Sarah Williams on the Meaning of Being “Number One Mom”

Like all parents out there, columnist Sarah Williams sometimes questions her mom skills—but it’s always worth it.

By Sarah Williams

May 01 2022 at 8 a.m.

family of five
Photo courtesy Sarah WilliamsEverybody needs a humorous and candid take on parenthood every now and then. Sarah Williams captures those takes perfectly, she writes about the ups and downs of being a mother to five sweet kiddos—the good, the bad and the hilarious.

Do you ever think about how you are the absolute best parent for your child? There are billions of people throughout human history, yet you’re the one chosen to raise your precious children. And if you’re anything like me, you question your capability to do so on a consistent basis. My kids are smart and talented and funnier than I could ever have imagined. Yet sometimes they fist fight in public. They wear shorts in the  winter. Complain about dinner almost every night. And can’t remember multiplication facts.

I gleam with pride when they include someone who feels left out or say, “thank you” to a server without being prompted. Other times I want the earth to swallow me whole when they throw a tantrum at a restaurant or say something rude about a stranger. As if their voices can’t be heard.

Some days I wonder who decided I was qualified to raise five children because I don’t feel that way most of the time. There is so much I get wrong. But the amazing thing about kids is they don’t seem to notice. One day recently, I had a day. A very bad day. It culminated in me freaking out about the dumbest thing. I yelled, then I cried. It was ugly and embarrassing. And when I finally snapped out of it, I felt horrible.

I went on an apology tour to each of my family members, who were probably hiding from me and my mood. It ended with my teenage daughter saying, “It’s not that big of a big deal. We all tune you out when you’re in a bad mood. We know you’ll feel bad and apologize, so we don’t really care.”

While losing my cool is never justified, it’s also not beyond repair. And apparently, maybe not even noticeable. Which is kind of sad but mostly freeing. Especially because that same teenage girl confides in me. She trusts me with her secrets. And tells me her friends think I am funny even though they pretend I don’t exist. Sometimes I think I am the worst, but she still thinks I am the best. And it’s not because I do everything right. It’s because I am her mom. I love her well, albeit imperfectly. I am sometimes distracted but try to be present. I mess up a lot but apologize more. With all of my flaws, insecurities and  embarrassing moments, I am her favorite mom. She isn’t comparing me to anyone else. She isn’t keeping track of my mistakes. She’s not scrolling Instagram wishing I cooked healthier or made more crafts or decorated my home cuter.

Sure, lots of other parents do things better. But no one loves my kids like I do. No one knows their special bedtime songs or what makes them come alive. Their deepest fears or how to make them laugh. That’s a privilege reserved solely for my husband and me. Of all the billions of people on earth, they’re my absolute favorite. And I suspect they feel the same. Even when they seem not to notice I exist.