As I sat on the couch the other night and looked around my living room at the three sprawled out bodies of my kids (ages 9, 7, and 2 ½) flung over the arms of two chairs and an ottoman while watching The Voice, it hit me that the wind in my house was starting to blow in a different direction. My house is no longer filled with bouncers and swings and plastic play kitchen food from an afternoon tea party with my daughter. The dress up clothes have been put in the basement, and the 10,000 match box cars that raced in the hallway on a daily basis are now being stored in my youngest son’s bedroom. The closets are filled with soccer cleats and baseball helmets, and the comforting background noise of Disney Jr is being replaced by whatever CD my daughter is currently obsessed with. Even though my youngest is only 2 ½, his goal in life is to keep up with the older two and therefore, he’s grown up so much faster than they ever did. Plus he just hit what I like to call the, “Yep, that guy’s your dad” phase. This seems to happen between 2 ½ and 3 years of age, and although it’s something I’ve daydreamed about, it stings so bad when your baby no longer only accepts comfort from you and has realized his dad’s a pretty cool guy too. I find this phase also leads to me obtaining a new name. I’m no longer mom, but I’m referred to as Robyn or poopy head (in the most loving sense of course). Yes, my household is growing up, and with that, my role as mom is growing as well.
My role now is shifting from my being a life sustainer, to my being more of a guide on my kid’s journey. It feels like just when you get the hang of one thing in the parenting department, things change and therefore, you’re back to having no clue what you’re doing again. Here I sit, thinking about all the new challenges that lie ahead for me as a mom. The sex/drug talk, the struggle for more independence, the drama of wanting to fit in, the teaching of coping skills when you lose a game or don’t make a team, are all realities that now loom over me. Alligator wrestling a child into a coat he/she doesn’t want to wear no longer seems like such a challenge. Maybe giving a bath for the third time in one day because my son refused to stay out of the mud isn’t really that daunting of a task. I see now when other parents say, “Enjoy this because you’ll miss it,” they truly mean it and it’s true.
As Mother’s Day peeks its head around the corner, I have to smile inside as I recall what that day has looked like for me in years past. Usually Mother’s Day for me has been spent getting homemade crafts that my kids made at daycare, along with breakfast by my husband and then a day pretty typical of any other. I longed for the Mother’s Day where I would sleep till noon and then emerge from my bedroom well rested with a surprise 2:00 appointment for a day of pampering at the spa with my girlfriends. Truth be told, I always felt like Mother’s Day was a day to cut the cord from your kids for half a day and actually focus on the fact that in order to be a good mom, you need to remember to take care of yourself and of course the best way to do that is by drinking mimosas while getting a pedicure. This Mother’s Day, however, I’m feeling the speed which my own journey is taking, and how this may be my last Mother’s Day to truly savor all of my heathens being little. I don’t feel the desire to peel out of my driveway for a day to myself like I once did. I want to BBQ in the backyard while I drink a beer and we play tether ball together (don’t judge it’s actually pretty fun). I look forward to the hand print craft that my youngest will bring home for me from preschool. Instead of saying, “Wow that’s great, Andrew,” and then putting it on the fridge with 15 other colored pieces of “art work”, I want to put it in my bedroom to admire for as long as I can. See, what I’m realizing is that as my kids grow, I’m growing too. I mean, after all, I was only 26 years old when I gave birth to my first and very much naïve as to what it meant to be a mom. As time has passed and I’ve tried to learn and grow to fulfill my role, I’ve realized that my kids have given me way more than I will ever be able to give them. Yes, they’re the reason I’ve locked myself in my closet and cried, not because of something they did. It’s because I’ve felt like I’ve failed them in some way and need to desperately find a way to be better for them. I’ve finally realized that being a good mom isn’t about being the best; it’s about giving it your best. It’s about seeing the flaws we have and instead of making an excuse or a justification for them, actually taking strides to overcome them. This Mother’s Day as I pat myself on the back for being able to keep three kids breathing at the end of every day, I’m also going to give myself an internal thumbs up for seeking to be a better version of myself. I’ve made strides this year to see that it’s OK to grieve people you no longer want in your life, and to realize that sometimes the easiest way to solve a problem is to stop participating in it. I’m loving the person I’m becoming because I’m fighting to become her, and I have my children to thank for that.
With that I say, “All hail to us moms” because this parenting thing is no joke. Experience is the most brutal of teachers, and, man, do I have some experience under my belt and the battle wounds to prove it. To all the moms out there fumbling through, please remember you’re not alone. On this Mother’s Day, whether it’s your first Mother’s Day or your 31st, I raise a glass to all who are like me and striving to be more than they have ever been. You’ve got this, ladies, and be thankful for your struggles because without them you wouldn’t have stumbled across your strengths. Cheers and Happy Mother’s Day, Mommas!!!
“Motherhood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you thought you’d have. It’s about understanding he is exactly the person he’s supposed to be. And, if you’re lucky, he might be the teacher who turns you into the person you’re supposed to be.”
-Joan Ryan, The Water Giver
This post was also featured on the amazing Count Me Healthy blog, countmehealthyinspo.com, by Chelsea Charles. Please check out Chelsea’s blog for tips on embracing a healthy, mindful life. You can also follow Count Me Healthy on facebook at www.facebook.com/CountMeHealthyJewelry.