One of Those Mothers

As my Dad was leaving this weekend he leaned in, kissed my head and whispered, “You have no idea how proud I am of the person you are,” while tears entered his eyes. Actually, I thought, I do know. But let me rewind a bit.

My middle daughter turned 4 and just because you asked that’s almost a full hand’s worth of fingers. The guilt I’ve felt sandwiching her between her two sisters weighs heavily on my mommy-soul. There is just something about this girl, a je ne sais quoi, which sounds foreign because that’s exactly how it feels and I believe is has something to do with her middleness. Some things about her have yet to be revealed, like the petals of a flower that stay hidden even in the sun.

One thing that has always remained constant is her love of animals. I decided to throw her one heck of a 4th birthday in order to absolve my guilt in the form of live lovable animals as the sacrificial lambs (although none of them were actual lambs). The planning, coordinating, and effort to pull off a kid’s birthday party is not for the faint of heart. It seems like just yesterday I was swaddling her as a baby and suddenly it’s the morning of her turning 4 and I’m Googling does homeowners insurance cover Guinea Pig bites? As Kathy was setting up the animal enclosures 10 minutes before 40 people descended upon my house, I thought how can I be one of those mothers without feeling like one of those mothers?

Like so many things in motherhood we tend to assign negative terms and then lump ourselves or others into meaningless categories: the helicopter parent, the cool mom, or the cryptically vague, but universally understood, “one of those moms”. It’s a combination of unattainable supermom mixed with is she on the verge of a nervous breakdown? with just a sprinkling of Pinterest and sugary sweet Insta-stories.

I’d like to reclaim all these judgmental terms because there is a method to all of our madness. At the root of the root is the love we have for our kids. I wanted to do something special for Madeleine because she deserved a fuss--she has a good heart and I want her to know that I see her. I am proud of the little human she is becoming.

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So when my Dad made the statement above, the thing is, I do actually know because he helped shape me, as I am helping shape her. So if by one of those mothers you mean one who cares deeply and loves consciously, then yes, I suppose I am.

Lessons Learned

Mommy school has been in session for over 11 months now and here's what I've learned so far...

1). My love has no limit but my patience does

Charlotte will shriek eight to ten times in a half hour period, at an octave that could shatter glass. It is not cute or fun, but she has one dimple and I love her.

2). Opinions are like poopers, everyone has one

Please tell me all about your secret recipe to increase my milk supply. It sounds delicious!

3). There is no such thing as the perfect anything

Mother, baby, 1st birthday party. Leave wiggle room for error and throw a dance party for the small victories.

4). I am madly in love with my family

I don’t believe in "better halves" or in couples becoming “complete” when they get married or have a family. These clichés should be left to bad country songs where they belong. I love that there is now a person in this world who is half me and half my husband and that's a fraction I am comfortable with. 

5). Children put everything in perspective

Whether it is a petty fight about the organization of the silverware drawer or thinking about losing my grandpa this year, when I blow on Charlotte’s tummy and she laughs, I know I’ve struck some sort of gold nirvana and I allow myself to just feel happy.

6). Pain is a relative term

I no longer believe in the concept of “I can’t”. Motherhood has made me feel superhuman and I am therefore limitless.

7). There shouldn’t be a timeline for happiness

This year I turned 30 and I have heard too many times, “…when the baby comes” "...by the time I’m.....” “...when I have my ducks in a row”. How about now?  Now, feels pretty damn good people.

 

When Charlotte makes this face she's about to put something inedible in her mouth (in this case a leaf).

When Charlotte makes this face she's about to put something inedible in her mouth (in this case a leaf).

8). I need to give myself a break

Today I yelled at my daughter for shrieking too much, which makes about as much sense as spanking a child for hitting. This of course made her cry and now I feel like what I just wiped off her bottom. Kindly refer to #3.

9). Sometimes life isn’t fair

 The fact that Parenthood is in its final season makes me cry like I’m watching an episode of Parenthood. There have been 28 seasons of The Bachelor, but Parenthood only gets 6?

10). If my daughter thinks I’m funny, that’s all I need

Yesterday my daughter poked me in the boob and giggled for a minute. I will always come in a close second to our dogs but I've made my peace with that.

11). Becoming a mother has changed me

I’ve found that even in the darkest crevasses of motherhood, I’ve learned something new about myself. I am less anxious but more scared; softer and yet stronger. I'm kinder because my sarcasm is now more passive than aggressive and (fingers crossed) more influential. 

I realize my mommy education has only just begun and whether it inspires me toward wit, wisdom or wretchedness, stay tuned for more milestones and meltdowns.

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Never Say Never

Here are some things I said I would never do as a mom. Save yourself some apologizes and never say never, my friend. I’ve even blogged about these very things. But I’m only human and I’ve learned that moms are allowed to be fallible since every day is a trial by fire.

1). JUDGE OTHER MOMS

I am guilty of this from just this morning! I was jogging with Charlotte and a mom in a minivan (speaking of judgment) pulled up to her house with two child’s cups and a happy meal bag from McDonald’s at 8:00am. I tripped and caught myself; Mommy Karma can be a real b. 

2). USE MY JOGGING STROLLER FOR JOGGING

I said that running was my “me time” and the stroller should be used for walks only. Enter 2015 and it turns out the only thing more Zen than running without my baby is feeling like super mom while running with her.

3). TELL MY BIRTH STORY TO PREGNANT MOMS

I can’t even remember if they asked to hear it. I think it is the most beautiful story in the world because it is how Charlotte came to be. But when I joke about the excessive nudity and the number of strangers checking out your lady parts, oddly enough, they find it more terrifying than funny.

4). BE BORED AT OTHER WOMEN’S BABY SHOWERS

I refuse to wear hats or ohh and ahhh in an octave meant for dog discipline, but I will eat cake. It is simply impossible for me not to have a running dialogue in my head that checks off all the presents which are completely impractical for newborns. My favorite is when they are purchased off their registry. That segue ways nicely into #5. 

5). DO THE CONDESCENDING SMUG-MOM LOOK

While, “Just you wait and see” is not my new catch phrase, it is quickly becoming a part of my vocabulary. When a pregnant mom says to me, “Why do you need so much stuff?” it just comes flying out of my mouth like verbal diarrhea. I don’t want to say I told you so in 2 months, but a dark part of me really does.

I no longer have any room in my life to say never. Parenting is a moving target.  If you are lucky, one day you catch up, only to realize the target walks, talks and now wants to chase you. 

I never thought a car seat could cost more than I paid for a month's rent in college.  

I never thought a car seat could cost more than I paid for a month's rent in college.  

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