“Parenting is a piece of cake,” said no mom ever in the history of parenting.
It’s hard work, plain and simple. Hopefully, someone was honest enough to tell you that before you had kids so it wasn’t a complete surprise. Trying to raise a kind, smart, caring human is challenging, it’s SO tiring, it’s terrifying, it’s emotional, and it is a total blast. Once you pat yourself on the back because you’ve finally mastered a particular stage of their development, you wake up to a new one and have to start all over again.
One of a mom’s most important tools for survival is to recognize that there are millions of other mamas out there who are going through the same thing, have gone through the same thing, or are about to go through the same thing.
Realizing that you’re not alone and that there are others who can relate to the same mom truths can make those daunting days seem a little easier.
You know you’re a mom when…
You wish everything had a drive-thru option.
I was out running errands with my daughter, Reagan, last week, and after two overtired meltdowns in Old Navy (hello terrible twos) I was having trouble mustering the energy – mental and physical – to actually go in anywhere to grab some lunch as I had planned. Wouldn’t you know it, Reagan fell asleep about three minutes after we left the store anyway, which left me two options: listen to my stomach growling until I got home, or run through a drive-thru. If you’re familiar at all with the area, you know that means my options are pretty much McDonald’s or Burger King… and they are both located on Shelburne Road. When we visit my husband’s family in Syracuse, there are drive-thru options everywhere you look. Bruegger’s, Starbucks, and Panera all have this mom-friendly convenience. (Come on Vermont, help a mama out!)
You use baby wipes for everything, not just butts.
Your child’s hands and face, your own hands, the high chair tray, the table, your car dash, your cupholder after you spill your drink… My two nephews are ten and seven and my sister- in- law still always has several packages of baby wipes on hand.
At any given time, you have one or more of the following in your purse:
A pacifier, crayons, a sippy cup, goldfish crackers, the aforementioned baby wipes, a spare diaper, some mystery crumbs, a pair of mittens… I have even found a lone sock in my bag.
You have chosen outfits based on how easily accessible your boobs will be.
I breastfed my daughter for 13 months, so for those 13 months, I often had to consider how easily I would be able to whip those suckers out when she had a hankering for some mama milk or when I needed to pump. Which for me, meant a lot fewer dresses unless I could unbutton or unfasten the front in some way. The summer after Reagan was born, I was in two of my best friends’ weddings. Shockingly, most bridesmaids dresses are not designed with breast pumps in mind. (Crazy, I know.) So, at both weddings, I could periodically be found in the bridal suite stripped from the waist up listening to the telltale chug-chug-chug noise of my pump.
You finally understand why Mama Bear was eating cold porridge.
It seems like even if I make us both the same meal for lunch, and sit down with her at the same time to eat, I end up having to get up several times to accommodate her needs, and always sit down to a cold plate of food. When she was an infant, I swear she had a sixth sense about when I was sitting down with something to eat and would choose that moment to wake up hungry or with a blowout diaper for me to attend to.
You’re dying for some alone time and then miss your kids as soon as you get it.
Never fails, every time my husband and I have a date night out, we end up talking about Reagan for most of the night. If I run some errands solo (which is completely dreamy, as you well know) I end up picking something up and thinking, “Wouldn’t she love this” or I see a mom with their kiddo and get the urge to hug mine.
You have hidden what you’re eating because frankly, you don’t want to share.
You know you’ve done it. You ate the last cookie in the kitchen before you came out to the living room. You stuck a piece of candy in your mouth whole so they wouldn’t see what you had. Now that my daughter’s car seat is forward facing, it’s becoming harder and harder to indulge in sweets in the front seat without her noticing.
You rarely shop for yourself.
I worked in retail for ten years before I had my daughter, so let me tell you, I was basically a professional shopper. I came home with something new to add to my closet at least once or twice a week. Now, I walk into a store and try on 387 things, and find nothing I like. I breeze through the kids’ section for five minutes and I have two armloads of stuff to buy.
You congratulate yourself on actually switching the laundry to the dryer as soon as it’s ready.
Or you turn the dryer back on because you don’t feel like folding the clothes yet… you know, to “fluff them,” right? (Some days I wonder if there are a few extra people living here that I don’t know about, judging by the sheer amount of laundry that always needs to be done.)
You know all the words to the Goldie and Bear theme song.
Or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, or Daniel Tiger… and not only do you know these songs by heart, you find yourself singing them while not in the company of the tiny humans who actually enjoy watching them. (“Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog…” haunts my dreams…)
You always have an audience when you poop.
You know how nice it feels when you can go into the bathroom, sit down, and do your business while enjoying a couple of minutes of privacy? Yeah, I don’t either. These days a trip to the toilet includes a toddler talking to me, handing me bath toys, or trying to sit on my lap. Yes, I have pooped with a child sitting on my lap, and I’m willing to bet about 75% of you mamas with toddlers have too.
And finally, you know you’re a mom when you find yourself more anxious, more filled with joy, more exhausted, and happier than you ever thought possible. Motherhood is by far the hardest job I have ever loved. What “mom truths” have you discovered since you had a baby?