Before I got pregnant, I swore I wasn’t going to be a mom. Kids are expensive and I wanted a penthouse suite with a nice view and a lot of windows, and a big bed all for myself. Then, when I got pregnant, I swore I wasn’t going to be “that” mom, you know the one who camera roll is filled with pictures of her kids literally just lying there on a blanket with a dead faced expression and you’re like “omg thats amazing Brenda, wow, your kid’s personality shines in these,” meanwhile you’re like “I just looked at 100 of the same exact photo on Brenda’s phone. I think her kid is sleeping with its eyes open.” Yeah, safe to say, don’t look at my camera roll. Brenda was me in this hypothetical story.
I also want to preface this blog, and actually all of my blogs. I don’t get on my blog to just bitch and moan about how hard motherhood is. I actually, surprisingly, enjoy it almost every day. But, after talking with friends who asked questions like “did you just connect instantly and feel motherly when Zara came out?” or “Isn’t motherhood the best and greatest joy in life?” my answers were not yes. And I was confused and felt sort of like an imposter just pretending to be this baby’s mom, wiping a butt and cleaning spit up, but not really 100 percent connected to her. So I wanted to write this mom blog to say that yes motherhood is all that and a bag of chips, and I don’t take it for granted, and I love Zara more than anything in the entire world, but some days I wake up and want to call a substitute teacher but for moms. I think hearing real stories about moms, good and bad, is important when we are constantly hearing things along the lines of: “this is the best job in the world! I had no purpose until I pushed this baby out!” and that is valid nonetheless, but I wanted to write this blog to just give people the real, unfiltered, un-everything-I-post-on-facebook-is-the-highlight-of-my-motherhood-journey, whether these stories are boring, exciting, funny, happy, sad, all of the feels.
With all that being said, Zara and I just finished our semester apart this past week. It was really tough being away from her, especially because this is the time where the baby starts to like do actual stuff. When I say do actual stuff, I mean things that are not hard for normal people to do, like clapping or picking up small pieces of food. This “actual stuff” really isn’t that cool unless its your kid. Reuniting was fun though, we got to spend a week, just the two of us, while I finished finals/a 40 page paper. Let’s just say this was ambitious, but the upside to having a kid is you become really efficient and can just crank stuff out during naps. You have no idea how much mundane crap you can get completed until your kid naps. The downside is that you forget to shower. I looked at myself in the mirror one morning on the way to a work meeting and for a second thought I had a ponytail in. Nope, my hair was just stuck like that. Luckily, friends watched Zara while I had to go to school or work, in order for Zara and I to be together a week earlier than expected.
As I approach a year with Zara, I look back and motherhood had its highlights, but also huge struggles. A struggle I have faced/am still facing in my first year of motherhood is comparison. I am not sure all of you know, but Zara doesn’t crawl. She butt scoots. She refuses to crawl and cries profusely when I put her in the crawling position like a sad, immovable puppy. She can butt scoot really fast though, to her credit – I mean really fast! Nothing is better than opening the door at a friend’s house who is watching her to see that adorably awkward speed scoot towards me. All funniness aside, this does not even begin to cover the struggle that is comparison as a mom. Google “kids who don’t crawl” and there are plenty of articles, written by moms/internet people saying that kids who don’t crawl are (fill in the blank with bad things). This doesn’t just go for crawling, either. It goes for what you feed your kids, what you do while your kid is playing, what toys you give your kid, how you decide to spank or not spank your kid, if you let your kid FaceTime, I mean the list goes on.
As a single mom, and I am sure many not-single-moms (double moms) struggle with this too, but personally, there is a lot of self-doubt in what I am doing. To be honest, I still have no idea what I am doing most days, I feel like I make a lot of stuff up. There are many subliminal mom-shaming messages that zing me, making me second guess myself. I didn’t read the books, I didn’t research expert opinions, I just pushed a kid out and call my mom a lot. But, I do know I am doing something right, because my kid is happy, healthy, and most importantly she is (overly) loved. Most days I have to constantly remind myself of that because it’s so easy to hear “well, you should be doing this” and take it personal, telling yourself aren’t good enough. I am sure other moms have to remind themselves of that as well, because if you google your mothering style, it’s for damn sure you’re doing something wrong (I’m sorry I bribe my kid occasionally with cheerios (read cheerios = Satan’s Sugar! as defined by mom blogs) – I just needed to finish my 40 page paper and she wouldn’t stop crying!)
Motherhood has also been great – I feel like I am always learning something. Like don’t let Zara near a rumba – she thinks it’s going to eat her. Also, sweep the floors because I have witnessed Zara eating a clump of dog hair. Kids are not always that smart. Motherhood has taught me that love is probably the most important ingredient of it all. I think the concept of motherhood intimidated me because I am thinking.. well.. I didn’t read Babywise or What to Expect When You’re Expecting (so I literally don’t know what to expect, it’s all a mystery), but none of that means a damn thing to a baby. It’s good to have some guidelines, and I admit, I sometimes error on the side of less information, but Zara just wants to know I am going to save her from the rumba or smile and pretend to eat her toy when she hands it to me.
Motherhood has also helped me take myself a lot less seriously, most days. I am constantly humbled by having all of these expectations for myself and for Zara and then having things go completely the opposite of what I planned, only to be a hilarious and unexpected adventure. This journey has taken me completely out of my comfort zone in terms of being able to making lists and have everything planned, going exactly as I want them to, but I am starting to understand that having Zara is teaching me that there are benefits of not always being so planned out, having fun, and going with the flow of motherhood that more resembles getting in a ring with Muhammad Ali.