I remember the first night it happened. It was 7:00 PM and I had just finished getting Ayva ready for bed. She had her story, I’d supervised her brushing her teeth, and she was snug and tucked in the bed. It wasn’t until I leaned in to kiss her that she said, “What? No dinner tonight?” Yes, that’s right. Mama Knows It All, Mother Extraordinaire, Brandi “Ayva’s Mom” Riley, forgot to feed her child dinner. I got Ayva out of bed and put together a plate of cheese, crackers and grapes, deemed it a “French Supper” and called it a night.
It was one of those parenting mishaps that I would have never imagined happening. Back before I had Ayva, I had a lot of opinions about the type of mom that I was going to be. No GMO’s, no fast food, and definitely no forgetting meals. Seriously, who does that? Certainly not a perfect mom. But, an actual mom…yeah, she might. I mean, clearly. I think folks who don’t have children underestimate the work that comes with being a parent. I know for sure that I took my parents for granted for years. I had a lot of criticism about the things that they did that I didn’t like, but not enough appreciation for the actions and sacrifices that they made. In my defense, I didn’t know. I really just didn’t know until I had to learn how to balance caring for my own child, working full-time, taking care of myself, being a wife, and having a social life every once in awhile. It’s not easy.
Being an actual mom is a lot more challenging than being a hypothetical mom, because actual kids? They have real life actual needs. They need to be bathed
every day occasionally, and they have extracurricular activities that they need rides to, and yes, they need to eat. Every single day. Once you’re in the parenting trenches, doing the work, you start to understand that even taking care of your child’s basic needs can be a struggle, and every once in awhile, you might want to give yourself a pat on the back. And then, if you have the chance, reach out to your own parents and let them know that you get it.
Growing up, I had 2 moms. My biological mother was in and out of my life at various times, but I always believed she loved me. My stepmom, though? Well, I thought my stepmother hated me. We didn’t see eye to eye a lot of the time. She would ground me, and tell my dad when I did things wrong, and we just didn’t get along for the majority of my teenage years. When I had Ayva, though, she was one of my main supporters and mom mentors. I called her for advice on what to do with this new responsibility, and I took her tips to heart. All of a sudden, with the birth of my own child, I understood that the things she did for me, she didn’t have to do. I got that by choosing to take care of my basic needs (and honestly, a lot of my wants), she was making sacrifices in her own life, and showing her love to me.
We have to remember this, Moms, that we don’t have to be perfect mothers to be actual mothers. Our children may not recognize the sacrifices we make as love, and they might not get the work that it takes to make sure even their most foundational needs are met. They won’t appreciate us, and that’s okay. Because one day, they’ll grow up to be actual parents, and it’ll all make sense. And they’ll finally, hopefully, forgive you for that one time you put them to bed without giving them dinner.