As far as I can remember, I always wanted children. When I was little, I was quickly obsessed with The Babysitters Club and couldn’t wait to find clients of my own. When I was 12, I got my first babysitting gig watching a six-year-old and a two-year-old.
Looking back, how the hell did that parent trust me to watch her kids? I will never know. But hey, I was all about working five extremely stressful hours for $20. After all, that would supply my ice cream-truck habit for several weeks!
When I got to high school, I took child development classes and volunteered at my high school’s on-site nursery. It was definitely odd to care for six-month-old during my fifth period class, but my passion and love for children started young.
At the age of 25, I married and quickly began to obsess about having a baby. Right before I turned 31, I had my first child. The love I felt was indescribable. It was instantaneous and overwhelming. But postpartum was not kind to me, riddling me with absurd amounts of anxiety and a reel in mind of every possible thing that could ever go wrong to harm the baby.
Breastfeeding came naturally to the ravenous sucking baby—but for me? I counted down in fear, every three hours. It took a solid six months before I didn’t wince when she initially latched.
Fast forward a few years, now a mom to two children and my level of care is somewhat non-existent. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want my son to eat dog food, but I can only stop him so many times before I blindly turn an eye, just because it gives me five minutes of uninterrupted time. Oh and my nipples? Yea, I could nurse a tiger. They no longer have ANY feeling!
Being a mother was everything I expected, nothing what I expected—and so much more. As a child development specialist, I spent years counseling and advising parents on best practices for their children, but when it came to myself, somehow, I felt wildly unequipped at times.
When you’re in my field, the amount of pressure to get it right, every time, is high. Eyes are on me always. Listening to every response. Or, so it feels. Most days I feel like I’ve got this. But sometimes I don’t. Some days, I want to lock myself in my room or walk out the front door and drive very far away. Alone!
You know the days, the days when your children are non-stop fighting and every time you turn around there is something new. Like, watching your son dump a Costco size tortilla chip bag upside down. Or when your daughter decides she must have the very book your son is standing on, rips it out from under his feet, causing him to smack his head on the corner of the table.
Or like when your son has a diaper rash and you decide to leave the diaper off for 15 minutes or so, you know, to let things air out…then you notice a weird brown smear stain on your white cabinet that you don’t remember seeing before, to then spot a giant poop trail for the next three feet.
Or when you finally sit down to eat dinner, the kids quickly climb up on the dinner table, knock over a glass of water and the other kid slips and falls.
Sound familiar? These days happen. To everyone. They are hard and they make us loss our sh*t in that moment. Only for us to spend the next several hours beating ourselves up over how we reacted and how we vow to never blow up again.
The truth of the matter is, we will blow up again. We are only human.
But I will take the worst parenting day over never having had experienced the joy of my toddler walking up, unprompted, while cooking dinner and gives my leg the biggest bear hug. Or hear my four-year-old tell me, “I love you so much, it hurts.” Or watching how much fun they have when I decide to let loose and play freeze dance in the living room, while jumping on and off the couch with them.
These are the moments that recharge my mom tank. I live for them and my kids live for them. So, this is a reminder to all the moms who are having a sh*t day, I feel you! I have them, too. We all do.
But you are doing a damn good job, so go jump on the couch and make your kids laugh, because their laughter will fuel you.