In an online moms group I’m in there exists a mythical award called the “MOTY Trophy.” M.O.T.Y. stands for Mother of the Year and I imagine it to be a gleaming, golden cup overflowing with sarcasm and self-deprecation because it has absolutely nothing to do with our finest parenting moments. As a matter of fact, the MOTY Trophy is reserved for the face-palm and gut-punch moments of motherhood where we feel we have missed the mark and are not feeling too proud of ourselves.
MOTY-worthy moments can range from the giggle-inducing to the downright painful to both body and soul. But the common theme seems to be that they all tap into the deep sense of regret we feel as moms whenever we have been less than perfect when it comes to our kids. At times it can seem just the teeeeeeeeensiest bit absurd, is cereal for breakfast REALLY a parenting failure? At my house my kids would find that to be the best bit of mom-work I had done all day. But sometimes it can be deeper than that and really leave us questioning whether we’ve TRULY been slacking on the job and have let our kids down.
“Pass the MOTY Trophy, y’all, my nine-month-old just rolled off the bed and bonked her head.”
“YOU GUYS! I feel like Mother of the Year over here, my kid has actual eczema and all this time I thought it was just a little rash…”
“I feel like a horrible mom, I yelled at my kid tonight…definitely needing the MOTY Trophy over here.”
My very own personal MOTY highlight reel includes but is not limited to:
-Both of my children rolling off the bed as infants, one time (ok, more than one time) when my back was turned and another (or two) when I just couldn’t move fast enough.
-COMPLETELY missing that Kenzie had torticollis until her pediatrician caught it at her two-month checkup (it was SO! OBVIOUS! How did I not catch this?)
2-month-old Kenzie with that DECIDED crick in her neck from Torticollis.
All her pics look like this. HOW DID I NOT SEE IT!!!
(Also, FOOTBALL LEGGINGS!)
-Newborn Cameron taking three weeks to get back to birth weight because of breastfeeding struggles.
-A call to poison control because Kenzie had grabbed a handful of my thyroid meds, shoved them in her mouth, and chomped down AS I WAS DRYING HER HAIR! What the heck was I doing having synthroid bottle doing with the lid not locked and how did I miss that she had picked it up when she was RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME?!?!?
-Smacking Cam’s arm pretty hard out of instinct when he hit me in face while strapping him into his carseat
-Other less-then-ideal reactions (read: white-hot rage) to Mister Cameron’s uniquely irksome brand of boundary-pushing and indignant determination.
-Taking Cam in for a croupy cough only to have the doc tell me she was far more interested in the doozy of a rash on his face which he needed prescription ointment for that I had thought was just from drool and had been vaselining all day (turns out that made it worse).
-Way, way, waaaaaaaaaay too much screen time.
-Even more screen time.
-And did I mention the screen time?
But after four years of watching my own MOTY moments and seeing those of others in our online mommysphere, I’ve come to realize that sometimes those moments in which we see a tear in our Supermom Cape can also yield our finest hours, if we are willing to let them.
First of all, it’s a chance for us to set an example for our kids of how to do life in the real world. We are not raising them for a perfect life, they will stumble along their own ways as well and if they’ve never seen healthy responses or had imperfection normalized for them, imagine how much harder it will be when their time comes. We can model for them the art of NOT taking themselves so seriously, picking themselves up when they stumble, and getting creative in order to find solutions and make things right. They can see that even Mommy’s feelings get the better of her sometimes and when we treat someone we love badly, we acknowledge our mistakes, say we’re sorry, and make a plan for how to do better next time. We also are building an arsenal of anecdotes to share with our kids when (God-willing, right?) they become parents themselves and are facing their first moments of self-doubt and discouragement.
These moments also allow us to shore up and invest in other moms. I have seen AT LEAST half a dozen “HOW DID I MISS THIS” MOTY posts specifically about Torticollis since we went through it with Kenzie and I’ve been able to jump in and say, “Girl, me too. TOTALLY missed it. But here you’re a GREAT mom and baby is so lucky to have you. Also, here are some encouraging before and after pics J ” I never would have had the privilege of connecting with that mom in that moment if I hadn’t walked through that MOTY moment myself. I also remember other moms investing in me when I was struggling to nurse Cam in the early days, their imperfect journeys normalized mine for me and gave me the courage and determination to keep going.
You guys, I don’t even think it would even be helpful if we were perfect moms all the time. Resilience and empathy are EXPERT-LEVEL life skills that we should be doggedly pursuing for ourselves and modeling for our kids and MOTY moments are prime opportunities to live into that. So, my fellow moms, let us go forth and bravely screw it all up, OK, maybe we shouldn’t be quite THAT brazen. How about instead we go forth and do the best we can and learn to embrace the teachable moments that are the screw-ups of motherhood. You can also join me in praying that my MOTY moments never get TOO big because I promise you that it is only by the grace of God that mine haven’t ever been bigger than we could come back from. But let’s trust ourselves and our fellow moms, pursue resilience, empathy, and authenticity, and keep celebrating and lifting each other up as we pass around the MOTY Trophy.