I write this in a space of nap-panic. That moment when you lay your precious babe down and you start to list all the things that you need to accomplish. You can usually separate the list into two categories.
Things you should do:
laundry, dishes, sweep/mop floors, plan meals, take down birthday sign that’s been up for a month, put away cooler of soda from birthday party that’s been in the back yard for a month, write thank you notes for lovely gifts from lovely people from birthday party that are now a month late, put laundry away that you didn’t get to last week, put this week’s laundry away, clean bathrooms, make easy-to-grab breakfast foods for the week, lesson plan the lessons you didn’t get a chance to plan for work, etc., etc.
And things you want to do:
take a shower, drink coffee, take a nap, bake some cookies, shop online, write something down so all the thoughts that have been trapped in your head for a month don’t cause it to explode or shut down, etc., etc.
All the while you are in a state of distrust – bracing yourself for a little grunt or cry because there’s a very real possibility that said nap could last as little as 10 minutes or as much as three hours. Panic, layered with distrust, and a smidge of resentment on top that you won’t ever get to the want to do list. And then you hear the little, annoying voice of perspective…remember when you watched that show about how many people around the world live with so much less and no luxuries like coffee and naps and you told yourself you’d never complain again…yeah, stop being such a selfish person. And then the guilt train comes barreling through, leaving you pretty smashed and miserable.
But today I chose to write first. Even if it means I don’t get meals planned and I have to feed Mila another freezer French fry. I really need an inner-pep talk because this week I feel like I totally bombed in the mom department. Maybe even in all the departments. Here are just a few of the things that went wrong…
- I lost too many items to count. From my house key (which led to me having to drive for over an hour to pick up keys from Mike while my daughter was starving and cranky and crying) to my spill-proof travel coffee mug (which led to a Kindergartener spilling my coffee all over an important book…and then I found said mug on the kitchen counter three days later, right next to the sink, in plain sight…which led to me yelling, “What the f*** is wrong with me?” in a heap of desperation, right in front of my child).
- I forgot to bring home the precious, time-consuming, pumped breastmilk from school two days in a row. Then when I remembered to bring home the two forgotten bottles, I left them in my school bag and they spoiled overnight. So I didn’t have a single drop of milk to send with her to daycare. And when I picked her up she was signing for milk in such a panic, you’d think she hadn’t eaten in a week.
- I managed to clock my child in the head twice. The first time, she bit my leg and I unconsciously swatted her head like you would a naughty dog. She cried and I cried. And then yesterday, I attempted to put her high chair tray on while she was sitting in it and bonked her with the wooden arm right in the eye. Not even an hour later, I pinched her leg in the belt buckle of her car seat and last night I knocked her over with the dishwasher door. Pretty soon I’m going to have to start explaining the bruises at daycare…
#momoftheyear. Add to it all the things I didn’t get to at work. And the house? Yeah…we have a fruit fly infestation that would make your skin crawl.
Then yesterday, I saw a commercial with Misty Copeland in it. It was for yogurt and it showed her doing all these different activities. She was cooking, she was painting, she was dancing up a storm and it ends with the tagline, “be unstoppably you”. Inspiring? I suppose it intended to be and maybe it was for others. But for me, it just made me feel so inadequate. Why are we as women expected to always have our multitasking shit together? Lean in, be unstoppable! Eat yogurt!
No disrespect to Misty Copeland but one thing I did notice, she wasn’t wrangling any children while trying to cook or holding a crying baby while walking the runway. I can’t run marathons and I can’t perform with the New York City Ballet. Last week, however, I nursed my growth-spurting baby who didn’t want to be set down while standing at the stove cooking oatmeal. Safety hazard? Probably. Supermom moment? Most definitely. But somehow, just because my house was a giant wreck in that same moment, I seem to discredit how bad-ass I was. Why do I only focus on the negative? I realize that I’ve gotten into the bad habit of always keeping track like a hall-monitor ready to pass out demerits any time I mess up.
How many of you reading this, actively “momming” or not, feel like you failed more than you succeeded this week? This negative-focus can’t be healthy, especially if it’s actually more normal to not have your shit together. I’m willing to bet that most people are running at about 60% success each day (don’t quote me on numbers, I’m not an anthropologist yet). We constantly have to let something important slack or fall off the plate in order to do something else that is equally important. Maybe we need to start grading ourselves on a curve.
I think we need to take the phrase “I feel like a bad mom” out of our vocabulary. With the exception of a few people who aren’t actually able to parent their children safely and consistently, you are never a bad mom. And every time you’re tempted to hashtag “momoftheyear”, stop and try to remember that you actually are mom of the year to your baby. They wouldn’t want to be accidently clocked in the head by anyone else. You’ve already won the award by everyone making it to bedtime relatively unscathed (including you if you are one of the lucky moms of a biter).
I know I haven’t said anything other mom-bloggers (Moggers? Bloms?) haven’t already said. But I think it bears repeating – don’t be too hard on yourself! Averagely succeeding is succeeding. Frozen French fries have calories and that counts as food. And it might just distract your kid long enough to put away a dish (or pour a glass of wine).
Here I am three hours later…thank you little girl for the gift of time. I hear her murmuring in the other room. My dishes are still piled high, the fruit flies are feasting, but I’m feeling significantly more at peace. #momoftheyear
© 2016 D. Willson