This is a re-post from a blog entry I did in 2018 but I think it's relevant to our user base because there are lots of people out there with similar experiences. Enjoy and more importantly, Happy Mother's Day!
There was a very distinct period in life where we popped kids out like a Henry Ford assembly line. Today we have a 9 year old boy, a 7 year old girl, a 6 year old girl, and a 4 year old boy. For those of you who aren’t familiar with what kids in that range would be like, it basically means that our kids are starting to get embarrassed over our mere existence, some still love to cuddle, our bedroom door creaks open in the middle night and little feet paddle in because monsters under the bed is still a “thing”, and skid marks are still discovered in underoos (all ages, not just kids).
One of the most notable moments I’ve ever experienced as a mom was just a few months ago during the Day of Love. Valentine’s Day. Like the thousands of other preschool aged children out there, our four year old son, Wilson, was having a Valentine’s Day class party and big shocker, I was running late. After I peeled into the parking lot and jog-shuffled (that’s jogging in heels) my way through the doors I was hit with both a blast of cool air and a dose of reality. No kids. Anywhere. I look up at the clock—11:33AM. For a party that starts at 11:30AM, surely there should be a crowd, right? The door creaks open and my son’s teacher pops her head out. “Ms. Brooke!” I say with relief. I hold up the ever-so-critical napkins that only the veteran dead beat moms volunteer to bring in first. “Where’s the party?” She throws me this sad puppy dog look that any experienced preschool teacher can perform on a whim. Ms. Brooke clears her throat. “Oh, Mrs. Butters! Oh, oh! Well, the party is already over—Wilson was already picked up by his grandfather a few minutes ago.” So at this point, I’m thinking, how is this possible? I choose to put another potential nail in my coffin of mommyhood. “But,” I say with more and more uncertainty. “I thought the party was at 11:30AM. Right?” More of those sad, puppy dog eyes. “Um, right,” Ms. Brooke says with practiced sympathy. She claps her hands to bring me back to reality. “But you see, school ends at 11:00AM.” Just for confirmation, I drive the last nail in for good measure. “Like, every day school ends at 11AM, or you mean, just today, it ends at 11AM?” By that point, she just gives me a big hug and points me towards the exit.
Whenever a working mom asks me, “What does it take to make it all work?” There are two potential answers here. First, I could tell you, “It’s all about a good support system, giving yourself a break every now and then, and maintaining a good balance.”
While true, this is totally boring AND it completely glosses over reality.
What I really want to tell you is THIS:
“You need to stuff your purse the size of Iowa with an arsenal of electronic devices such as iPads, cellphones and Gameboys. You want eight minutes of peace at the restaurant? Then stock up wisely. Anyone who gasps at you for not promoting verbal conversation at the dinner table is obviously not aware that you are mentally checked out and physically drained. Pass the salt, please.”
“You need to start asking for help and often. Dads and grandparents also have ears and can understand what the Pediatrician is telling them. Do what our parents did and I dunno, not completely walk through your child’s homework with them every night? Split your house in zones and make every able bodied person pick up the crap in that zone or food and water is off the table. Just like grocery runs, laundry, and hair highlights—it’s a recurring, never ending saga. Asking for help is that same pattern. Often and never ending.”
“You need to stop feeling guilty over every little thing. You missed bedtime stories to meet an old friend for dinner. You belly crawled across the gym floor in hopes that your child didn’t notice how late you were to their last school performance. You politely decline for the 5th time the chance to volunteer for your child’s classroom event. The list goes on and on and if you let it, the guilt can continue to stack like a unstable Jenga Tower. Eventually, the tower will fall so why let it build? Kids won’t remember what you missed and what you volunteered for. Instead, they’ll remember what kind of person you were. It’s easy to let those feelings of guilt and utter exasperation overtake us. Don’t let that Jenga Tower build too high.”
“Screwing up Mother’s Day is easy so listen up. Write down all of your demands now and use duct tape to post it on your fridge a few days in advance of Mother’s Day. It should read something like this: I want sleep in. I don’t want breakfast in bed until I’ve freely chosen to wake up and I’ve brushed my teeth. I want all the normal house chores I would do on Sunday completed that day so that I don’t have to catch up the next day. I will snuggle, cuddle and love on my children but this is the day when no one should be allowed to say the word Mommy because I will not respond to that title. P.S. Mimosas are universally accepted as an all-day food item.”
I love my kiddos—I really do. Really. Okay, most days. Let’s face it, though. Mommyhood is hard. Like, not just hard, but “try to get into a Vegas nightclub wearing Tevas and a baseball jersey hard.” And yet, here we are. We are Moms that nearly kill ourselves in an attempt to just make it all work.
I’m no expert in parenting but I do know what it’s like to be a working mom who’s trying to be there for my husband, my job, my extended family, my friends, my community and of course, my kids. That is hard.
So to sum it up, the best advice I think I can ever give is that your life will be full of battles. Some will be lost but many will be won. In the end, Me vs. Mommyhood will become obsolete as we learn to laugh at our mistakes and savor the joys. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, grandmothers and aunts out there. No more keeping score, because ultimately, being a mother means you’ve already won.