I’m not a dollhouse mom.
I don’t know where to put the people or what they should be doing or how to make them talk to my 3-year-old.
I don’t enjoy laying on the floor, or making up stories, or counting acorns in the backyard.
Even when I was younger I wasn’t super into kids or babies. I had a couple babysitting gigs in college (only if the kids were old enough to talk and the parents were rich enough to pay more than my work-study job) but even then, I quit as soon as I landed a waitressing gig.
I’ve just always thought of myself as not very maternal.
And then I went and had two babies, at 25 and 27 years old. And despite all those years of doubt and apprehension, I became a mom anyway. Because apparently wide hips matter more than maternal instinct when it comes to creating kids.
About a year after Lucy was born I hit my breaking point. I just couldn’t fake it anymore, and I was overwhelmed with guilt about my inability to be a “good” mom to my girls. I called my therapist and cried.
“I think there’s something wrong with me,” I told him. “I hate counting acorns and making forts and doing crafts. I would literally rather be at work than playing dolls with my own children.”
I cried and cried for almost the entire session as I listed off all of the ways I was bad at mothering my children.
And then finally he stopped me and he asked, “when do you feel happiest with your girls?”
Well, I love taking them to the beach, or hiking – I told him. I love bringing them to museums or parks or to explore new things. I love seeing the world through their eyes and all the excitement it adds to our lives. I love watching them interact with their friends and teachers, and I feel so proud of them when they face their fears or learn something new.
“Those are all things a good mother would say,” he interrupted.
And I paused.
“You don’t have to be a dollhouse mom to be a good one,” he went on. “You can be the hiking, swimming, beaching, reading, learning, playing, adventure mom. Because she’s a good mom, too. Even if she doesn’t like playing dolls.”
And then I cried again because my whole world turned around in that moment.
My mom was, and is a dollhouse mom. She is a counting acorns, making crafts, imaginary play kind of mom. And she is magical.
So I just assumed that if I wanted my kids to be happy, I had to be her.
But as it turns out, my kids already have her. And they have Aunt Kelley and Daddy and Grammie Carol and Meme and so many others…all of whom love to do crafts and play pretend.
And then they have me. Lover of adventures and jokes and donuts in the drive thru.
Master of tickling and reader of books and creator of epic birthday parties.
At Mia’s last parent teacher conference they told me she is a model student. Listening and working hard and demonstrating excellent social skills with her classmates.
And I was like, she sounds so great – but what about my daughter Mia?
And they were like, no really she’s so sweet. She just saves all her crap for you because she knows you’ll love her anyway.
And that’s the truth. I love her unconditionally. So if she trusts that love enough to tell me to stop talking to her in my “loser voice” as she slams her door so hard that the molding comes off – then I guess I am doing good enough.
Even if I suck at playing dolls.
So here’s to all the drive-thru donuts, not-very-good-at-playing-dollhouse moms. Happy Mother’s Day to you, too.