There are a lot of things I need to quit doing. Eating a whole sleeve of Girl Scout Cookies for lunch is one example. Cleaning up the kitchen right away after dinner instead of spending that extra twenty minutes with my kids before bedtime is another. In fact the extra work once the kids are down would probably keep me out of trouble, i.e. keep my hands out of the Do-Si-Do’s.
As a Mom though, the thing I most need to quit is saying “never”.
I started this whole Motherhood journey with a long list of “I will never” statements.
My kids were never going to have more toys than I could easily put away into one small cabinet.
Now here we are:
Sometimes I happen upon this scene and consider channeling my inner Marie Kondo. I’d jump into the room with a high-pitched squeal, clap my hands and get down to the business of tidying up. There are just two small problems (well, 3 if you count the fact that I will truly *never* be MK’s size and therefore unable to pull off either jumping or squealing) … for starters, my kids could host their own Netflix special called The Art of Un-Tidying (and as quickly as possible). Second, the first thing I’d throw away would be the Boxy Girls Evelyn begged for for Christmas and hasn’t played with, asked after or thought about since. But I can guarantee as soon as I secretly donated them while she was in school one morning, she’d come home and say “I think today’s the day I’ll play with my Boxy Girls.”
You can see why this seems like a giant waste of energy.
Another thing I said I’d never do was be one of those women who held onto an extra 5 lbs after every kid.
Actual footage of me getting out my spring clothes last weekend.
In fact every summer my body looks more and more like Chris Farley’s, and it probably has more to do with my self-control during Girl Scout Season than it does my child-bearing season of life.
I watched Mrs. Doubtfire as a kid and swore I’d be nothing like that mean old Sally Field. Now, I feel this on a very deep level:
See, all these “never’s” do nothing but set us up for disappointment. A reality check or a change of opinion on the issue we were so black-and-white about leaves us feeling like we’ve failed both ourselves and our kids, and that’s the last thing we need to add to a mental load that’s already at capacity. (And I mean AT CAPACITY). And furthermore it alienates us from the other Moms who we should be in community with, despite different parenting styles and a whole slew of things we might be tempted to judge.
Consider the following photo.
My knee-jerk response to this image includes a whole lot of nevers. But, I should probably change that to “you never know.” If my post-baby body ever looks anything like Heidi Pratt’s you might find a very similar portrait on the most prominent wall of my house. I mean probably not. But I’m done ruling things out.
If I’d met me back in my nannying days, I’d have made an actual on-paper list of things I’d never do, and it would have been long. Evelyn has started wearing a pioneer bonnet everywhere we go, I don’t put coats on my children as long as it’s above 0, and Alex has not had a bath in 93 days. That’s not an exaggeration.
Let’s just say I would not have stopped to make friends with me.
But I wouldnt have known that Alex has a viral rash that prohibits him from bathing with his sisters’ until it goes away, which could take 18 months. And no way am I running 3 separate baths. Plus he has swim lessons every Monday, he hasn’t seen the sun or therefore sunscreen in 10 months and since he refuses to give up diapers, he is wiped clean at least three times a day. The kid’s clean enough.
I wouldn’t have known that Evelyn has some weird syndrome that causes her to have extra fragile hair that can easily be pulled out, so we can’t pull it back like we used to unless she wants some big ‘ol bald spots. She’s also currently obsessed with Little House on the Prairie and so when she pulled that bonnet out to play Laura Ingalls and it served to keep her hair out of her face, I wasn’t going to argue.
This post isn’t painting a very pretty medical picture of my children.
But I’d willing to bet almost everyone reading this has a kid with something weird, and you don’t see it on Instagram.
We’re all fighting battles. Small or large, they’re there, and we should quit battling with ourselves over things that don’t turn out to be as important as we thought they were. We’ll get back to tidy houses and somewhat presentable bodies, but for now we need to embrace the mess, the gross and the wierd headwear our children pick out. This will pass and we’ll miss it.
Well, most of it.