8 Years ago, I celebrated my first mother’s day. I was 22, Jason was in Iraq (OIF I), and I had a two-month-old baby. I felt like I had been thrust into the deep end of the pool and drowning wasn’t exactly an option. I don’t think there’s anything more overwhelming or terrifying than holding a little life and knowing that you are solely responsible for his survival. (sorry for all the boy references… but that’s where I’m coming from). You are the one who shapes him, raises him, and makes sure he doesn’t grow up to be a chauvinist punk. Oh no, motherhood isn’t easy.
And yet, there is nothing more instinctual.
I am not an expert, or anywhere close, but over these last amazing 8 years, I’ve made a few observations on motherhood.
-Kids don’t care what time you went to bed. They’re getting up when the sun does, and so are you.
-Enjoy your brand-new minivan for about a week or so. That’s how long it will take for the kids to grind crackers into the upholstery and track grass and mud in from soccer cleats.
-You will always find the one thing that your parents did wrong raising you and fix it with your own kids.
-You will inevitably screw up something that your parents got right.
-A clean kitchen is not as important as fun and messy kids.
-Mothers think nothing about giving the rear of their baby a sniff before pulling them into their arms. In Public or private, it doesn’t matter. Poop is poop.
-Mothers hold their babies at 1 a.m., cooing to them that everything is going to be alright as the vomit is projected down our backs. We flinch, but we don’t gag, because upsetting that baby is the last thing he needs.
-Toddlers are like small drunk people: They have zero balance, they slur, there’s a good chance what they just ate is coming back up, and they won’t remember tomorrow what they just promised you today.
-Cranky kids can have their mood flipped by a bath and some really fun water toys.
-There are moments, when the kids have done something just atrocious and it’s all I can do not to laugh hysterically. I can never decide if this is because it’s really funny and I’m just uptight, or if I’m just slap happy from sleep deprivation.
-There is no child as beautiful, as talented, as smart, as perfectly precocious as your own.
-Infantalizing your kid’s vocabulary may be cute at one, but it’s not so cute at 5. This is why Chase speaks like he’s ready for Junior High. Or the Oval office. Take your pick.
-Play dates aren’t just for play, they’re small auditions to see if you’re willing to let your kids take on the other kids’ bad habits. Choose wisely.
-Screw with me, I can take it. Mess with my kid and I will end you. Hell hath no fury like a pissed off mommy.
-If you’re ever feeling smart, correct your kids’ homework. You will no longer feel thus.
-I would like my boys to know that I do not appreciate rubber snakes on the kitchen floor at 7 a.m. as much as they do.
-A houseful of boys is a glorious cacophony of squeals, roughhousing, revenge pranks, and loud ‘I Love You’s.’ This is well worth the disproportion of gender in my house.
-Being a mother is the fulfillment of many of my dreams, but not all. I’m more than just a mom.
-When you think your house is already full, there is always room for one more baby at your table and in your heart. They just wheedle themselves in there, planned or surprise. 😉
-No mother is perfect, and if you think you are, then pride is your mistress and downfall.
-At the end of the day, as long as they know that you love them, and you’re holding them close enough to feel your heartbeat, you’re doing just fine.
Like I said. I’m no expert, these are just my observations.
A lot of the time, we as mothers are so darn hard on ourselves. Maybe the dishes aren’t done. Maybe there’s a pile of laundry that could cover your toddler. For crying out loud, let’s stop beating ourselves up and concentrate on what we’re doing right. Are your babies fed? Are they clean? Are they loved? If so, you’re doing just fine. I remind myself of this every day. Every night, when I go to bed, I think of something I could have done differently. Did I have to be so harsh with Aaron? Did I really need to teach Aidan such a lesson? But you know what… Tomorrow is another day. That’s the beautiful thing about motherhood. It’s a work in progress, just like each of us. Each morning we get another chance to doll out more kisses than scoldings, more snuggles than arched eyebrows. And for the Good Lord’s sake, stop comparing ourselves to the 1950’s Stepford mom next door. Just because someone looks like they have it all together doesn’t mean they do. No one is perfect, I promise.
So, after 8 years of this non-stop, no-pay, wonderfully delicious job, I’ve learned that there’s no chance I’ll get everything right. I’m okay with that because at the end of the day, I love my kids and they love me. We’re a disorganized, chaotic, blissfully happy circus of mess, and we’re good with that.
Besides, perfection is boring.