As a young girl, I idolized my mother.
From her blonde frizzy hair and slightly crooked teeth to her bumpy thighs, I thought she was perfect in every way.
As an adult, I now “get” that highlighting those particular features may not make for the most flattering description, but to this day, I am grateful for them.
Those loveable, wonderful, imperfect parts of my mom taught me everything I need to know about being a parent myself. Here’s how:
As a mom, I make choices everyday: vacuum the insane amount of cat hair accumulating in the corner or go play at the park for an hour?
Exercise on my treadmill while my daughter watches TV or sit alongside her as we jointly build a staggeringly tall block tower? Spend an hour cooking dinner or lose ourselves in a Highlights Magazine Hidden Pictures marathon?
Rhetorical questions don’t need answers, right? I’ve come to understand that cleaning and cooking are a waste of my daughters’ childhood.
Though this decision leaves me with furious rounds of throw-the-toys-in-the-basket before friends arrive, I feel confident that our home is clean-enough and our meals are healthy, if non-gourmet. In this short window of time I have while my girls are young, we are savoring a lifetime of moments.
I learned all this from my mom. These days, her hair is smooth, with no trace of frizz.
Though this is the way she has always preferred it, I am grateful that when I was young and needed a mom to swim with, she was okay with being splashed and getting frizzed.
Likewise, I have crystal-clear memories of the days she dedicated to taking me and my brother to children’s museums, parks, and zoos, but I don’t recall at all whether our house was clean or messy on any given day. It never, ever crossed my mind to compare the straightness of her teeth or the size of her thighs to those of other moms.
What I do remember, on the other hand, was adoring her bright smile and thinking that I hoped that my legs would be bumpy and soft like hers when I grew up.
Though cellulite on my thighs is no longer my fondest wish, I still do want to be just like my mom in every important way.
She taught me never to let bad hair days, fur balls in the living room, or a missed workout keep me from sharing in the things that make childhood magical. As I grow into motherhood, I hope to be like my mom in every imperfect way.
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Signe Whitson is a mother of two daughters, national educator on bullying, and author of Friendship & Other Weapons: Group Activities to Help Young girls Cope with Bullying. Visit her at www.signewhitson.com, "Like" her on Facebook, or Follow her on Twitter @SigneWhitson