Well, it’s happened. I’ve become THAT mom.
Before we had Becca I had an idea of what it would be like to be a mom. I’ve babysat since I was eleven. I’ve taught various ages. I’ve got lots of friends with kids. Heck, I even worked one thoroughly insane month in a day care center! So I had my ideas of what it would be like. And I knew what I did NOT want to do with my kids.
And yet, somehow, here we are, and I’m being open and honest and telling you, I am THAT mom.
My daughter carries her precious stuffed monkey with her all over the place. I was NEVER going to allow my kids to carry a stuffed animal or blankey around all over the place. That’s just absurd. BUT – It’s easier to have her carry it and be happy than it is to deal with meltdowns that his mere presence prevents. Yes, he’s getting a little dirty. Yes, despite my best efforts, he smells a bit like that night when the diaper didn’t do it’s job and pee got everywhere. But he’s George. And he makes all things better. Yup. I’m that mom that has the kid dragging a ratty toy everywhere.
My daughter eats a snack during story time at the library – a place with clearly posted “no food or drink” signs. I swore I would always uphold rules in public places to set a good example for my kids. She’s ONE. Would you rather her to happily, quietly eat her snack that I will make sure is thoroughly cleaned, or would you rather her ruin story time (and the entire “quiet- this is the library” experience) for everyone including me because she decides to scream her head off and make a scene in the thirty seconds it takes for me to gather all of our crap and get the heck out of Dodge? Yeah, my thought too. A quiet snack that breaks the rules is WAY better than a screaming one year old in the library. Yup. I’m that mom giving my kid food despite the clearly posted signs. I see that judgmental look on your face. Get over it.
My daughter gets toys at the store. A wise woman told our MOPS group last year that shopping with a child is all about preparing for the trip before you go in, and having your child prepared as well. So when we go to Target (only Target, mind you – we don’t buy extra crap for her anywhere else), we have a routine set in place already – two items from the dollar section that she gets to pick out (with assistance) and play with while we then we do our shopping – without splurging on anything else in the store. So yes, I give in and let her have something crazy that we really do NOT need (like seriously, why do we need a bar soap holder shaped like a fish – when we don’t use bar soap? Altho, side note, it will make a neat paint stamper)… but our splurge is always limited to two items – within the confines of the dollar section. Yup. I’m that mom buying random shtuff we don’t need.
My daughter eats unpaid food at the grocery store. OMG this was a BIG one I was NEVER going to do. But we do have limits. When we go shopping, we get a muffin, and as we go through the store, she and I eat little bites of the muffin. By the time we get thru the produce and deli departments and into the meat department, we’ve had our fill and I put the rest of the muffin closed back up in its little box in the bottom of the cart. It’s a rare occasion when we actually finish it before we get to the checkout. BUT, we ALWAYS pay for our muffin, and we NEVER eat any of the produce that is weighed until we have paid for it. Yup. I’m that mom openly feeding my kid up and down the aisles.
But then there are also all those things that I was so determined to do that I’ve stuck with.
My daughter ate homemade baby food from day one of food consumption. I have steamed and pureed so many veggies it’s a wonder my glasses ever unfogged. She eats healthy foods now, and I really do limit how often we have crap like Macaroni and Cheese and how often we eat take out. She loves peanut butter and veggies and fruits and meats and cheeses. She has a super diverse palette. Yup. I’m that mom who can honestly stick her nose in the air and say I’m a food health nut for my kid. (Don’t ask me about all the crap I eat that I’ll have to quit eating once she’s old enough to realize that I’m holding out on her… or what I’m going to do when that time comes. I’ll ride that rollercoaster when we get to it.)
My daughter has a schedule, and while we try to stick to it, we are striving to raise a flexible child, so some days we do things to stretch her to her limits, even if it means we deal with a meltdown. And slowly, she has become a person who can handle change and only freak out a little bit instead of a ton. Yup. I’m that mom who says bedtime is by 8 and then goes out to a family dinner and leaves the restaurant after 8.
My daughter loves the water and has been in a variety of water-play activities. She is learning how to swim at barely one year old, and she already knows how to kick her legs to propel herself around the pool. I dunk her under the water regularly so she knows what it’s like to need air and to swallow pool water and come back from that to get a fresh breath. Yup. I’m that mom who pushes my child’s comfort limits and is helping her to become a stronger swimmer – all the while I’m right beside her making sure she’s safe and ready to perform whatever level of CPR if anything goes awry.
SO, while I realize that in some ways I’ve conceded things that I thought were important, I also realize that I never really knew what would work until I had my own child… and I also realize something that sorta excites me because I love a challenge, but also freaks me out a bit – that everything I’ve figured out for this one probably won’t work for the next one! Being a mom is the ultimate learning curve. And the reason is because as soon as you have the answer, your precious little one(s) change(s) the questions. I’ve become that mom. The mom I never thought I’d be, and the mom I always wanted to be – all rolled up into one weird conglomeration. I’ve learned that I’ve just gotta roll with the flow… and look at those people in the stores and restaurants and the public library and know they are judging me, but they don’t know me. And they don’t know her. And if the final outcome of all my crazy parenting actions is a healthy, polite, happy, independent person, then I have been a success as a mother.
-This has been written as a reminder to self for the future… when once again I face a moment like today in the library where the eyes of judgement burn holes through me. BUT I got to bring home the most beautiful little girl there, and she did NOT have a meltdown because she was happy, and she has the most beautiful smile in the world. If all it takes to get that smile are some graham cookies, a cup of water, and her monkey, I’ll give them to her all day long. While I say no when I need to? Will I set limits? YOU BET I WILL. That’s a different blog post. But if I can offer POSITIVE deferments instead of constantly needing to punish, I’ll do it any day. Bring on your judgment.-