When I was freshly in my early 20s, living the young professional life – you know, hair always fixed, outfit thoroughly thought out the night before, sipping craft cocktails at happy hour while seemingly stressed out about having to wake up early the next day for a morning meeting – I was full of judgment in only the way a young twenty-something can be.
Yes, I am openly admitting that on the Internet, because with age and a little help from motherhood comes wisdom, humility and a dose of reality. I’m completely comfortable admitting that there were multiple “moms” I swore I would never become, because clearly I understood life so clearly at 23.
A decade and two kids later and I am ready to apologize to all the mom’s I swore I would never become, and fully stand in solidarity with all my sisters in motherhood.
I would watch you hover over your children at restaurants and parks and museums, intercepting each move and following them from room to room. I declared that when I had children, they would roam freely and openly explore the world free of my incessant hovering. And then my two-year-old tried to sit on a 17th century antique and touch a priceless painting, and I quickly realized that sometimes being a helicopter has its benefits – for instance, they are the most efficient way to transport critically ill patients, supplies and prevent disaster. Case in point: helicopters save lives … and paintings. I see you, helicopter mom, and I recognize your strengths. The curators at the New Orleans Museum of Art also see and appreciate your strengths. Lesson learned.
Only Organic Mama
Happy Meals for my children? Not a chance. My children were only going to be served grass-fed granola and free-range fruit. No chicken nugget or frosty were ever to pass the lips of my only organically-fed children. Please note the Cheetos, Little Debbie cakes and fruit roll-ups in my pantry. Also, I’m fairly certain that the cashier at Chick Fil A is on a first name basis with my children. Case in point: life gets busy and chicken nuggets is sometimes what’s for dinner. Life is about balance and I cannot argue against the logic that a donut coated in powdered sugar sounds like the breakfast of champions.
No Stretchy Pants Mama
Never Yell at my Children in Public Mama
I would look at the mothers who threatened to take away their children’s birthday parties, toys from Santa and their overall happiness in checkout lines and restaurants and deemed I would manifest the patience of Mother Teresa whenever my children acted up in public. And then my oldest tried to see how far our grocery cart would go if she pushed it as hard as she could in Target and took out a clothing display. Unfortunately for her, I was a little less Mother Teresa and a little more Mommy Dearest when that happened. Children – especially ones as curious and high-spirited as mine – will find a way to push their boundaries (and their parent’s buttons) no matter where they are. Sometimes it takes a drill sergeant and not a saint to set those boundaries, regardless if you are in public or not.
The Less Than Perfect Mama
She was my favorite one to judge. The disorganization, the chaos, the hot mess flying by the seat of her pants most days. Her vulnerability to be openly human and imperfect were things I was not going bring into my motherhood journey. And then I realized that her imperfections are what helps mold her motherhood journey, because truly we learn far more about ourselves and what we are capable of when we are challenged rather than coloring inside the lines. Motherhood (and life) are about taking those imperfections and using them to humble you and challenge you in a way only motherhood has been able to do for me. I wouldn’t take back my perfectly organized and serene life before children for anything in the world. Because I understand now perfection is in the eye of the beholder. Drawings on the wall, pizza for dinner, going five days without washing my hair – these are not blemishes but the fabric that makes up my perfectly imperfect life.
Looking back, it was nice to think I knew everything as a young twenty-something B.C. (before children) girl. Looking forward, I’m glad to have motherhood as my teacher to keep me in check when my inner Simon Cowell wants to burst through.
To all my mamas – from helicopter to free-range, from designer jeans to leggings on their third straight day of wear – you do your mama thing and hold your head high. You are doing a great job.
It’s amazing what a difference a decade makes.