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the picture perfect mother

published: 2012-10-09

A mother calls me this morning. She has just read a story to our kids’ class. She told them a little bit about America, which is where the writer of the story comes from. She had a towel with her of the American flag. Before I left this morning, I saw how she had draped it over her son’s tiny shoulders. How proud he had looked.
She is laughing on the phone: “..and at the end of the story the kids all ask whether I have a coloring page for them. Jesus Christ! Did you give them a coloring page?! You did didn’t you? Oh why don’t I ever prepare properly? I hate myself.”
I tell her she shouldn’t worry about it and that it was probably wonderful and so on, and she says that wasn’t the point, she just wants to compliment me and say how good it was of me to have prepared so well for the presentation I held to the class the day before. Yes, I had used powerpoint with pictures and had printed coloring pages to hand out.
For a moment, I am the perfect mother I myself usually avoid. The kind of mother who runs a company and goes jogging and pops out four kids and cooks meals with organic vegetables and makes sure her kids are prepared for whatever the event. Mothers should not be perfect, they simply can’t be.
I say to her, “but you have four kids and I have only one!” What I should be saying is, “but you have four kids and you’re happily married and I am divorced and see my son only 4 days a week and I guess deep down I’m hoping that maybe, just maybe, doing a picture-perfect presentation for his class might take away some of the sting for the fact that I have failed…”

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