When I was growing up, playing house was so borrrrring to me. I wanted to play “office” or “store’ or write musicals. But sitting around with my friends talking about our baby dolls? That made no sense to me. I’ve been thinking about this lately because I’m suffering a little from what I call IMS – Inadequate Mommy Syndrome. See, I still feel like I’m 10 sometimes, totally unsure about how to play house and bond with other girls over our kids.

This morning, as I was dropping Tru off at preschool {and apologizing to his teachers for completely forgetting his backpack, containing his essential snack and pull-ups}, I noticed three super-cute mommies in their darling outfits chirping hellos and describing their days to each other. I knew none of their names…or which kids belonged to them. I realized they were also happily putting kites in a box by the kids’ cubbies and I vaguely remembered a note – stuck in the forgotten backpack – about donating kites to the classroom for some event by some date. Damn.

I drove away in my minivan {at least I got that part right}, imagining them all gleefully shadowing their preschoolers next week during See How We’ve Grown Day, which I can’t attend because it’s Business Trip Day for me. My mind started racing as I pulled out of the parking lot. What if I can’t find someone to take my place? What if Tru feels abandoned? What if the cute and friendly mommies think I’m a mean and shitty mommy?

I know this path to crazytown like the back of my hand. I’ve traveled it countless times since first becoming a mom nine years ago. And, by now, I know I’m not alone – other moms fall into these rabbit holes, too. Nevertheless, it feels agonizingly lonely. So, my back pockets are filled with gentle reminders from wise ones to get me through these valleys.

Byron Katie reminds me that what other people think of me is none of my business. Yes! Thank you.

Anne Lamott tells me this is one thing they forget to mention in most child-rearing books, that at times you will just lose your mind. Yes! Thank you.

And Erma Bombeck says before you try to keep up with the Joneses, be sure they’re not trying to keep up with you. Yes! Thank you.

That wisdom helps me shift gears, helps me clear the crap off my personal windshield and see myself clearly again – as a mama who’s doing the best she can. For me, the solution to this angst is not to throw a mommy tea party with the wedding china we’ve never used – nor is it to give up and go fly a kite. The best response to this inner mama mayhem is to force myself to look at what’s going right; to have my own See How We’ve Grown Day. I forget sometimes {okay, most of the time} to reflect on how my kids are thriving, to recognize ways I’m thriving, to confide in the friends I already trust and adore, and to pat myself on the back for the ways I am present for these boys of mine.

Got other tricks and wisdom in your back pockets? Do tell!