Odd Mother Out

March 10, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Giggles, Lollipop | 17 Comments

Before I was a mother, I knew exactly how to be a mother.

I remember, not long before Lollipop was born, watching a woman and her daughter at my favorite taco joint. The little girl was wearing mismatched shorts and a shirt, she had a purple stain on her lip, her hair poofed up like a knotted ball of twine. She fed herself beans.

I remember thinking: That mother needs to get it together. Needs to wipe her kid’s face, put her in clothes from the same color palette, find a comb already. And for goodness’ sake, don’t let the kid feed herself. Such a mess.

I remember thinking: I will not be that mother; that will not be my daughter.

Back to the Future
Last week, I took Lollipop and Giggles out to lunch. To my favorite burrito joint. It was crowded, so Lollipop snagged us a seat. She put her straw purse filled with matchbox cars and magnets on the silver tabletop. She sat down to wait for me in a purple and green princess dress. With many, many sequins. And her yellow headband? She had arranged it just so in her blond bird’s nest.

Giggles and I waited in line. He wore red house shoes. He had a prized pink butterfly clip stolen borrowed from Lollipop in his hair. He raced his fire truck up and down the metal walls.

We sat down with our food. We each fed ourselves. Rice got on the floor. Beans made our hands gooey. We were a mess.

Cue the Laugh Track
And then I remembered her, them. The mother and daughter from those many years ago. And I thought: I am exactly that mother. My sweet children are exactly like hers.

Feel free to have a good laugh. I did.

Don’t get me wrong. I still know exactly how to be a mother. And it’s exactly the opposite of what I once believed. The secret? Do what works. Do what works for you, for your child, for your family.

A Bean of Truth
If that means having a planned C-section or choosing a home birth, do it. If that means opting for formula or seeing five lactation consultants until your baby learns to latch, do it. If that means co-sleeping or toughing it out with some help from Ferber, by all means.

And if that means letting your toddler pick her own clothes to avoid a major meltdown and, in the midst of your wily mental trickery, forgetting to wipe the grape juice off her chin or run a comb through her hair? Well, I salute you for getting out the door. Because some days, even that’s impossible.

The secret? Do what works. Try not to judge. Know that one day, you’ll be right there. Wearing sequins and a bean mustache.



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  1. Exactly! Being a mom is learning to re-prioritize what’s really important. My kids love to dress themselves in very strange combinations but I’d rather they do that and enjoy a trip to the store than make them change and take grumpy kids anywhere!

  2. Loved this post – especially as someone who ventured to McDonald’s last week to sit inside with a 3 year old still in his pj’s and an 18 month old feeding herself ketchup. Just ketchup.

  3. Excellent advice! Do what works and try not judge just about covers it all!

    Before I had kids, I was always thinking, “Man, why don’t all these moms brush their kids’ hair. How hard is it to brush hair?” I now know exactly how hard it is to get my kids dressed and fed and toileted in the morning . . . hairbrushing ends up a low priority.

  4. Ha! I love this. I once heard a quote – wish I could remember where – something along the lines of: “Before I had kids, I had five theories on how to raise them; now I have five kids and no theories.” How true!

  5. Well, this is kind of judgy, but I always assume the moms with kids in mismatched clothes are the good ones; they can identify the things that really don’t matter much. First mantra of mothering: pick your battles.

  6. Oh, how I love this post. This was me today. One step behind my girls at all times. Wrestling them on street corners. Failing to wipe the cookie crumbs from mouth corners. Placating with toys I shouldn’t have bought. Playing the same episode of Wubzy over and over so I could close my eyes for ten minutes.

    So thrilled to have found you via the lovely Kristen over at Motherese. I will be back πŸ™‚

  7. Ahhhh yes, never say never! Once I became a mother, I enjoyed learning how to eat my words!

  8. You make me laugh! We’re all living the same life, aren’t we? All aspiring for it to be otherwise. You notice once you’re a mum that the loudest parenting ‘experts’ are the ones without kids. I just nod and smile when someone tells me ‘well, when I look after my niece/nephew/alien child down the road, I just say no and they respect me for it.’ Clearly they’ve never heard the saying ‘familiarity breeds contempt’.

  9. Yes, yes, and yes. I always said I would never co-sleep, and then at four months Teva was up practically every hour and I caved. It was easier, I was happier and more well-rested, and Teva liked snuggling close and nursing through the night. Sometimes ya just gotta do what ya gotta do to get by.

  10. Isn’t that the truth? We lower our standards incredibly over the years, don’t we? Survival, baby!

  11. Ah yes, I too was wise before I had children. Once they were born, all illusions of me being in control vanished. But letting go of control to focus on the things that are truly important and forgetting the things that aren’t has been a blessing for me. We’re messier, but happier.

    PS – Love this blog! I added you to my blog roll on Demanding Joy.

    • Wow! Thanks, Meg!

  12. So true! Again, I can relate to your words so well. I still catch myself sometime worrying about others’ opinions or expectations. I’d like to say it doesn’t matter…but it’s not always easy for me to let go of.

    Thanks for reminding me what matters!

  13. I think we can all soooooo relate! Before becoming a mother, I remember thinking – what’s wrong with these women? Really – how hard would it be to put on the NICE jeans or a touch of makeup?


    Then I had kids. And I am/was/am those women.

  14. Sing it, sister.

  15. Found your blog through Mep…

    LOVE this post! I have SO been there, on both ends of the spectrum. Now I strive to not judge and just smile at the moms I see, saluting them for getting their children up and out the door. Like you said, some days THAT is a huge accomplishment in and of itself.

  16. I still find that little voice inside my head judging judging judging, (others AND myself), and have to work really hard to silence it, because the longer I am a mother, the more in awe I am of how many ways there are to get it right.

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