It was 19 years ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting in a a wheelchair, riding down in a hospital elevator, my newborn son cradled in my lap. My husband stood behind me hyperventilating. “Don’t you give us a video or an owner’s manual or something?” he asked. Beads of sweat were forming on his forehead. “Are you really going to let us out of here with a baby and no instructions?” The nurse efficiently wheeled us out of the hospital and, after checking the safety of the infant car seat, loaded us into the car. No doubt she’d seen this kind of behavior many times before and wanted to get back to safety before my husband totally freaked out. “Good luck!” she called.
Good luck?! And so began my journey into motherhood. And it is a journey. One without a manual, a video, or a road map. It’s strictly on-the-job-training for this gig.
Throughout these 19 years of Mommydom,I’ve learned a few things. Well, a lot of things. For instance, once a garbanzo bean goes up the nose, it usually requires a medical professional to get it back out. If a child flings a pacifier, it will hit the only person in the room never to have a child of their own. Poop does come in many colors. The three second rule is proportional to a child’s birth order. And, kids will exhaust you physically when they are young, while they exhaust you mentally when they get older. (We’ve had many examples of this in the past few days!)
I’ve also learned that the sound of a child’s laughter is a balm to the soul. A sticky hand is magical if held in yours. There is no sight more precious than a peacefully sleeping child. And, I can never hear “Mommy, I love you” enough times.
But, the most significant thing I’ve learned is that being a mom is 24/7/365. BK (before kids) I believed I could do it all and having kids would be just another one of those things I juggled in my life. Yeah, hard to believe with all those advanced degrees I could be that naive. The fact is, whether you want it to or not, mothering your kids becomes the most important thing in your life. It’s a fact of nature that can’t be altered.
I also used to believe the whole “mother’s intuition” thing was just a bit of hogwash. But when I became a mom, my “spidey sense” became so well-honed my kids live in fear of it. (And my husband secretly envies it!)
The Mommy Wars are heating up again, thanks to the political, talking heads on television. I’ve been on both sides of the battle lines: a working mother of two and an at-home mom of two. Wanna know the truth? Neither scenario is perfect. The fact of the matter is, we are all “full time moms” whether we work outside the home or in it, so what’s the issue? Let’s stop the nonsense. Tell the talking heads to put down their broomsticks and let’s work together for the good of the kids instead of tearing each other down.
My message to all moms this Mother’s Day—and every day—is simple: go easy on yourselves. Whether you’re a working mom or you stay at home, give yourself a break. There is no right or wrong way here. You, or your child, do not have to be perfect. Turn off your inner Tiger Mom and enjoy the moment. You’ll be glad you did! (If you don’t believe we are all Tiger Mom’s, sit yourself down at any competitive event pitting kids against one another and listen!)
My dear friend shared something on Facebook this week that I want to close with. Her post is worthy because she also happens to be a fabulous mom. In fact, she first introduced herself to me as my son’s future mother-in-law. Sadly, her daughter has wised up because my son should be so lucky!
Pay particular attention to number 25.
Excerpt from The Gifts of Imperfection , by Brene Brown:
1. We need to change what we say and what we allow to be said in front of us.
2. There are infinite numbers of do overs for your teen girls.
3. The most powerful teaching moments are the ones where you screw up.
4. Do you light up when your kids are coming in the room or do you become the instant critic?
5. If we own the story then we can write the ending.
6. Every time you watch the Jersey Shore, a book commits suicide.
7. You need at least one friend who will help you move a body. No judgment. There in a second. No explanation.
8. Midlife: when the Universe grabs your shoulders and tells you “I’m not f-ing around, use the gifts you were given.”
9. We have to be women we want our daughters to be.
10. Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.
11. It’s no longer a question of can I do it. It’s a question of: Do I want to do it?
12. There’s nothing more daring than showing up, putting ourselves out there and letting ourselves be seen.
13. In our moments of most intense joy, we realize how vulnerable we are.
14. You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story & hustle for your worthiness.
15. What would you be glad that you did…. EVEN if you failed?
16. We are sick and tired of being sick and tired.. Definition of courage: Tell your story with all your heart.
17. We cannot give our children what we don’t have.
18. You are imperfect & you are wired for struggle; but you are worthy of love & belonging.
19. Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.
20. Talk about your failures without apologizing.
21. It’s not about “what can I accomplish?” but “what do I want to accomplish?” Paradigm shift.
22. Think about what’s pleasurable, not just what’s possible.
23. Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the courage to be imperfect.
24. You can’t dress rehearse the bad moments.
25. Want to be happy? Stop trying to be perfect.
Happy Mother’s Day to all!