Making Memory Serve

“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”
For the Love of Naps  posted this quote yesterday, and it’s been following me around ever since. It’s very true, of course. 95% of the time I’m a great mom. I know this. I know this by looking at my kids, my house, our life. But that last 5%–the once in a while–is what gets me.
See, I’m a perfectionist. An A- was a source of shame. Bs weren’t in my vocabulary. I expect myself to be perfect, now more than ever. What if I’m not, and something were to happen to one of the kids as a result? I live in constant and vivid fear of that 5%, and my memory feeds right into it. It has a tendency to forget that 95%, the times I’ve locked up something dangerous from my kids or fed them something healthy or set aside whatever needed to be done to be there and present for them. It brings up the 5%, often with the dreaded: WHAT IF? Like the time I forgot to strap M’s carseat. It was a mistake, what could be a very dangerous mistake, that I hadn’t made before and haven’t made since. But still, instead of focusing on that, my memory brings up that moment as this: I forgot to strap him in and then someone hit our car and M was hurt all because I made one little slip. But that’s not WHAT WAS. What was is that M started crying halfway down the street and I pulled over and strapped him in, profusely apologizing, and have triple checked their straps from then on.  But my memory, prefers to rake me over the coals indefinitely. 
Living in fear, living in WHAT WASN’T, sucks. I won’t be perfect, always. God’s cornered the market on that one. So there will always be those moments of failure. But there is also 95% success! And joy that the failures that happened were without dire consequences! Because there will be failures with consequences, and those need to not be muddled up by what came in between. What came in between–the WHAT WAS–should be appreciated, as should the WHAT IS (you know, that thing passing me by while I’m all wound up about the WHAT WAS or the WHAT IF). 
WHAT IS today is that I am trying harder. WHAT IS today is that I know I’m a good mom because I’m still here for my kids, still trying, still pressing on in the face of that fear. We will all miss the mark; it’s not an excuse to stop playing the game. The WHAT IS today is good, and that–no matter what my memory will say–is the true memory of tomorrow. If memory really served, 95% of those memories are good, warm, positive. Which stands to reason that the 95% I’m yet to make will be good, warm, positive. That’s WHAT WILL BE.

4 thoughts on “Making Memory Serve

  1. Amen to this, sista! I was one of those kids in school too and strive against it as a momma. Some days it takes extreme mindbending to stop looking at what I DIDN’T get done and what I DID. It’s truly a conscious choice of what to focus on and what is truly important in the long run. Keep it up!

  2. The fact that you spend time worry about the small things that you may be doing wrong can only mean that you are a good mom!

    If I got it right 95% of the time, I’d be thrilled. As long as I get it right more often then I’m getting it wrong, I think I’m doing ok.

    Parenting is a learning process. Just as I think I’ve got it down, we enter into a new phase.

    I think we have to focus on the small wins and not worry about the small loses.

  3. I truly believe that if you put yourself in a place of acceptance and forgiveness for those times when you aren’t at your best, your kids are always better off. And I’m with Jane, if I got it right 95% of the time, I’d be flying high. I really think I’m like 70/30 or something like that. While I used to think of myself as a perfectionist, having kids changed all that. There is no perfect mom, no perfect parent, no perfect kid or sleep-style or potty-training or METHOD FOR ANYTHING. There are no perfect reactions, or disciplinary measures or standards. The only perfect is my love. And how much my kids know it’s there. And that one? I’ve got that up to 100.

  4. In hindsight, 95/5 was a bit generous on my part. Like hugely generous. But I’m also being more generous on what I consider “getting it right,” opposing it to “making a huge mistake.” There’s a lot of middle ground there.

    Love your point about 100% love, Sarah! I don’t think about that often enough. At least they’ve got something whole and pure, everyday.

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