As I accepted the usual acknowledgments, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this holiday was meant for “real” mothers, not someone like me.
Surely “real” moms don’t let their baby boy sprinkle himself in the face during a diaper change.
“Real” moms know how to cook meals that don’t come with directions on the back.
“Real” moms are full of wisdom, beauty and grace — none of which I possess in the smallest of measures.
At the very least, I assumed that a “real” mom should feel more prepared for the monumental task of parenting than I did just two years removed from my college graduation.
Some girls show signs of having maternal instincts at an early age. They nurture baby dolls, take younger siblings under their wing and spend their summers babysitting the neighborhood kids.
Instead of house, I played Fortune 500 business and always set myself up as the CEO.
The idea of being someone’s mother was so foreign to me that I can recall the exact moment that I began to wrap my mind around it.
Zac and I were recently engaged. One night, he shared with me that he had already picked out a name for a son if we were ever blessed with one.
(Wyatt has me to thank for not having to go through school as Lytle Walter.)
As Zac continued this conversation about our future children, I tried to hide the panic welling up within me.
This feeling returned as the nurse wheeled a sleeping Wyatt into my hospital room the morning after his birth and then left without a word of instruction.
In my mind, I was a 16-year-old who had been handed the keys to a new car without going through a single driving lesson or having a chance to read the driver’s manual.
In the few pictures that Zac snapped of me holding Wyatt that morning, a smile and tears of joy are noticeably absent from my face.
It wasn’t that I was unhappy. I thought he was gorgeous, perfection in the flesh.
Still, I was terrified that I would break him, and then the nurse would come back and repo him.
I would love to say that after I got a few diaper changes and midnight feedings under my belt that it all came naturally to me, but that would be a lie.
In that first year, I let him fall off the couch, roll off the bed and take a flying leap over the rail of his crib.
On Wyatt’s fussiest nights, I often found myself at my wit’s end after walking the floors with him.
It was then that Zac took charge and sang him to sleep with a repertoire that included everything from “Jesus Loves Me” to “Turn the Page.” Even now, the sound of Zac’s voice late at night puts him out like a light.
I did the best I could. He was always clean, dressed and well-fed. Eventually, I learned to keep him away from high places.
Wyatt is now a handsome 4 year old. He is smart, funny, strong and sensitive — still perfection in the flesh.
There are many days I worry that I’m getting more wrong than right as a mother, but then I look at him and realize, “He’s okay. He’s happy. He’s healthy. He knows I love him.”
I get the sense from other mothers that I’m not the only one who secretly fears that someone else is better at this than we are.
We compare ourselves to other moms like we are a Roseanne Barr in a world full of June Cleavers.
The truth is that most of us are far from perfect but equally far from failure.
A quote that I have carried with me since college describes parenting pretty well: “You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true, and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her.”
This Mother’s Day, I am rededicating myself to the little things that make a big difference to Wyatt — kissing boo boos, baking cookies, playing superheroes, saying family prayers at bedtime.
That girl who couldn’t imagine herself as someone’s mother had no idea what she was missing.