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From the moment I held our firstborn in my arms, I wanted to be Supermom.

I had a vision of the perfect mother. Calm, yet assertive. Generous with affection. Nurturing, protective, patient and kind. Creative and fun-loving. Teacher of life lessons, virtues, practical skills and common sense.

Early on, I believed that with hard work, I could master the noble skill of raising little human beings into productive, secure, well-adjusted adults. I envisioned our family of five interacting at dinner tables filled with laughter and home-cooked meals, reading books before bedtime, playing “my father owned a grocery store” while rolling down scenic country roads in our minivan packed with nutritious snacks and vacation suitcases.

However, after a decade of hard work, I still wasn’t Supermom. I can’t remember exactly what made me realize this. Maybe it was when Hayden stole a candy bar from the base Shoppette after school. Or was it the time Lilly forged my signature on the parent report about her disrupting her second grade class? Maybe it was that night 13-year-old Anna screamed “I hate you!” in my face. It could have been any one of those afternoons when I forgot to pick them up from school. I hope it wasn’t that New Year’s Eve party when I drank too much and twerked on our kitchen table in front of them.

Whatever it was, I blamed myself — if only I worked a little harder, was more intelligent, had more patience, I could be Supermom.

It took several more years for me to finally accept the reality that I am flawed, just like every mother since the beginning of time. It was impossible to control my children’s destinies, assure their successes or protect them from every danger, negative influence or disappointment. Supermom, I now understand, doesn’t exist.

Now that our three children are in their twenties, I’m on the lookout for signs that, despite the impossibility of perfect parenting, all those years of mothering effort were not in vain. I watch for clues that maybe, just maybe, I did something right.

Hayden, Anna, and Lilly are in a post-teenage phase where they no longer complain that I’m a complete embarrassment. Instead, they now see me as a humorous curiosity and enjoy pointing out my idiosyncrasies. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and I’ve noticed a hint of affection in my children’s eyes when they mock me.

I’ve also noticed that my children copy me as they establish their own adult habits and routines. Lilly folds her socks the way I always did. Anna makes daily to-do lists just like me. And Hayden insists on continuing every holiday tradition that I began when they were small.

When the kids were young, I infused every special occasion — birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter — with traditions, foods and activities I knew they’d enjoy. I thought their interest in Easter egg hunts, Christmas crafts and birthday games would wane as they aged, but instead, I see evidence that my efforts as a mother all those years ago are etched onto their permanent psyches.

Which is why I bought bunny Pez dispensers, pastel foil-wrapped candies, miniature toys and jelly beans last week. According to Hayden, Easter isn’t the same without an egg hunt with his siblings.

Therefore, I’ll stay up late Saturday night filling 75 plastic eggs for my adult children.

On Easter, in between cooking ham, scalloped potatoes and yum-yum cake, I’ll hide those eggs around our house and yard. They’ll line up for instructions — how many eggs and what colors each person can collect in addition to the “wild card” multicolored eggs. When I yell “GO!”, my husband will snap photos of our son (a software engineer with a full beard) and our daughters (taller than me) running, pushing, grabbing eggs and laughing. Inevitably, the dog will steal an egg or two. When the hunt is over, they’ll sit at our kitchen table, open eggs and negotiate serious candy swaps.

I may have never been Supermom, but watching my adult children relive happy childhood memories and traditions has finally convinced me.

You done good, Mom.

Read more at themeatandpotatoesoflife.com, and in Lisa’s book, The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com. Email: meatandpotatoesoflife@gmail.com

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