The Paper Bag That Made Me Cry

It was 6:27 am on a normal Wednesday morning. The kids were eating breakfast as I scrambled to fix my hair before we had to leave. My husband called for our four-year-old to head to the truck so they could make it to preschool drop-off on time. Because of preschool opening time and the time my husband has to be at work, they have to stay on a strict departure schedule each morning.

That’s when I saw it. The cute little paper bag with my son’s name on it and a note about bringing show and tell items. It sat empty on the kitchen counter. No objects of the designated color had been hunted down the night before and carefully placed into the bag so he could proudly reveal them that morning. I had three minutes to find something brown that would fit into the paper bag, and be fun for him to talk about with his classmates.

I can’t even remember what I haphazardly tossed into the paper bag that morning, but in that moment my heart just felt so heavy. In the grand scheme of things, one overlooked show and tell is meaningless, but that morning it felt like more. It felt like I had failed my child.

I try so hard to make sure everything is just right each night before I go to bed. With four kids, full-time jobs, and a household to manage, my husband and I have a lot to do after the kids are asleep every night. I move around the house for hours each night packing the diaper bag, doing laundry, checking backpacks, writing checks for lunch money, and signing reading logs. I try so hard to make sure I’m doing enough. I want my children to have everything they need to be successful, and I want them to look back fondly on the way I cared for them.

But the truth is, sometimes it is just too much.

I’ve learned over the last decade of parenting that I can’t be perfect. So why does it hurt so much when I feel like I fail? I know that with the weight I’m carrying as a mother, I’m bound to make mistakes here and there. My mind knows that it is impossible to be everything to everyone all the time.

But my heart. My heart wants my family to have the great mom that they deserve. The mom who bakes fresh cookies each week, who always has them to practice on time, and the mom who never yells at little people who aren’t getting in the car fast enough when we’re rushed.

It’s a constant battle trying to decide if I’m getting it right. I read articles telling me to “let the laundry wait, because babies don’t keep,” but there’s also the blog post saying “don’t feel guilty for cleaning the house instead of playing with your kids if it makes you a better mom.” How do I know that my enough is enough? What guarantee do I have the what I’m doing will bring my kids the happiness and success I so desperately wish for them?

Allison Smith
Allison Smith
I’m Allison, a wife, mommy, and educator just trying to be a little better today than I was yesterday. I’ve been married to Mike, my high school sweetheart, for seventeen years. We experienced deep loss and great joy as we built our family. We are so thankful to have four precious, energetic little boys with us, and our triplet angel sons watching over us. Josey, Gavin, Parker and our newly adopted son Jensen keep the house full of (loud!) noises and non-stop laughter. When I’m not in the classroom you’ll find me cheering for one of my boys at a sporting event, or enjoying some time just for me while I get in a workout.

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