One Hundred Percent

Kathy Glow essays

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I used to think I was a great mom.

When my twins were babies, I thought being a great mom meant I was present for every smile, every coo, every shake of the rattle. I never cleaned my house or did chores while the babies were awake, unless it was to fold clothes as they played around me on the floor.

I was in some kind of new mom bubble, thinking that I had to devote 100% of my attention to my sons or I would inevitably screw them up somehow.

But then life moved forward, and little babies turned into toddlers on the move, who turned into big brothers to more babies, who turned into little brother toddlers to school-aged kids who played soccer and went to Cub Scouts and had homework and wore three pairs of clothes a day that all had to be washed by the next school day/soccer game/Cub Scout meeting.

It was getting harder and harder to give 100% of my attention to four little people and one big person (two if I included myself).

Cleaning up the kitchen started taking the place of an after-dinner walk. The mountains of laundry had to be tackled before I could go to the park. I needed just ten minutes to answer some school e-mails before I could read bedtime stories.

And then, one day, people stopped asking me to take a walk, or go to the park, or to read a story.  And I began to hear rumblings of ‘Mom’s on her computer again.’ And ‘C’mon, let’s go outside. Mom will be cleaning the kitchen all night.’ Cue the mom guilt and the visions of future therapy bills because I was sure that by only giving them 50% at best, I was screwing them up.

I began to realize that the beginning part was the easy part. Being present in the beginning, when all I had was two little people’s rapt attention all day long, was easy. I could do anything and be a great mom.

Now with my time and attention being pulled in dozens of different directions, the opposite is true. I can do something and feel only like a terrible mom.

I am typing away on my computer and my two-year-old, body warm and sweaty from play, wiggles his way on to my lap between me and the computer screen, book in hand. “Read this book, Mommy?” He asks with hopeful eyes.

I start to say, “In a minute,” but I realize it’s not enough for me to give 50%. He needs me to be present with him. I decide then and there that while I may not be able to drop everything every single time someone needs me, I can give 100% in the times that I am able. I can be that great mom again, no saving for therapy necessary.

I used to think I was a great mom.

Correction: I AM a great mom. One hundred percent.

About the Author

Kathy Glow

Kathy Glow lives in a house of all males-a husband and four lively boys. When she is not wiping boy stuff off walls or driving all over town in her mini-van, she is blogging about what life is really like after all your dreams come true, including the loss of one of her sons to cancer. Her blog is .

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