5 THINGS I SWORE I’D NEVER DO AS A MOM
We all do it. As much as we try not to, we all judge. And the person you judge most harshly is usually yourself. Sure, we understand that behavior taken out of context is generally a poor judge of character. But when it comes to judging ourselves, we create "never" lists to hold as benchmarks by which to measure our performance. And if God forbid we ever trespass on that list of nevers, there is no failure more shameful than one no one could possibly know about or understand. But here's the thing: those lists are petty and nasty. We'd likely never hold another mom to the same criteria we hold ourselves to.
So in the spirit of truth-telling, here's a list of 5 things I swore I'd never do as a mom that I now totally do:
Skipping showers. Before having kids, I had this vision of myself as this totally put-together mom who - at the very least - never left the house without a coat of mascara and a swipe of gloss. Now I often haul James off to school with my uncombed hair thrown into a bun wearing no makeup and whatever all-black ensemble has the least wrinkles in it. I arrive home intending to walk the dog, work out, shower, and go on with my day. But by the time I've gotten the first two things done, my inbox is full and showering just seems less important than getting my hustle on. So I'll quickly wash my face, sparkle on another coat of deodorant, and get to work until I'm reasonably satisfied and can take a break. Which truthfully often isn't until Scott comes home from work.
Wearing my Lulu’s when I’m not working out. Not only do I sometimes stay in my sweaty workout clothes until after 5pm, but I’m also guilty of rolling pretty much everywhere looking like I’m auditioning to be a fitness model. This still strikes me as really weird, because I’m a total fashionista who pours over the latest edition of Vogue every month as though it was an as yet undiscovered book of the holy bible. But dry cleaning bills tend to rack up quickly when you’re a new mom with leaky boobs and a baby with acid reflux and a talent for turning spit-up into a jet-propelled biological weapon. (No joke: I once went through 7 tops before noon.) Four years later, I’m still lounging in my Lulus because a) I now work from home full-time and b) James enjoys wiping his chocolate/snot/jelly-smeared hands on my sleeves. Le sigh.
I lose my sh!t and yell. (Sometimes.) To be clear: I’m not that mom who broadcasts her child’s every indiscretion to the entire neighborhood. However, there are times when my frustration gets the better of me and I raise my voice in a way that I’m really not proud of. I’m not sharing this because I think yelling is a constructive way to parent, but because I think we moms deserve the occasional pass. And when your child is throws poop-stained underwear at your face while blowing a raspberry in your direction, it’s time to cash in on that get-out-of-jail free card. So I’m working not only on finding ways to be a more patient, conscious parent, but also on not being so tough on myself.
I’ve bribed my child with TV. I know I’ll be judged for sharing this one, particularly after last month’s WHO recommendations on screen time for kids under 5. But on occasional nights when Scott and I are both sick and James is acting so crazy that we swear his head just turned around 360 degrees, I have dangled Paw Patrol in front of him like a carrot on a stick. Because when it’s a choice between losing our sanity and 30 minutes of cartoon puppies, the choice seems pretty clear.
Putting myself last. Here’s the thing: when you put yourself first, you tend to take more showers, wear less Lululemon, are more patient and need to lean on screen time less. My original parenting goals may have been lofty, but they weren’t completely unrealistic. And when I took an inventory of my life, I realized that the things I wasn’t so proud of mostly stemmed from the fact that I wasn’t making myself a priority. Because how can I serve anyone else when I myself don’t feel whole? When I decided to start each day by putting myself first, my entire outlook changed. Sure, I still occasionally lose my patience or discover that it’s 5pm and I smell like a locker room, but those things happen less often. I’m more in control of my time, and my emotions.
Because self care isn’t just manicures and spa days with your friends; it’s the time you make to do the things that make you feel whole. And we moms need to make sure we engage in that kind of self care daily, otherwise everything starts to go sideways. So this Mother’s Day, I invite you to think about what feeds your soul and figure out a way to do it every day - even just for a few minutes. Maybe it’s stepping outside and taking a few deep breaths every morning, or maybe it’s reading a few pages of something meaningful. Whatever it is, DO IT. You deserve it.