No one I know finds parenting particularly easy. I don’t usually have to look very far to find another mom who is facing or has already been through whatever bad and ugly my three-year old is throwing my way at any given time. Even though many of the challenges we moms face seem so similar, our approaches to them are often radically different. What to me may seem like insurmountable obstacles, like getting my kid to leave any place but the doctor or dentist without at least a minor tantrum, to other moms are resolved easily with a single creative idea. The ability to brainstorm solutions, or if I’m really being honest, blatantly steal the brilliant techniques of my fellow mom friends, is one of the things I cherish most about my village. If all else fails, they’re always there to remind me that even the nastiest of growing pains is eventually outgrown.
A close second to that is the willingness of my mom community to give each other plenty of room to vent. I’m a stay-at-home mom to one healthy, prospering boy. I don’t struggle with juggling multiple kids with different sleep schedules and activities. So far, we haven’t discovered any obvious physical or mental issues. Though he certainly has a handful of moments everyday where he’s a total jerk—usually, when it comes to getting ready to go anywhere on time—he’s generally a easy going kiddo. I certainly don’t want to take any of those blessings for granted, and I would be the first to liken my complaints to first world problems at best. Despite all that, my village, without fail, affords me a judgment-free griping platform. I cannot begin to express how tremendously helpful that kind of release has been to me and my ability to care for my son.
However uncomplicated my circumstances may be comparatively, my problems are real to me, and I definitely do my share of agonizing. The constant questions and overall insecurity about whether I’m succeeding at this child rearing gig are sometimes enough to earn me a bed in a mental ward. Is he getting enough sleep? Eating the right foods? Going to the right preschool? Participating in enough/too many structured activities? Exposed to the kinds of experiences he needs to eventually morph into the well adjusted, caring man I picture him becoming?
The endless doubting spills over, occasionally making me feel like I mistakenly traded a bright and engaging professional future for potty training and playgrounds. But then I think, or more often am reminded by those moms I so adore, how far I’ve come. From the woman who swore toys would always be confined to two or three small baskets, to the mom who fully embraces her spoiled preschooler and all the crap that’s managed to accumulate in the “formal living room” (aka playroom) and pretty much every room, for that matter. From the woman who always prioritized her career and social life, to the mom who feels like she spends almost as much time in her kid’s pretend world as she does in the real one.
I also realize I’d have the same insecurities, fears and gripes even with a full time job. The stress of both, combined with the added disadvantage of being so far removed from my relatives when I was a working girl, would have almost certainly led to my being committed. So, hats off and standing ovation to working moms! You have a lot to be proud of.
I abandoned the career I treasured in favor of living close to family and raising my kid in the city I loved growing up. Now I find myself spending a lot of time pondering what I want to be when I grow up. The real trick is also finding a way to live in the present and enjoy the time I’ve been afforded with my little man. I know one day he won’t want to spend so much time with me, but right now I’m proud to call myself his best friend (second perhaps to Dad). Thankfully, whenever things get really bad—like when he’s acting like a super emotional teenage girl or I just can’t silence the questions in my head—it doesn’t take too long before I hear those four magical words, “Mommy, I love you!” Or he makes me some amazing creation in his kitchen. Or he declares it’s dance party time! Or… Those snapshots in time reassure me above all else that, for now at least, I’m exactly where I need to be doing exactly what I need to be doing.
Thanks for listening! And most importantly, thanks to all those moms who make mommy-ing so much easier! I don’t know what I’d do without you.