On Trying to Be a Vulnerable Mother

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”

― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

I believe in the power of authenticity and vulnerability. I believe in it as a writer. I believe in it as a wife. I believe in it as a friend. And I believe in it as a mother.

That last one can sometimes be tricky…

I want to be respected by my kids, obeyed and looked up to. I want to inspire confidence. I sometimes want to be Mom, Great and Powerful, and so maybe it’s not the best idea to let them peek behind the curtain.

What does vulnerability look like with your dependents

Today it looked like apologizing for changing plans and acknowledging that yes, Eve was right, I said we’d go to the park and now we were not going to the park and the reason was that mommy had spent too much time on the computer.

It also looked like admitting that yes, sometimes mommy and daddy eat unhealthy food when the kids go to sleep.

Yesterday I laid in bed with the girls and we talked about Mommy’s weaknesses. I doubt I picked the topic—preschoolers are notorious critics—but I’m sure I welcomed it (or tried to), because I’m trying to be authentic. Because I’m not perfect and my kids know it and we might as well talk about it. So we did.

I told them I’m easily distracted and I forget things. I told them I’d promised to send a blog reader a book more than a month ago and I hadn’t yet. Even though I had notes to myself all over the house and even though I write it on my hand in permanent marker once a week. London chimed in and said I was definitely forgetful, reminding me of the time I forgot to send birthday cookies to her school three days in a row and how by the time I did send cookies nobody remembered whose birthday it had been and the cookies were decorated like Christmas cookies.

Right, I said. I do things like that.

Then I said sometimes it’s hard for me to play pretend with them because I get distracted and can’t remember which character I am, and they nodded and agreed that I’m terrible at pretend.

I said, “Those are some of the things I’m bad at. I will try to remember important things and not be distracted, but no matter what, that will always be hard for me.”

They nodded. “Mhmm.”

And then, because authenticity isn’t self-deprecation, I invited my kids to praise me. I said, “But what is Mommy good at?”

London said writing, though she’s never actually heard any of my stuff. She is impressed that my picture is on the computer screen with words beside it.

Eve said, “Being our mommy.” And I said, “Thank you, Eve. I agree.” And I tickled her until she giggled.