The Kind Of Mother I REALLY Want To Be

Pre-motherhood, I had a vision of the kind of mother I wanted to be.

(left to right) Jerry Mathers, Barbara Billingsley and Tony Dow in "Leave It to Beaver"

Ok, maybe not this extreme, but I thought it would be all butterflies and sunshine and playing together and being nice. Apparently, my mom made it look EASY.

Spoiler alert: What I envisioned is nothing like the mother I am. Not even close.

Sure, I hit most of my babyhood/toddler/early childhood milestones – I changed a gazillion diapers (we’re still going with that one), I breastfed for a million years (well worth the time and effort, they are some of my favorite memories), I did the whole not sleeping then, which I then followed it up with the whole sleep training thing. I am diligent about vaccinations. My kids get flu shots and go to the Dr. for they annual checkups. I have done hours of research on fevers, colds, coughs, diarrhea, and vomiting. I spent countless hours worried about those same things. I kiss them a million times a day (I would if that were possible) and I tell them how much I love them even more than that.

But, motherhood is so incredibly different. Of course, it’s harder – but it’s more than that. There are so many more dimensions to it than I ever thought possible. I frequently use the phrase “herding cats” — but it’s even more than that. Actually, I think my issue ISN’T the kids part. I mean, I love my kids. I would do anything for them. However, they are kids. They don’t know what the hell they are doing. It’s my JOB as a mom to make them the best people they can be. I think what gets to me the most is that society/most people you know think you are are going to have the most perfect children alive – from birth. I totally accept my kids’ flaws and that it’s my responsibility to teach them right from wrong. But there is so much pressure — so much more than I ever imagined — to be the perfect parent. I would love to the parent who is always there, always watching, always volunteering, best friends with all of the teachers, and constantly involved with my kids. If anyone wants to share me the secrets to doing that WITH a full-time (and demanding job), I’m all ears. Quitting said job is not an option, nor would that be true to who I am as a mother.

That said, I’m fairly certain I’m never going to be THAT mother. No, it just doesn’t suite me. Instead I think I’m a little bit of this…

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combined with a little bit of this…

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and a little of this…

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And a few other inspirational, yet imperfect, moms over the years.

I’m going to be the mother who loves her babies (and they will always be my babies) with reckless abandon. I will kiss and hug my kids in public, even it embarrasses them (ask my 3rd grader). I will tell my daughter she is beautiful, smart, and can do anything her brothers can do, and maybe things they cannot – not because it’s a positive message, but because it’s true. I will tell my sons that they are handsome, smart, and can do anything their sister can do, and maybe things she cannot- not because it’s sexist if I don’t, but because it’s true. Ultimately, my kids can and will do whatever the hell they are capable of doing. That’s not up for me to decide — just to steer, guide, and some day… let go.

I am and I’m going to continue to be the mom who struggles with each stage.. who questions if she is doing things “right.” I am the mom who worries. I am the mom who tries to fix things. I am the mom who sweats the small stuff. I may not always appear to be that mom, but I can put on a good show. I am ALWAYS that mom.

I am  also the mom with amazing friends who don’t define themselves by what TYPE of mother they are. Stay-at-home, work-at-home, work-out-of-home… you know what? I don’t give a f**k. Do you understand the struggles of being a mom? OK cool, let’s be friends and bitch about it — and also plan fun events together. We all have different experiences as mothers – why not focus on what we have in common? There’s always something.

So after all of this rambling, do you want to know what type of mom I WANT to be?

One who is needed and loved. One that makes mistakes, but keeps trying. One who knows when to ask for help. One who sets a good example (most of the time). One who teaches her kids that sarcasm, humor, and being silly are just as importance as book smarts and an education. One who values friendship and encourages best friends. One who can crack jokes and play tricks — and expect the same in return. One who pushes her children to try new things, even if they aren’t good at them. One who recognizes and celebrates the strengths in her children – even if they aren’t ones that she can related to or identify with. One who swears – and teaches her kids that words are powerful so they should be used sparingly/appropriately. One who travels with her kids and shares experiences with an open mind. One who doesn’t act like she’s perfect. One who understands her limits. One who dances with her kids, even if it embarrasses them. One who isn’t afraid of what people think of her. One who doesn’t judge other moms for their choices, mistakes, and imperfections. One who makes memories, preferably good, that they will hold in their hearts and someday share with THEIR families. One who spends quality time with her family and makes the most of those moments despite busy schedules, deadlines, travel, and everything in between. One who lets their kid look like a disaster out in public because if meant they had amazing time…

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Will I ever REALLY know if I’ve been a “successful” mother? Doubtful. What is success?

I will be content if I can manage even half this list. Hell, I will be content if I managed the first item on the list. Being needed and loved — deep down, who imagines motherhood being more than anyway? It’s the best part.

What kind of mother do YOU want to be? What kind of mother did you think you WOULD be?

Moments

Continuing my project… here are a few of my recent moments. The best ones are caught when they don’t think I’m looking…

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He does make a good armrest.

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Summing up how it feels to be eight — almost 9.

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Staring contest. It’s requirement for all dogs that we dog sit.

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Play like a girl.

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You sit here. Now.

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Just letting the kids light things on fire.

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Just doing a little work before happy hour.

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They will have to recreate this picture in 10 years.

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#hashtag

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He can ALMOST reach it.

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These two are always cuddling.

UntitledHe may be turning two next week, but he’s still my baby.

 

What Nobody Told Me About Parenting (So Far)

When I first found out I was pregnant with Braeden many moons ago (umm… almost 10 years ago!), I was scared to death. And I was so, so, so focused on ME and how my life was going to change, what I was going to do with a baby, how I would be a better parents than so many of those “bad” parents out there. You know, the ones who suck.

HA.

Hahahahahahahahahaha.

Did I mention HA?

In the past 9 years I have discovered they write a million and twenty baby books BECAUSE THAT IS THE EASY PART. You can write for days about typical baby behavior. You can solve sleep issues with a little patience, a lot of white noise, and  little crying (both you and the baby).  Keeping a baby alive? Just read about it in a book and follow the directions. You can do it! As long as you feed, change, and hold that baby — you are the BEST parent in the world. Ahhhh… sweet bliss. I’m still enjoying it with Evan. Kinda.

You know what’s really kicking my ass? Everything past age 5 – especially with my oldest.

Yeah – it’s that’s time of year when testing is over, the teacher’s patience is gone ,and the kids are acting a little wilder than usual. However, third grade has been particularly difficult and we are finally going to see a specialist about B’s behavior next month (who knows if it will help, but at least someone can listen to us). Thanks to his amazing teacher this year, we’ve actually been able to pinpoint his issues (opposed to just hearing “Braeden’s behavior is horrible.”) He’s constantly in his own little world at school — drawing or ripping up pieces of paper or playing with erasers. Nothing motivates him. He couldn’t care less if he has to sit out of recess (hey – at least he has it this year!) or move his “clip” down in class (in fact, I think he actually like the attention — PS behavior charts are the devil when your kid doesn’t care about them). He’s passing (and I’m sure he did fine on his FSA tests), but his grades are mediocre at best and there’s really not an excuses. This kid — he is SMART. Smart enough to be an A student. He just doesn’t want to do the work or care about it at all. AND I CAN’T FIGURE OUT WHAT MAKES HIM TICK.

Truthfully, this is a side of him that we rarely see. To me, he’s a great kid. He’s sweet, he’s fascinated by learning, and he’s FUNNY (he loves making people laugh). At home he does his homework with little issue, he loves reading, and he loves playing outside with friends. Although he doesn’t always admit it – he loves spending time with his brother and sister. We limit the electronics/technology. He doesn’t have a phone or an iPod. We don’t watch much TV during the week, and we encourage both play amongst siblings and alone time.

SO… WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?

Why isn’t there a book on THIS? Or at least one that tells me EXACTLY what I need to do.

In addition, I’m raising a little lady who LIVES for telling me how good she is being when he brother is in trouble (a lot). I have to admit, she’s really good. She does well in school and rarely gets in trouble (and when she does it’s mostly for talking). She’s also sassy, headstrong, charming, dramatic, and she scares the hell out of me. And she’s ONLY 6. I’m happy I’m raising such a dynamic little lady who is so the opposite that I ever was (I was definitely a lot more like Braden), but I have a feeling I’m in for it.

And then there’s E. Oh man, I am smitten by him. He is forever my baby and truly still a baby (for another 6 months — GIVE THOSE MONTHS TO ME), but how spoiled is he going to be? I rarely say no.

So yeah, I really DO love being a parent. Their happiness is the world to me and there is nothing better than making them laugh or smile — except maybe a hug, a kiss, and an “I love you.” But, there are so many things I didn’t expect to suck at — and I’m sure this is just the beginning.

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Good thing they’re cute.

Yay parenting!

What do you struggle with as a parent? No struggle is too small. In fact, it’s the small stuff that frustrates me the most.

Moments

Like most people, I tend to get caught up in the things that don’t matter. As a mom to little ones, I get up caught up in the noises, the messes, the whining (OMG THE WHINING), the talking back, the “no’s”, the “why’s”, and, of course, the bickering.

However, my oldest is about to turn 9 (yes, 9) — and all at once, it’s hitting me like a ton of bricks. That’s HALFWAY to adulthood (although… is 18 really an adult these days?). It’s cliche, but true — the days are long, but the years are much too short — and I really need to stop thinking and nitpicking on the things that are going to drive me to the brink of insanity. I probably just need to accept that this is what being a parent is. Kids are imperfect but perfect reflections of yourself. Always.

Instead, I’m trying ( I’m REALLY TRYING) to notice the little moments. The inbetween seconds when nobody thinks anyone is looking. The moments of kindness, love, and kinship. The sly smiles. The full-body joy and happiness that seems to fade once kids drift into teenage land. After all, these are the moments we flash back to, right? These are the moments we remember and long for when we are feeling nostalgic (most of the time — too bad nobody caught a picture of my brothers chasing me around our yard with rakes, because I whacked them with my tennis racket).

So my project for the year (or however long)… is to capture and share my favorite moments each week. Maybe I’ll throw in a few of my favorite childhood moments along the way…

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They just pulled up some chairs in the middle of our friends’ house. Together.

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In this exact moment, they were driving me absolutely crazy – rolling around on the floor in public (L’s dance studio), yet now they are adorable.

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These are the types of things that happen when they don’t think you aren’t looking…

What moments meant/mean the most to you?

Won’t you join along? :)

Call It A Comeback…Maybe?

I’ve spent the last few weeks attempting to write about the last two half marathons I’ve raced in (I use that term loosely) — and I just haven’t brought myself to do it.

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I guess this is mostly because they were less than ideal races (personally – the races themselves were great and well-managed), but also because the idea of writing about running while I’m not enjoying it felt tiresome…feels tiresome.

However, I DO miss writing and sharing my (not so special) life, so I think making a comeback. Or at least I’m going to attempt to write more often. Probably NOT about running (despite the blog name) – although, I am hoping to make a comeback there too. Eventually.

So with that… a re-introduction and an update on my life…

You may have forgotten – my name is Michelle.

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I’m tall and I’m socially awkward. I don’t like hugs. I’m married to a redhead (12+ years), and we have three kids. None are redheads.

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I somehow now have an almost 9-year old, a 6-year old, and an almost 2-year old (how is that possible? Wasn’t I just pregnant?).

I recently went through a phase where I thought I would grow my bangs out. It was a mistake. The bangs are back.

By day, I am an instructional designer (click here if you have no idea what that means!). I’m technically a project lead/manager and last month I drove to Mississippi with my two bosses, so I’m clearly living the glamorous life.

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Bonus, I learned how to spell Mississippi without having to do the rhyme (kidding. maybe).

My other job is, of course, mom — aka dance mom, soccer mom, helicopter mom, mommeeee mom, personal chef, and chauffer – among various other titles.

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I often question my sanity, which is why I drink a lot of wine.

Nah, just kidding. It’s my favorite job. The hours are tough, but I love my little family. This year we’ve made a bigger effort to experience more with them and it’s given me an enhanced perspective. Plus, there’s less yelling. And more fist bumping.

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In my spare time I enjoy reading, watching TV, working out, napping, avoiding cleaning until I can procrastinate no longer, eating, drinking wine, and drinking wine with friends. I’d like add running back to this list. We’ll see where this year (and racing hiatus) takes me.

So that’s me and where I’ve been for the last 6 or so months.

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Let the comeback begin!