I don’t know how it happened, honestly. But, it totally, one hundred percent, happened.
So let’s just cut to the chase. First, there are fruit snacks in my cupboard, and they aren’t organic, and even if they were organic fruit snacks sounds like an oxymoron to me. And I love those colorfully packaged faux healthy snacks because the kids ask me, “can I have a snack?” and I can say, “yeah, sure, grab a fruit snack!” and they cheer and I emphasize the word FRUIT really loudly so anyone walking by hears that and not the rest. You know, the snack part.
But I think when became a mom, ahem over twenty years ago but we won’t dwell on that topic much, I was the mom who vowed to never ever purchase one ounce of junk food ever and that my vehicle, which I swore wouldn’t ever be a minivan (despite me now super duper loving mine with the automatic doors and DVD player), would never venture through a drive through. And then my daughter grew and I had a another daughter and another and well, you get the story. One day, despite my drive thru ban I turned that vehicle into one and my life changed. So now, we go through drive thrus. So much so that the Starbucks employees recognize my voice and know that my new fave drink is a grande two pump caramel latte.
Just so you know, motherhood happened.
So now, see evidence below, that’s the over forty years old me in the super cool minivan now with my super cool ten year old. I’m sure I had a rule that we don’t stick out tongues either.
Just so you also know, I was never going to lose my cool either. Nope. I was going to be the ultimate Baby Whispering mom until real motherhood hit and whispering was driving me crazy and making me lose my voice as I tried to maintain the whisper but it transformed into a raspy whisper quality yell. So now I try to not yell, but sometimes I do, like the other night when my twelve year old was out biking and his phone died and it was after dark and I couldn’t find him. So, when I found him by the community pool at the park, I did NOT whisper out of my now so cool black minivan, but rather yelled loudly – so all his friends could hear – YOU ARE GROUNDED.
I made sure it was extra loud. I was super mad, but also super scared and thought that his friends all needed to hear what happens when you don’t come home when your parents expect you to.
But, you know, I never thought I was going to do that.
BUT, I also think I never thought my kids would have free wills.
Yeah, that. The free will variable of motherhood that Pinterest, birth classes, friends with no kids and Hallmark forgets.
Life doesn’t wrap up in a convenient 42 minute show. Nope.
And as a result, I’ve learned that I am the mom I said I never would be. But, I’m way cooler now. You know that? I know exactly what really matters. The fruit snacks? They don’t define me as a mom. Nor does having only all organic foods in my cupboard. Neither DEFINE my goodness as a mom. None of the things that I thought were critical have any ounce of mom value.
Instead it’s about balance, about grace and learning to figure out what works for our families.
Maybe we Facebook all our kids moments. That’s okay. That’s cool.
Maybe we love to decorate everything and have the perfect birthday parties – the ones I can’t muster up. That’s okay. That’s cool.
Maybe we work, maybe we stay at home. That’s okay. That’s cool.
Maybe we have tons of kids, maybe one. That’s okay. That’s cool.
Maybe we breastfed, maybe we formula fed. That’s okay. That’s cool.
Maybe we love fruit snacks, maybe we think they’re evil. That’s okay. That’s cool.
Maybe we vowed “no electronics”, maybe we love electronics. That’s okay. That’s cool.
Maybe we are not the mom we said we would ever be. That’s okay. That’s cool.
Do you know why I LOVE that I am not the mom I said I would be?
It’s because I realized life was too SHORT to stick to an ideal that didn’t work.
I co-slept with my babies. We don’t eat gluten (because my son has Celiac Disease). My kids, at least the little ones, eat hot lunch at school. My minivan, is a minivan, and it’s awesome. I run in the morning. I work. Sometimes I have a glass of wine. I lose my patience too often. I curse at laundry in my head. I tell the kids, “don’t you love me? Why is this so hard?” and then in the next breath tell them, “I will love you always.” I’m a single mom. I once was married. My kitchen has stuff on the counter. My kids have phones. They love Netflix too. My kids know they are not to eat on the couch but today I steam cleaned out stains from Doritos. Yeah, I buy them too.
And you know why?
Live is okay without having all the answers or being perfect or changing your mind.
It just really is. I’ve had way too many friends who have endured the death of a child. I’ve also known too many who have had to say goodbye to their own kids because of health. And not ONE of them was like, “thank God I followed all the rules I had for myself and pushed myself to be perfect.” Nope, nope, nope.
We all want time. Grace. Margin.
And space to laugh.
So with that, I freely tell you I AM SO FAR FROM THE MOM I SAID I WOULD BE.
And I love myself.
And, I love our story.
Yes our story. I love the fruit snacks, the black van, the kids wandering off the bus, the kids who slam doors but I still tell them, “I love you”, and all of it. Because this is life. It is true, nitty gritty life. Not enjoying every moment – because no one likes vomit and sickness and divorce and money problems and “I hate you’s” – but rather understanding that those moments are not a sign that you are not a good mom. Instead, they are signs that you are a GREAT MOM.
Yes a great mom.
Grace, grace, grace. Breathe. Especially you new moms. I will never tell you to make sure you enjoy every moment in life. Instead, I will tell you to love yourself. And when you love yourself, your quirks, your flaws, your mess ups, your evolving story of motherhood, then, well, then, you know what?
You have done well.
And that? That is the mom I am now.
The mom I never said I would be who is so imperfectly perfect.