When I was younger, I always had this vision of what being a mother would be like. I knew it would be hard, juggling that successful career, running around with my kids in parks, cooking homemade meals every night while still remaining to stay in shape through all of this.
Because everybody knows if you are doing that much work, you must be burning a lot of calories.
But being a mother is NOTHING like I thought. Nothing that I bargained for. These were the realizations that hit me very early on.
1. Control. Or lack thereof. As someone who could be relied upon to be on time, stick to commitments, be out of bed early and even manage to throw a workout in before a 7 AM flight, losing this practically gave me angina. I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten my family prepared to go somewhere to be stalled by a “What’s that smell?” from my husband or a “Mommy, I need to go potty!” or an even more reassuring, “Oops, Mommy, I missed the toilet!“
So shit, if you are expecting to be on time for anything, you better be ready and prepared for poop explosions.
In regards to control? Well after a few kids, some of us also have bladder issues when we sneeze or cough.
Not all of us. I just heard about it from a “friend.”
2. It’s more challenging to stay in shape. Now I am not saying it CAN NOT, it SHOULD NOT, or it MIGHT NOT be possible. I am just saying it’s harder. And sure, you can drop your kids off at the daycare at the gym, but if you work, you feel guilty about leaving your kids with someone else again.
So you go to the Fitness Store or Sears or something and buy an elliptical. You set up a TV with cable and DVR all your favorite shows. And every night you set the alarm because in the morning you will go down to the basement and watch Gossip Girl while getting buff.
Yeah. It can be kind of like that.
And then your husband asks you if he can cancel the DVR since you never use it anyway, which only makes you feel worse. Hearing his words makes your ass sag just a little more.
3. Running around in parks and shit. Oh this totally happens. It’s just that vision I had of running around with my hair done and bouncing all healthy like a damn Clairol commercial while running after my kids and taking pictures of them with my SLR camera is far from what is usually happening.
I am usually in my yoga pants. I may or may not have showered. My hair is not bouncy. It is, in fact, pulled back into a tight bun on the top of my head and I am not bouncing around the park with them Clairol, Revlon or even Suave style with them. I would have grabbed my SLR but I forgot it, damn it, but I’ve got my iPhone so I can snap pictures on that.
What’s that? Oh Shaila – you want to go on the swings over there and Nico you want to go 200 yards in the opposite direction to that slide? To that particular slide, because none of these other twelve slides will do? Oh ok, of course that makes sense.
After some negotiation, we are good.
Oh, what’s that? Oh you need to use the potty? Oh – well, we can use the Port-a-Potty right there. What? Oh you think that’s disgusting? Oh ok, let me magically make a shiny new toilet appear with this Harry Potter like wand that all mommies have. They came out of our vaginas the same time we had you. Oh, you peed yourself? Oh, ok. Let’s go home.
And then even though I have watched Food, Inc. and I know terrible things about the food industry, I will stop at McDonald’s.
4. Cooking homemade meals and crap. Some moms are really good with this. Heck, I have a friend from high school named Deb and she is one of the most popular food bloggers in the whole world, the author of a blog you may have heard of called “Smitten Kitchen.”
I read it from time to time. The pictures on it are pretty. I also really like her granite counters. I wonder what kind of granite they are.
See what I mean? Those counters are really pretty.
Before I know it, the time I needed to cook a homemade meal is gone.
So I pick up the phone and call for delivery. The guy at the pizza place asks me if my cold has gone away and if I’ve scheduled that mani/pedi. I ask him if he gave that girl he was talking about a call. The one he told me about the LAST time we spoke.
Anyway, these are just some of the things where my vision has not quite matched my reality. If I were to liken it to a novel, the title is no longer “Great Expectations” but more like, “The Little Engine That Could.” Just trying to get to the top of that hill.
I think I can. I think I can.
There are loads of other things I suck at, but there are only so many hours in a day and a blog post can only be so long. Maybe I will mention them to you another day. (Laundry, anybody?)
I do know one thing for sure. I think one thing that I am good at is loving my kids. I may not be the shiniest, slimmest, most glittery, in control, homemade meal cooking, organic-y kind of mama that I thought I was going to be. But I think my kids will forgive me.
I have given them life.
I remember the moments I held each of them for the first time and the expressions on their faces like it was yesterday.
I know the patterns of their breath when they sleep at night. I notice the cute little tics each has.
How Nico does this cute little shiver when he gets scared.
How Shaila makes “the love face” when she looks down at her brother in those rare moments where she is not occupied with throwing something at him.
The small things, the little nuanced behaviors that remind me of a family member on my side or John’s side.
I have held them close when they have been sick, I have felt the sweet touch of theirs lips against my own.
For what it’s worth. They are kind of stuck with me.
And to me, that’s worth more than anything else.
“Even if I’m setting myself up for failure, I think it’s worth trying to be a mother who delights in who her children are, in their knock-knock jokes and earnest questions. A mother who spends less time obsessing about what will happen, or what has happened, and more time reveling in what is. A mother who doesn’t fret over failings and slights, who realizes her worries and anxieties are just thoughts, the continuous chattering and judgement of a too busy mind. A mother who doesn’t worry so much about being bad or good but just recognizes that she’s both, and neither. A mother who does her best, and for whom that is good enough, even if, in the end, her best turns out to be, simply, not bad.“
― Ayelet Waldman, Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace