Until I Was
"So like did you know you'd be a good mom?"
I took a big chug of wine and looked across the table at my husband - then started in on some ramble and stumbled over all my words like usual. My excuse : I was taken back by the question and wanting to answer in some eloquent sequence of sentences that would perfectly sum up my explanation - but really I spoke too fast and that's why I freaking answered :
"Well, actually yeah"
HAHAHAHHAHA what!? NO. insert emoji pain face (What do the high schoolers say now? Shaking my head- yeah I'm SMH)
I'll get back to that after I insert said situation here. Taylor and I were having dinner at a wonderful couple-friend's home across town Saturday night. We love them dearly and after dinner - while drinking wine + beer and over-eating apple pie, AL [okay it's Allan] threw in that hell of a question. "Did you know you'd be a good mom because I feel like I'll be an awesome dad"
I wish I was as good at public speaking (or even speaking) as I am at writing but I'm not and everyone knows it so when I fumbled over my answer he even saidhalf joking "should I wait for a blog post about this?"
And I hope you're laughing now Allan and Christina but you sparked a new thought in me and I'm loving it. So thank you. here's the blog post - and here is my real answer.
"Did you know you'd be a good mom?"
I answered yes because I knew I always WANTED to be a good mom. [duh] who doesn't?
But I thought I would be a better mom than I am.
That is my answer.
I thought I would be better than I am.
I think every woman who dreams of the day they will have their babies in their arms imagines themselves the best they can be. (It's easy to script your fictional character family in your dreamy head when you're well rested and fully fed and life is about you but that's for later)
I believe it's truly an instinctual feeling to trust that you'll just know what the hell you're doing beyond the doubts we all have during pregnancy [ and basically all the rest of our child's life ] But really - we all THINK we will be good moms. We all tell ourselves we KNOW we will be good moms - all the while comforting one another and hiding the secret fear of "what if we fail?"
Before S was born I knew I wanted to breastfeed. And I start with that because it's the one and only thing I was able to stick to [and whether or not you breastfed until 16 months like we did or you bottle fed formula from day one you're a good mom so I'm not here to debate what's a good and bad mom kind of thing]
Of course I wanted to sleep train my kid and have her saying AND signing please and thank you by 9 months and ordering the presidents by 2 and I wanted her to be a sharer and be polite and not a rude hellion - so we all start with thinking that means cloth diapers and co sleeping or not co sleeping or having the bugaboo stroller and the ergo wrap instead of the _____ and only offering organic purées and I already feel a massive mompolitical debate rising against me and I hate controversy so I'm going to stop and leave all the above with :
None of it freaking matters as long as you're TRYING TO BE A GOOD MOM!
And that's what we're all doing. Trying to be the good moms we knew we would be. The good moms we are but forget to see in the middle of the night or the middle of a tantrum.
We all list the things we want to do that will make us good parents and we organize them into tiny little mental sheets and goals and checklists and we arrange and rearrange them up there in our heads about how to teach our babies:
-right from wrong
The list goes on and I was sure that I was already the best of the best when it came to how I would teach her those things until she was here.
Until she was here and I was tired, and she was not. Until she was learning and I was frustrated or she was whiney and I was inpatient or she decided to scream at the grocery store over a bag of shredded cheese or she didn't want to leave the sandbox or when I watched an older kid push her at the park and she didn't react ugly and mean like I wanted to.
I thought I knew I'd be "a good mom" in ALL OF THOSE situations - until I was a mom.
And I know, because I just know- that I am a good mom, we're all good moms. But STILL - it's so much easier to be a good mom alone in our heads before we're doing it than when we're really doing it.
Isn't it? Does that make sense? I get told I'm a good mom by everyone but myself. My mom, my best friend, my husband. And I tell everyone I know, remind all my best friends that they are good moms. But why not myself? Whole other tangent right?
The point is:
I thought I would be better than I am because it's freaking hard.
It's hard to react like the imaginary mom who lived In your head would have acted. She builds you up and makes you think you've got this whole thing.
But then all of a sudden you have this human to raise and she bites you on the swingset and you yell at her in front of your neighbor's watching eyes - and you're mortified and the farthest thing from proud of yourself but you're still a good mom. You're still a good mom even though "imaginary mom" in your head would have been calm and patient and understanding and slow to react and softer and and and and and PERFECT 100% of the time- you know, like all the moms you see on Instagram (HA that was sarcasm)
We are all doing our gosh darn best. And we are all GOOD moms.
So, as slighting embarrassing and naive I sounded the other night (like I would have punched someone like me in the face for answering so nonchalantly "yeah I knew I'd be a great mom") at dinner when I was clearly buzzing from my seldom adult interaction and maybe a little wine -
I think part of that answer was true. I knew I'd always do the best I could.
And that's what I need to remember when motherhood feels hard.
I'm doing the best I can. When bath time feels like a marathon and my freak of nature baby skips a nap and stays awake for 10 sold hours of cruel torture and licks the white velvet curtains with an orange cheeto mouth - I remember I'm doing the best I can.
This mom thing is hard - but it's good. It's more rewarding than it is consuming and it's way - WAY better than the perfect imaginary mom in my head could have ever dreamed in her perfect little life. It's way better.
And you're a great freaking mom.
kind of feeling all the feels from this first birthday shoot of Sawyer's by the amazing Kristin Jean
the rest of them are on my blog here if you want to peek at them and cry with me that in July she will be two