The Story of the Kindergartner and the Most Improved Hot Mess Mom

World's okayest mom meme

A friend of mine from school was over one day, and we got talking about becoming parents.

“I always knew I’d be a good mom,” she said frankly.

“Oh, really? Not me,” I replied.

“Why do you say that?” she asked.

“Because I’ve always been a hot mess for as long as I can remember. So I never assume I’ll be good at anything,” I told her.

It probably sounds shocking and somewhat depressing, but it’s true. And I joke about being the Hot Mess Mom all the time and, although I do generally get a kick out of it, the plain truth of the matter is that I wish I had a little bit of the perfect mom gene in there. I just don’t.

But ya know what? I kick ass in trying. And, quite frankly, I’m a slow starter. I know you shouldn’t really admit that, so this post will self-destruct in 30 days. But it’s the truth. I’ve gotten the “most improved” award in every sport that I’ve played. I was once told by my boss at a restaurant that he nearly fired me the first day on the job. I screwed up orders, got flustered, and burned my hands by grabbing a fajita plate without a glove. For real, yo. Anxiety can really mess with your mojo, and it always takes me a bit to get the nerves in check.

My oldest son started Kindergarten this year and, like everything else, it was a rocky start. I sent him to school in the wrong shoes (open-toed!). I went to the wrong door on the first day. And I ended up finding out that I hadn’t prepared him academically for the rigors that Kindergarten now entails. For the first time in my life, I didn’t take the Type-A freakazoid approach to his first “real” school experience. I ignored the Kindergarten prep courses his preschool offered. We spent the summer before school started swimming, playing, and laughing with abandon. Little did I know that Kindergarten is no longer the “napping on a rug” experience from my own past, but a jam-packed, exhausting four hours of numbers, letters, reading, and writing.

It’s not like I was told that he was slow … not even close. But he was behind some of his class in a lot of those areas. As the teacher explained to me, our district is known as the “country club” district, as a lot of the parents are well-educated, full-time workers who send their kids to Montessori-type daycare centers.

I did what I always have done, though, and I put my nose to the grindstone. I volunteered in the classroom like a maniac so I could pick up on how the teacher teaches. I read to him. I practiced writing with him. I had his grandparents do the same. I made flashcards. We downloaded computer programs. I bought a book on teaching your child to read. And ya know what? It’s worked. For all intents and purposes, he’s caught up to his peers. And he enjoys school, which is the most important part. There is no podium or trophy or medal. But I’m hereby awarding myself “Most Improved Mom”.

On the first day of school, I hurried over to bring him the right shoes. I was an emotional wreck from the events of the day, and tears threatened to spill over as I put his gym shoes on.

“Don’t worry, Mommy. It was just a mistake,” he said to me.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again but the unconditional love of a child is the most precious gift. If we could all learn to love ourselves without pretense as they do, the world would be a better place. Whether you’re a self-starter or a come-from-behinder like me, it’s time we all decided we’re doing the best we can in this challenging thing called parenthood. And that’s just fine.


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