Last night at the dinner table I had the following conversation with my three year old:
Me: “Do you have the best mom ever?”
Her, staring at me blankly.
Me: “That’s a stretch, good point. The world’s okay-est mom?”
Me: “Not the worst mom ever?”
Her: “Yes! Not the worst!”
Which, if I’m being honest, probably sums it up pretty well! Let’s get real – our kids go to daycare sometimes without us having run a comb through their hair and they may have eaten Marshmallow Matey’s for breakfast depending on how frazzled we are on any given day. Not to mention the fact that I’ve yet to make it on a field trip and I’d be lying if I said that both of them don’t think that using the microwave is “cooking.” Sure, they “help” with baking and cooking sometimes (of the real variety), but let’s get real – they see me hitting the microwave buttons as much as they see me turning on the burners.
I’ve said the phrase “because I said so” in the last week instead of taking the time to explain whatever it was that I was doing and why I was asking. I’ve completely missed likely weeks’ worth of clues that one or both of my daughters have out-grown various items of clothing until I finally realize that my three year old probably shouldn’t have 18 month pants in her drawer and my 18 month old needs 2T pants, like, yesterday. Also, she’s 20 months old, but I had to read this twice before I realized that I'd gotten her age wrong.
I leave for work trips and miss bedtimes and wake-up times and snuggles and meals. I lie and say that the park is closed sometimes if it’s too hot or we’ve already been to the park twice today and I don’t want to go again. Both kids have thrown up – more than once – in the middle of the night in their beds and then they’ve just gone back to sleep, leaving us to be the parents whose kids assume they should just sleep in dried throw-up than bother calling out to see if we’ll come into the room (answer: almost always no, we will not. Because we’re monsters.)
I sometimes feel resentful towards my friends who work from home or are stay-at-home moms and get an internal comparison hangover at the many blogs and articles that talk about full-time working parent struggles while simultaneously making it sound like they’ve totally got it figured out. I get offended when someone assumes that I either hate my job or my kids, because there’s no way I could love both perfectly and do them both so imperfectly.
My kids eat processed food. They go to bed before any of their peers. They have bumps and bruises and scars, they have Crazy Forest Baby Hair (copyright pending on that description) at any given moment. Half the time they’re both naked, running around and yelling “bootie!” while I frantically try to get underpants or diapers on them and the other half of the time I’m searching through a pile of laundry looking for clean underwear for myself before one of them can run into the room and point and say “bootie!” back at me.
I’m not the worst mom in the world. On my best days, I’m doing pretty well – meaning, our kids are loved, safe, and fed. Even if it’s mac n cheese with that toxic, everyone-has-sent-me-that-Facebook-article-twice-now-no-need-to-send-it-again-thanks, cheese. On my worst days, I sometimes lock myself in the bathroom and cry at how overwhelmed I feel. Which I did two days ago, to be exact. And then a few hours later I was at work and a near-stranger, fellow full-time working mom said to me “Isn’t it hard? Do you ever feel like it’s just so hard?” And I swear to god I almost kissed her right on the mouth. Which is when I had the realization that that, right there, is exactly just what we need. To just look at each other sometimes and be like “this is hard, right?” and for the other person to be like “oh my god, totally.”
Because it’s hard and it’s scary and it’s exhilarating and totally and completely rewarding and none of us has much of a clue about what we’re doing and whether half of it is the right thing or not (right…?) Which I think is part of the reason we’re all trying so hard on social media to show our homemade, spiralized zucchini pasta that we made with our kids after doing arts and crafts for an hour pictures instead of the ones that happen more often. Like when your 20 month old (nailed it) decides to silently protest your 7th request to get the hell into the car and just takes two knees and breathes it out until she has gathered her thoughts enough to take your shit again.
Please post more of those. Because that’s, like, half of my iPhone photos, you guys. And it’ll help with the bathroom-crying, I think, if we just get a little more real with each other. Or at least it’ll help us during the bathroom-crying to know that we’re not the only ones. And that’s a start, no?