Once Upon A Time I Was The Perfect Mama…..Then I Had Kids
Before having kids, I always pictured myself as a cool mama. The type of mama who would allow all the fun games at home, with no restrictions whatsoever.
The cool mama that I had in mind allowed her kids to take bubble baths every night, for as long as they wanted. I imagined myself letting my kids mix the ingredients of a recipe all by themselves, encouraging them to make art with the different tools they found around the house, allowing them to go to bed when they pleased, and even giving them the freedom to work on their homework at their convenience. Cool mamas are not obsessed with grades and rankings, and I wanted to be that kind of mama.
Then, life happened and I eventually became a mama. With this, I discovered two major realities: kids are unexpected, and I hated surprises. That was when I realized that I was nowhere near being a cool mom. As a matter of fact, it turned out I was the complete opposite.
That’s how I came to think that I belonged to the “mean mamas” club. Those moms like to plan. They like to push their kids to become independent and autonomous. They don’t appreciate the mess, and they make sure that their kids are well aware of it. They push their kids to finish their meals and make sure that they go to bed at a specific time.
The more I discovered what mean moms did, the more I rejoiced in finding my tribe of mamas who parented the way I did.
I envisioned myself as the mama who knew it all. My – our – entire lives were planned around the phases that my daughter was going through so we could all meet her developing needs. At that time I was working mama, and I wanted to make sure that during my absence my baby had everything that she needed, exactly how I wanted her to receive it. With this, I slowly drifted away from being a mean mama to becoming someone who was aiming to become a perfect mom.
My plans were detailed, and they seemed efficient and fabulous until I had to deal with a toddler. Every time I had planned something, she very successfully managed to throw it all out of the window in the blink of an eye. In the endless battles of rationalized parenting versus hard-core emotions, I realized that I could keep one of two things: my visions of a perfect mama or my sanity. There was no place for both to survive simultaneously.
It turned out that my sanity was way more important than anything else. After all, without a sane mind, I wouldn’t be able to raise a kid, would I?
Besides, did it really matter when my daughter was potty trained? The way I saw it, this wasn’t going to make her any smarter (or dumber, for that matter) than any other kid out there. As I went through the different lists in my mind, I realized that my daughter would survive not finishing some of her meals, that she would not turn into a zombie for going to bed two minutes passed her bedtime, that she would not die from not washing her hands before eating, and that she would certainly not become less smart if I didn’t read her a book at bedtime.
With this, I learned to live by the moment and to lower my expectations. Actually no, scratch that. I learned to have no expectations at all.
This made me happier, more satisfied, and more ready to deal with the endless battles of opinion with my kids. In the end, who cares about those little details?
Not me. Not anymore.
Not my kids.
And certainly not my husband. Besides, I needed humor in my life. I needed to take a distance and laugh at the situations that were happening to me, in a way that mean and perfect mamas were too busy with the details to appreciate.
And at that point I found my tribe: I am a “who cares” kind of mama. The one who can still be cool (well, sometimes), who will negotiate dessert before the start of a meal to make sure her kids finish their plates, and who will let them play outside after taking their evening shower – because she wants them to enjoy life.
As a mama, I want my kids to learn to respect some boundaries while preserving my sanity, and above all, I want them to be happy. I think I might have found the right path to do so.
Image 1 sourced via Pinterest.