No one ever tells you as you are swaddling a new bundle of joy, that the first few years of feeling utterly clueless, just keep going… and going. Well, maybe it is just me.
I had in my mind –pre-baby, mind you– this picture of a hot but tasteful soccer mom who danced with her kids in a sparkly clean kitchen, baked cookies, rocked out a bit when she needed to and was very active in school life. Granted, I have come close to a lot of those things, but never in the same day, week or sometimes month… fine. Year.
The first rude awakening was the hot part. That for some reason, maybe because I was 19 when I had my first baby, seemed like a surreal Nancy Kerrigan moment. “WHY ME???” The stretch marks added up and my metabolism decided it hated me and the cookies I wanted for breakfast. –Honestly, like Chips Ahoy are that much worse than pancakes? In my head, I still feel like the pre baby me, which means I’m holding myself to my 19 year old expectations of life, thinking what the heck happened to my curves? They reversed!
I did bake cookies quite a bit, so that one I have down, but my kitchen wasn’t sparkly. It was all I could do to have any clean dishes by dinner, sometimes.
Cooking was fine. As was baking. I could creatively mom my way in and out of most situations. I totally broke out my fantastic spazzy mom moves and hoisted my kids around, singing into spoons to anything from Broadway to Bell Biv Devoe while we tried, often unsuccessfully, to make that kitchen shine.
The first child into Kindergarten was interesting. She patted me and told me everything was alright while I fought back the tears and hoped I weren’t making my face blotchy.
Now I have two in school and I feel like I’m dating again, only it is other moms and I don’t have that trusty teenage “It’s okay if I’m a total dork, because they think I’m cute” thing. Instead, the witch cackle breaks out, or the “Holy crap a grown up is talking to me” ramble on about things that likely don’t matter to anyone but me. I’ve made a couple of really good friends, and I have a lot of people that smile and wave, but overall, the problem lies in that I’m pretty hard on myself.
Turns out I am not the PTA mom. I love parties, people, and helping out. You’d think I’d be great at it. Yet, between being a care taker, having teeny tiny little siblings that will rip a classroom apart given the opportunity, and a brain that is always on 50 different wavelengths giving me a minuscule attention span, well, it doesn’t pan out. I’m lucky to remember the date. It shouldn’t be such a big deal, right?
This past year, we found out I suffer from depression. Weird. While it isn’t clinical and isn’t constant or manic, it still doesn’t match the stigma for me. I rarely hate life, or feel like I hate my self or anything, really. But this year, I’ve had a hard time finding energy, and my temper is worse. I find that touchy, girly side of me is larger than I want it to be and I take things way to personally. I’ve been unhappy and unaware of it. It took quite a few dramatic trials in a short amount of time to surface the reality of the situation. Apparently, the stuff it down and suck it up, thing is a no-no. It turns into a dark ball of emotions that rears it’s ugly head at the worst moments isn’t quirky, but is that inner, I wish I were better thingy I stuff down, rearing it’s ugly head.
I’m far from alone. So many of us hike into the school, some dressing up like for a date, others defiantly in sweats, or hair wet from the nap time shower we finally get to wash that spit up or snot out of our hair and line up worrying that our kids will fit in while telling ourselves we don’t. Some of us go back home, comparing ourselves to others, but I personally am still stuck in my own ideal from before I met reality, wanting to be that Vision of Mom. Motherhood has this weird aspect to it that leaves us all trying to find the balance of “Mom me” vs. “Actual me’ and where they are the same.
I want the clean house, the perfect temperament and to be the cultured, sophisticated, domestic diva, room mom. As it is, my nature is to share. I talk. About pretty much everything. I am easily excited. It is something that I am proud of and also one that mortifies me. How many times do you have to think “Geez. Did that really just come out of my mouth?” But I’m genuine, if very flawed. My therapist did a great job of helping me to see that I beat myself up more than other people ever would, and it makes sense. Some of the best people I know do that.
I only hope that as I stop kicking my own butt down into the dumps and start kicking it up toward some semblance of confidence and feeling like me again, that I’ll be able to help instill a better self esteem in my kids that doesn’t rely on lack of stretch marks, a perfect kitchen, and time and energy to be a PTA mom. Perhaps, my spazzy mom moves and cookies will sink in and when I realize it is okay not to be everything at once, they will too.