Happy Friday Eve, awesome readers!
The inspiration for this post came yesterday when a young couple and their tiny bundle of pink joy walked into the coffee shop where I was working from. While in awe of watching these new parents try to do everything right (take off the hat, check the diaper, adjust the stroller, put the hat back on, fix the blanket, see if sleeping baby may be hungry – all within a span of about nine minutes), I was reminded of my days as a young mother and realized, “Geesh I’ve been a mom for a really long time.” (Although not as long as my parents.)
When you leave the hospital with your new baby, you’re given a bunch of forms, some diaper coupons and information on formula choices. The one thing you’re not provided with is a manual on how to be a mother.
The following 11 secrets are what I imagine the middle section of that unwritten book should contain.
1. You will screw up sometimes.
You’ll yell. You’ll let them eat Easter chocolate for breakfast because the alarm didn’t go off and you have a meeting in less than an hour. You’ll even swear – right in front of your kids. And you know what? They STILL won’t grow up to be psychiatric patients. Probably. Kids are resilient and no one is perfect (even mothers) and that’s OK. With that said, even on your worst days when everything seems to be going wrong – AT THE EXACT SAME TIME – you are still perfect to your children.
2. There will be days when you don’t particularly like your offspring.
And that’s okay too – as long as you always love them. No matter how hard you work at instilling good values and thoughtful politeness into your kids, they will grow into their own person and make their own choices – some you may not even agree with.
3. Sometimes your children will hate you.
This could happen during the terrible twos, at the school age or during the teenage years. ESPECIALLY during the teenage years. It could also happen during all of these stages. Don’t worry. Your loving bundle of what-happened will return sometime around their 22nd birthday. Meanwhile you may get a glimpse of them – on the third full moon of every 17th month. This is mostly to remind you to be patient.
4. Taking some time for yourself does not make you a bad mother. Ever.
There’s something oddly strange about becoming a mother that infuses us with an overpowering sense of guilt. (Because apparently our five senses suddenly aren’t enough.) The truth is that doing something for yourself (once in a while and even *gasp* every day) makes you a happier person and better parent. True story.
5. Being a mother does not make you “always right” – you will be wrong sometimes.
And that’s okay too. Mothers are human and life is about continually growing and learning. The best thing to do – always – is to admit when you’re wrong and move on. In doing so you’re also teaching your kids an important lesson in taking responsibility for their mistakes. Bonus!
6. Just when you think you’ve got this mom thing covered, something will happen to make you question your qualifications.
Life can be a nasty bitch and sometimes she’ll serve you a plate of crap . . . just because. You’ll want to pull the covers over your head and hide. Forever. And you can do that for a short time (while everyone else is asleep) but after that you’ll have to get up and confront the obstacle like a trooper (or like a mom). The good news is that life is made up of a continuous stream of ups and downs. The bad news is that life is made up of a continuous stream of ups and downs. Enjoy the good moments and know that the bad is just as temporary as the good. (Possibly life was designed that way to keep us from taking things for granted. Just a theory I have.)
7. Just when you think you’ll never get this mom thing right, your kids will do something kind and you’ll realize that you’re actually getting through to them.
Suddenly the 50 trillion cells that make up your body will all get up and do a happy dance because all is well in the world. Sigh.
8. As mothers we want to give our kids everything and do everything in our power for them. But . . .
It’s true. We never want them to lack and we consider it our jobs to make sure that they’re happy – all the time. But if that were true we’d be raising a society of spoiled, lazy brats who think that the world revolves around them. Sometimes we really do have to be “the bad guy”. You’ve heard the song “Cruel to be Kind”? I think it was written for us moms.
9. The relationship you have with your kids will continually change as they grow towards adulthood.
Not just “evolve” but CHANGE. You’ll be their protector, cheerleader, teacher, friend, support team, nurturer, ally and even nemesis – in the best sense of the word. On any given day, you can be all of these and in an unbalanced order. Just go with it and use your best judgment. We all know that this job did not come with a manual. Your best judgment is your secret weapon and best ally.
10. Letting go is one of the necessary evils of being a mom. We all hate it.
As your kids grow into adults, you’ll have to let them make their own decisions and even grow away from you – sometimes only physically and sometimes mentally as well. As a mother, it’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do. But the truth of the matter is that we do not “own” our kids. We lease them for a while and then prop them up in the world when it’s time, crossing our fingers that all the values and morals that we’ve taught them will be strong enough to hold them up on their own.
11. Your kids will always be your kids.
There aren’t a lot of things in this world that come with a forever price tag but being a mother certainly does. Whether your kids are 15 or 50, being a mother is forever.
Now that you know these 11 dirty little secrets about being a mother, go forth and . . . parent!
In the end, it’s really just all about doing your best – every day.