decor/etc is what our kids will actually remember. Thinking back to when I was a kid, I know I had two birthday parties…my mom was a single mom for awhile. To be honest, out of two parties, I don’t remember much of either of them. BUT, she still insists on making this amazing double chocolate cake with buttercream frosting, and we (with my hubs and child added) sit down to a delicious meal at the table and hang out, like we always have. Thinking about that made me come off my decoration high horse pretty quickly. 😉 Glad you enjoyed!

    1. You’re a doll Elise! I’m 31, and my mom still makes me this incredible double chocolate cake with buttercream frosting, and we just sit at the table and talk for my birthday, just like it’s always been. Glad you enjoyed, and was even reminded to be present with your big kid. 😉

  2. Awesome post…I can totally relate. Sometimes I find myself so engrossed in my blog at the expense of being present. It is such a balancing act.

    1. Great point Marthilde! I blog, but I also work from home as a recruiter. I figured out that I have to set a timer to get off my chair often and play with my daughter at her level, instead of just making her play at my feet. You’re right, it’s a tough balance!

  3. Such a good post! I personally HATE the hullabaloo that goes on with birthday parties for 1/2/3 year olds. They aren’t going to remember it at all. It’s all for us – to show that we’re a ‘good parent’. I’m not with my son’s father, but we have VERY different ideas when it comes to some aspects of parenting – and probably about birthday parties. I have five months to prepare and I have absolutely no idea what to do for my son’s birthday. I just hope I can be as present at his birthday as you were at your girl’s birthday! All a child wants is our love and attention. Everything else is just a bonus 🙂

    1. Exactly Kendel!! And to tell you the truth, other than inviting people, I did the “to-do” list done in the week leading up to it. We have a local free zoo an hour away, so I just told everyone to meet us at it’s park, claimed a picnic table, and had a zoo theme. Ta-daaaaa.. Although, if the weather had been bad (Sept in MN is a hit or miss), I had zero back up plan, so. 😉 She won’t remember it, guests thought it was an obvious and expected theme, we used one of their park grills, and done. Walked through the zoo as a group after. Pick something easy!

  4. So true. When my kids turned 1 and 2 (double birthday party) I remember being stressed out about making their cakes and finally thinking to myself: do they really care? They just want their mom and dad and cake (any CAKE!!!) LOL it doesn’t even need to be fancy and they’ll have fun.

    1. Right? Exactly Gayle! Especially that young, it’s not like they have anything to compare their cake to. 😉 I just feel like we often get caught up in the particulars and forget what the actual point is sometimes, no matter what’s going on. Thanks for saying hello!

    1. That’s really the thing! Plus, it’s not even judging other moms all the time…I find that I’m often my own worst mother critic. I’m not really competitive, but I I get so wrapped up into “keeping up” with others. As long as they’re happy and healthy, emphasis on the happy, priorities tend to just align if we only just realize we need to take a step back. Thanks for checking in Anne!

  5. My daughter is eight and I love kissing her and hugging her all the time. I want her to grow up one day and remember those little details. Thanks for sharing this :))

    1. Adorable Rosalyn! Really, when it comes down to it, I think our attention is really what they’re after. Your daughter will grow up always remembering you made time for her, and she’ll value that. Well, maybe not as a teen .;) Thanks for stopping by!

  6. This hit me right in the feels lol Mom guilt is so rampant these days with all the pressures on social media to be the “perfect mom”. All our kids want is our full attention! Thanks for the reminder 🙂

    1. <3 Thanks Bre! You're absolutely right, and we forget that social media is just a snap shot...I wonder how many YouTubers actually have laundry everywhere around them, even though the little patch we see is gorgeous. ;) Thanks for stopping by!

  7. You’re so right! When I’m feeling ungrounded and disconnected as a mother, I make my baby laugh and it brings me back. It’s an ongoing thing. Thankfully, I’ve totally accepted that I will probably NEVER do a pinterest craft, it’s just not my strong suit, so that guilt isn’t there. Would it be cool to be that mom? Um, I know someone who is that mom and as cool as her parties are, she doesn’t enjoy them because she’s too focused on everything being perfect. So, probably not. I’ll just focus on the giggles!

    1. I <3 your response Karen! Plus, the giggles are way easier to come by, and take zero planning, so...win! I love your word choice...ungrounded...probably going to steal that, it's more positive than "hot mess". ;)

    1. Haha, thanks Shell! Honestly, I don’t know how your generation survived, when you couldn’t just Google from the palm of your hand. 😉 I’m just glad I get to remember rotary phones and cheesy 80’s sitcoms.

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