I’ve been reflecting lately on the mom I thought I would be – and the mom that I actually am.
I thought I would be a mom who always put my marriage first. Who would have no problem maintaining regular date nights and romantic getaways. As it turns out, there are times when I’m a far better mother than I am a wife. Also, those romantic getaways leave me stressed, anxious, and missing my babies.
I thought I would be a mom who maintained her own identity and hobbies. I’d continue to chat it up at dinner parties about the latest hit novel or world events. As it turns out, hobbies have fallen by the wayside, I haven’t touched a non-picture book in years, and NPR has been overtaken by Barney’s latest hits.
I thought I would be a mom with tons of patience and impenetrable strength. Toddlers break me?? Psssh. As it turns out, they can, in fact, break me – especially come 2am. I’ve lost my composure, raised my voice, and asked for forgiveness more often than I ever foresaw.
I thought I would be a fun, cool, playful mom. The house all the kids would want to visit for playdates. And definitely not the fat mom. As it turns out, the weight didn’t magically fall off when the kids arrived (quite the opposite), and I’ve put the lockdown on screen time with a full ban on violent video games. Decidedly uncool…just ask my 7-year-old.
I thought I would be a social-activist momma. Gender neutral clothing. All locally-grown food. No plastic toys from far away lands. As it turns out, Cheez-Its make their way into the house along with the crop share, I have no idea where the obscene number of toys overtaking the playroom were manufactured, and my little girls just look so stinking cute in frilly dresses.
I thought I’d be calm and collected in emergencies. Playground injury? Baby is crying non stop? Fever of 104? No worries! I’ve got this. Um, no I don’t. I think I have a legitimately diagnosable case of PTSD from our first ER trip and it physically pains me to hear my babies cry.
As it turns out, I am not the mom I thought I would be in a vast number of ways. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing. My deep, instinctual, attachment to my babies allowed them to thrive during a time when they had so much working against them. I haven’t been so great at carving out time for myself, but my children’s love of literary, thanks to our hours of book reading, fills my heart more than any hobby could. And, yes, I talk about them at social gatherings because they are my greatest pride, and my greatest joy. In fact, as an introvert I used to arm myself with social events knowledge just to get myself through such engagements…its much easier and more natural now that I can find another mom in the room and talk kids all night.
The lack of screen time in our house is replaced with tons of craft projects and imaginative play. Our last playdate involved me painting pirate faces on all the kids (and, okay, myself too) and creating a blanket fort; the video games were quickly forgotten. I still wish I could carve out more time to take up social issues, or shop strictly local, but I’ve come to know that I’m not superwoman nor do I need to be. I’m striving to be gentle with myself when reality doesn’t quite stack up to the image in my mind – and that acceptance of imperfection benefits my parenting more than I ever could have known.