What does it mean to be a mom? In greeting cards, mothers are portrayed as boo-boo kissers or as exhausted, micromanaging maids, screaming at very messy teenagers. If you move from the “funny” section to the “sentimental,” moms are characterized more as best friends or the “whisper” forever in their child’s ear. All of these things are true.
But as we approach Mother’s Day, I have been thinking about of all the complex emotions that come along with being a mom. They are equally wonderful, scary, frustrating and exasperating. And while Hallmark may celebrate mothers as being the ones who yell at you to “stand up straight” or “use your manners” or “clean your room,” the voices of worry and doubt constantly screaming inside of your mom’s head is the real reason we deserve a day dedicated to us. Or at least a potted plant or a gift certificate for a mani/pedi. Because inside every mother’s head, it’s really crazy, y’all. Like certifiable, loony bin-type of crazy.
And that crazy starts about two seconds after you find out you are pregnant.
Am I ready for this? Will I be a good mother? Do I have everything I need? What kind of car seat should I get? What brand of bottles should I use? What is BPA anyway? Do I really need three different strollers? Is a “diaper genie” really necessary? Wait, do I really need ALL of this? So I was supposed to get on a daycare waiting list two years before I was even married (apparently)? What is my birth plan? What if my doctor is out of town when I go into labor? What name are we going to pick? It can’t be too weird but it can’t be too plain. What if something goes wrong with the delivery? What if I have to have a C-section? What if I can’t breastfeed? What if something is wrong with the baby?
What if? What if? What if?
Nine months of “what ifs?” coupled with every other mother you know telling you exactly what you just HAVE to HAVE or “what you really need” can drive you even more mad.
But the moment that baby arrives, those voices go away. At least for a second.
It is the single most joyous moment of any parent’s life. If they could bottle the feeling you have the first moment you see your child, you wouldn’t be able to keep it on the shelf. People would be guzzling it, shooting it up, snorting it, whatever. It is the best feeling in the world. Nothing will ever compare. And you aren’t sure if you bought the right car seat or even how it works, but you just know you are going to do everything in your power to make sure this baby is protected and loved and given every opportunity possible.
And it takes a little time, but you eventually learn what works for you and what works for your child, and that may not be the same thing that worked for your sister, your best friend or your neighbor down the street and their children. Every child is different and the way everyone parents is different too and that is OK.
And once you realize that and that you are perfectly capable of keeping a child alive and happy, you get your own “mom swagger.” But that’s not to say you won’t still have doubts and second-guess yourself all of the time. The crazy is still there. Those voices in your head never go away. They are always present, some times whispering, some times screaming.
Are my kids getting enough tummy time? Why can’t I get her potty trained? How much screen time is OK? Which school should I send him to? Why won’t my kids eat kale and sushi like her kids will? You have your kids signed up for what this summer? I didn’t even know they offered that! Is she too bossy? Is he too much of a push over? Why isn’t my child reading as well … or as athletic… or as confident or as (fill in one of a million blanks) as her child?
Is this my fault? This must be my fault. What could I have done differently? I should have done this. I should have done that. If only I had done that.
If only. If only. If only.
The “if onlys” are second only to the “what ifs” in driving every mother crazy.
And it’s exhausting.
So to all of my fellow crazy moms out there, let’s take this Mother’s Day to turn off the “what ifs” and the “if onlys.” I think we are all doing alright. Hey, at least our kids aren’t serial killers. Yet.
And to all of the kids out there, make sure to tell your mom how thankful you are that she went crazy just for you.
Too bad Hallmark doesn’t make a card for that.