Being A Mom Is Having Stuff Stuck In Your Hair

Being a mom is the entering of uncharted territory.

Being a mom is packing a hospital bag as one version of yourself and coming home as another, tethered to a new life, now forever in your charge.

Being a mom is signing agreements and waitlists, then crossing fingers, miles, and barriers to make a family with a child where there wasn’t one before.

Being a mom is injecting hormones, counting calendars, and pouring hope and science into a bottle and throwing it out to sea, waiting for a gift from the universe.

Being a mom is learning on the job how to swaddle, bathe, soothe, bandage, feed, and care for an ever-changing being in constant need of something, from the very small to the very large. Every. Single. Minute.

Being a mom is lonely.

Being a mom is wiping. Wiping snotty noses, dirty bottoms, muddy hands, and slates clean — over and over again.

Being a mom is packing. Packing lunches, and backpacks, and sleeping bags for camp. Childhood rooms into boxes, boxes into car trunks, cards into envelopes, and books from dorm rooms to apartments, offices, and new homes.

Being a mom is holding. Holding hands, bike seats, and the “Oh sh*t!” handles of 16-year-old’s cars. Holding arms down aisles of weddings, and grand-babies in laps, and more often than you’d like, your tongue.

Being a mom is never knowing if you’re doing it right.

Being a mom is more. More love, more hugs, more laughter, more silly, more fulfillment, more pride, and more contented-quiet-moments-of-awe-and-gratitude than you expected, hoped, prepared, or bargained for.

Being a mom is less. Less time, less sleep, less exercise, less romance, less friends, less books (that aren’t filled with pictures and made of cardboard), less room in the bed, less time in the day, less interests, less hobbies. Less of you — the person you were before becoming a mother.

Being a mom is full. Full of play dough, easel paint, science projects, gymnastics, playgroups, school drop-offs and pickups, music lessons, soccer matches, cooking, dishes, laundry, and the mess that is life with children.

Being a mom is carrying. Carrying groceries, art projects, unfinished juice boxes, half-chewed gum, sleepy bodies from car seats to cribs, and worry, and angst, and dreams, and wonder.

Being a mom is carrying too much at once.

Being a mom is “Look Mommy!” and “Watch this!” and “Come here!” – all the time.

Being a mom is fueled by caffeine, lists, calendar reminders, “I did its!”, “Thank you Mommys!” and “I love yous!”

Being a mom is trade-offs, and sacrifice, and compromise, and career diversions, and life detours.

Being a mom is considering another person’s well-being and interests before your own with every decision you make.

Being a mom is being less to others so you can be more to the ones who need you most.

Being a mom is canceled plans.

Being a mom is handmade cards, and clay hearts, and macaroni necklaces, and stick figure drawings of you hand-in-hand together. It’s nose-to-nose kisses, and round, soft faces looking into your eyes and saying they love you more than ice cream and candy ― and meaning it.

Being a mom is having someone see you as a better person than you actually are.

Being a mom is being someone’s person.

Being a mom is lying. Yes, that squeaky rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle” on the recorder is beautiful! Not much longer. We’re almost there! It doesn’t taste that bad. Plaid and stripes are a fantastic combo! Your blue hair really shows off your eyes.

Being a mom is telling the truth. I don’t know. It’s broken. It’s going to hurt for awhile. Time heals (but not everything can be fixed). Life isn’t fair.

Being a mom is saying “no” when it’s hard and “yes” when it’s harder.

Being a mom is lemonade stands, sand castles, and snowmen.

Being a mom is fevers, thermometers, and sleepless nights.

Being a mom is always taking the smaller half of the cookie.

Being a mom is slobber running down your cheek from open mouth kisses, paint on your shirt from spontaneous mid-craft hugs, and half-eaten food in your pockets and purse at all times.

Being a mom is yelling when your child breaks a vase, squirts you with the hose, or spits gooey, pink medicine out all over the couch and carpet because (even though he’s sick) You. Have. Had. It. And sometimes you are your worst self.

Being a mom is having stuff stuck in your hair, like jelly, or vomit, or the plastic, handheld fan your 4-year-old tried to “cool you off with” that wound itself into your tresses and made a nest, which you will likely have to cut out later.

Being a mom is looking into the worried eyes of the kid who tangled up your hair (maybe not by accident) and laughing hysterically; choosing forgiveness over shame because sometimes you are your best self.

Being a mom is constant, and steady, and sure. It’s no-matter-what and for-always.

Being a mom is forgiveness, and apologies, and absolution – every single day.

Being a mom is a noun, a verb, and an adjective at any given time, and all at once.

Being a mom is discouraging, and heart-wrenchingly draining, and rewarding, and soul-satisfyingly wonderful.

Being a mom is a craft to be honed, a work in progress, a circuitous route to an unknown destiny.

Being a mom is a leap of faith.

Being a mom stretches you to the ends of all that is reasonable, and is a full-time, round-the-clock, never-stopping endurance test.

Being a mom is something that once you’ve known it, you wouldn’t trade for anything in the world – even though sometimes, it would be nice to take a vacation.

This post was featured on Scary Mommy and HuffPost

Hey Moms, We’re All On The Same Team

I was sitting on the grass the other day with some other moms while our older kids played baseball and our younger ones banded together in various modes of chasing, snacking, and mischief-making. We engaged in half-hearted conversation while each of us, in our own way, was preoccupied with our kids.

I kept one eye on my accident-prone 4-year-old, who was bound and determined to spill juice all over the nice, clean, pinstriped picnic blanket we had squeezed onto to steal some shade.

One mom was worried about her daughter playing at the nearby playground, away from her watchful eye. Another was calling over to her son every few minutes, reminding him not to roll around in the grass (which he was) because he’s allergic. And yet another was eying her older son at first base, who was distractedly worrying about sunscreen and water, instead of guarding the plate.

None of us were content to take our eyes and minds off our kids, and see how they fared without us.

We all do it. Look at our kids and see the potential failures and disasters, while hoping for the best. We want some control over their outcome because we see them as a reflection of us. Willing all the best parts of ourselves on them, we hope they’ll embody the fictitious one-day-children we imagined we’d have – before we were actually parents.

As they age, we realize our kids are both falling short of, and exceeding our expectations at any given moment; making them trickier to raise than the pretend versions we dreamed up.

We’re left wondering what to do with these make-believe children we’ve created. The ones with even-keeled emotions, laser-focused attention, and charismatic charm, who thought we were nothing short of amazing and longed to do everything we loved, right by our side, till forever and eternity. (Or at least until we aged into blissfully fulfilled, older versions of ourselves, dripping with grandchildren and satisfaction for a job well done.)

And what about the parent we thought we’d be ― before we lived knee-deep in the trenches of child rearing, trying not to step on landmines, and holding our breath?

What if we let them both go? The fantasy versions of our kids and ourselves. What if we kicked ‘em both to the curb with a “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!” and accepted all of us for who we really are?

Raising children is like playing Craps. (Sometimes it’s like actual crap, and there’s a lot of literal crap involved.) But for metaphor’s sake, we’re tossing out a handful of genes, nurture, and luck into the world and hoping for a parenting “win.”

I, for one, am never quite sure how it’ll shake out. Like when my oldest comes undone over a missed free throw, putting his lack of resilience on full display for all the world to see. Or when my 4-year-old inevitably does spill his apple juice, and wipe his dirty hands all over another mom’s picnic blanket.

Part of me wants to skulk away and disappear because their behavior is a reflection of my inept parenting, or at least that’s how it feels.

But what if we didn’t feel that way?

What if we forgave each other our kids’ behavior? What if I stop worrying that you’ll take my kid’s lack of resilience to mean I haven’t tried like Hell to give him coping skills? And what if you stop worrying that your kid’s lack of focus makes me think you aren’t working just as hard to instill tenacity?

Let’s stop interpreting our kids’ behavior as our parental downfalls.

How about instead, we embrace the cracks in the system and agree to have each other’s back? We could all breathe a little easier knowing we’ve made an unspoken agreement to assume best intentions when our kids (and ourselves) fall short.

Aside from overtly violent, deliberately rude, or just plain mean behavior, aren’t we all (our kids included) trying to get it right most of the time?

Let’s operate under the assumption that while we don’t want to offend those around us, with tantrums, or sticky hands, or snotty noses, or lack of manners; it’s going to happen.

Despite our best efforts, parenting gets messy.

And when it does, we need to find a universal common ground: We’re all doing our best.

We hold out hope that our kids will pay attention, be mature, make smart choices, and exude grace. We hope the same for ourselves, but we’re hardwired to make mistakes ― because we are complicated, imperfect, emotional beings.

Our kids will break things; they will cause a scene, they will stare at some distraction on the ground instead of covering first base, they will wipe their greasy hands all over your linen pants, or drop the F-bomb in the middle of preschool circle time (OK…maybe that’s just mine). No matter how carefully we watch them, or coach them, or love them, they will fall and scrape their knees; they will spill the juice. Every. Last. Drop.

But what if we embraced the messy?

What if we exhaled and let go of judgment, and fear of being judged? What if leaned on each other, instead of retreating for fear our kids’ breaking points will deem us failures as parents?

Instead, when the child wrapped around our leg is a screaming ball of inconsolable gibberish, or interrupts with 57 Mommys! while we try to talk, or breaks down and cries on the pitching mound, or douses the adorable, once-clean, picnic blanket with apple juice, we say, “It’s OK.” And our eyes match our words, and we mean it. And digging into overflowing pockets and purses for half used napkins, we clean up the mess together.

Because we’re all on the same team. Team Mom. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

This post was featured on Huff Post and Red Tricycle.