All of my growing up years, as far back as I can remember, I was fascinated by babies. I loved them. I couldn’t get enough of them and, like many little girls, I dreamed of the day I would be a mother.

As the oldest of six kids, I got in lots of practice and really honed my skills. Heck, I even washed out poopy diapers in the toilet. I was doing overnight babysitting from the time I was 15. Mothering was going to be a breeze.

I was 22 years old when my oldest was born (31 years ago, but who’s counting). I remember looking at his cute little face and wondering if I could teach him all the things he would need to know about life, about love and how to navigate this big, scary world of ours. What I did not know then is how much my children would teach me.

So here is to every mother who has ever learned lessons no parenting book ever contained.

Did you know teenage boys can eat unearthly amounts of food and be hungry two hours later? One of my sons once ate 32 pancakes and 12 sausages at one sitting. Another ate 29 pieces of pizza for one meal. And they kept it down. Impressive! And not in any book I ever read. And did you know teenage girls can actually eat almost as much as the boys? I didn’t!

Have you ever felt guilty because your children were slow to potty train? Don’t. My boys were 4 ½ and my girls about 3 ½. None of them went to kindergarten in diapers and yours won’t either. But remembering to flush the toilet? That’s another matter altogether.

Your kids probably never whined but mine thought it was an art form. They had a natural desire to excel, therefore practiced relentlessly.

And socks?! I hate socks. I love summer when no one needs to wear socks. Socks can’t even stay together as a pair for the length of time it takes to bring new socks from the car to the house. My poor husband’s socks disappear, sometimes before he has even had a chance to wear them and come back with holes in them.

I buy socks in black and in white so there’s a higher chance of at least matching colors. I once found one of our boys wearing a white baby girl’s sock and his Dad’s white tube sock. Not what I meant. Did I mention I hate socks?

Moms without Instagram-ready homes, I hear you! I’ll never spend four-hours staging a food photo — the kids would have eaten all of it by then anyway. And kitchen counters in the background? Sheesh. The dishes are never-ending. I haven’t scrapbooked since 2000 and my idea of a craft project is something that can be knocked out in bulk and in five minutes or less. Play-Doh used to be a banned substance in our home — as did chewing gum — because I got so sick of scrapping it out of carpet and cutting it out of hair. And walls? Who knew that walls make such fine places to deposit one’s boogers?! I swear, no parenting book ever mentioned that.

To you crafty moms (and I know you exist!), I admire you but my Pinterest boards are just places to put things I will never do.

And really. Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to re-wash clothes because they didn’t make it into the dryer. Yup, been there, done that. So.Many.Times. And, rewashing clean clothes, still folded, because they were thrown into the dirty clothes hamper and then had stinky clothes thrown on top. Just me? Darn.

In spite of all my imperfections — and any mother’s imperfections — it’s still been a lifetime of learning and loving.

To all the imperfect mothers out there — Happy Mother’s Day. May the burnt toast and dandelion bouquets remind you that you are loved. And for heaven’s sake, sit down. Your family can take care of you, just this once.

(Photo Courtesy Holly Richardson)

Holly Richardson loves being a mom, but doesn’t always love Mother’s Day, as she often feels she doesn’t measure up to some ideal June Cleaver mom. But, she sure does love her kids and has had so much fun watching them grow into competent, productive adults.