I am far from the first person to point out that parents- but especially moms- are under a lot of pressure to have it all, do it all, and be it all. The superwoman complex is abundant and it is so easy for it to find its way under the skin of perfectionists and recovering perfectionists, but no one is immune!
Maybe that’s why it is simultaneously so hard to hear one of my parenting peers tell me with guilt in their eyes or voices things like “oh… I’m not a baby wearing mom. I already felt so touched out from nursing…” and so refreshing to hear another mom confidently say, “that’s so cool you did that. I’m not a crafty mom.” (these happen to be two real examples… you could easily swap the examples- just pointing out the difference between the confidence and the guilt!)
We are all just trying to do the best we can and what works for one family is not necessarily going to work for another. So, while I usually like to focus on what I am instead of what I am not, today I wanted to give a few examples of what kind of mom I am not. Because I think if we all did this with a little more confidence, we could start chipping away at the myth that some perfect supermom exists and embrace the stuff we are good at without feeling shame for the activities we aren’t doing.
So here we go:
I’m not a sports mom. I know lots of moms who do an awesome job of exposing their children socially to sports from a young age with jerseys and attending games and throwing parties around sports. That’s not me. I’ve never been very good at playing sports personally. I don’t think I’ve been to a single sporting event since having my son and while I used to be a HUGE follower of basketball, these days I am lucky if I can check stats on NBA.com once a month. I can’t even tell you the last time I watched a full game. This might not last forever. I can’t wait to have the time to follow my teams again. I look forward to my exercise restrictions being lifted and getting back into yoga and hiking after this pregnancy is over, AND, based on some early personality traits of my son, I wouldn’t be surprised if we start having sports take up our weekends as he gets older and wants to be on various teams (he is SUPER physical!) but for right now, I’m just not a sports mom.
I’m not a model home mom. I may have made this confession before- but my husband does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to cleaning. This is particularly true when I’m pregnant and can’t handle the smell of cleaners- even vinegar- but even when that is not a hurdle, I’m just not good at realizing we should probably scrub the sinks before company comes over. Basic hygiene? sure. Dishes left more than a day give me the creeps and majorly pry on my anxiety. But odds are good if you come to my house you will find dust, floors that are vacuumed less than they should be, and at least one room in significant disarray. I am in awe of moms who manage a picture perfect house- even if it’s only that way when people are stopping by- because that’s just never been me and very rarely where I give priority when I’m looking at how to spend my time.
I’m not an exclusively breastfeeding mom: This is probably the most intimate I’ve ever gotten on my blog… We formula fed. I nursed for about six weeks but from day 2 I also had to supplement and I used to have a LOT of shame around that. I cried a ton. In my most hormonal moments I felt like I was wrecking my baby. We are long past the days of formula now and I rarely even think about it anymore aside from the fact that I’m getting ready to have baby number two and trying to manage my expectations of nursing again and walking the line between not wanting to be consumed by guilt for still not being that kind of mom and wanting to put my all into a longer, though probably non exclusive, nursing relationship and that no matter what happens it is still a personal decision, not one that should be up for judgement and shame.
I’m not a full time working mom or double income family mom. This means we can’t spend as much money on activities outside the home as families who do have dual earners. It means that even more now that we have a second kid on the way and some unexpected outcomes from this pregnancy have put more pressure on us. I struggle with this decision sometimes, but I can proudly say it is still the right one for our family right now. We are always reassessing and talking through this, and if it ever changes I will be proud of that decision too.
I’m not an eco guru mom: We try our best not to waste. We recycle. We care about the environment… but I can say without reservation that we love our plastic toys and we give our kids processed frozen waffles and packaged fruit snacks right alongside our CSA fruits and homemade soups. In fact, just today I was thinking how HAPPY I am that we have a plastic little tikes table instead of a fancier wooden one because that sucker is so easy to clean when crayon or paint gets everywhere. I love having friends that do fall into this category because when I’m ready to make little changes or substitutions they have amazing suggestions, but I am not that kind of mama.
I’m sure there are more, but those are the ones that popped into my head. I hope whoever you are you know that God gave you the perfect set of skills for YOUR child and the choice of which skills you want to develop and which skills you want to look at and say, “good for you, not for me.” And I hope if you happen to be reading this and you aren’t a parent, you know that the same principle of it being ok to not be everything to everyone applies just as much to you too!
*****A SMALL UPDATE- October 2017: I wrote this back when I was pregnant with my second child. She is now nine months old and I still haven’t watched a full basketball game, but I have gotten myself back to yoga and did manage to successfully breastfeed her so far thanks to some supplementing in the beginning!)