Growing up, I wanted four children. Two boys, one girl, then another boy. I distinctly remember the day I changed my mind. I was in college and working as a cashier at Lowe’s. A woman with four young kids came through my line. The baby was crying. The other three were either whining or running around causing chaos. That mom didn’t have enough hands. The thoughts running through my head were, “Why can’t this woman control her kids? When I’m a mom, my kids will NOT act this way in public!”
Fast-forward a few (okay, more than a few) years to today. I’m in Target begging my fifteen month old to sit down in the front of the cart. She’s screaming, trying to grab things off the shelves, and attempting to step out of the lap belt. People are staring. I am that mom, but I don’t even have enough hands for one child! Let’s just say that I have stopped judging other moms for having unruly children in public.
I’ve learned a lot of things since having a child. I am not the mother I thought I would be. I don’t make all of my own baby food from scratch. Sometimes, if it’s been a long day, my daughter ends up playing with the iPad or watching tv. I’ve even been known to hide in the bathroom looking at Facebook for 20 minutes when my husband gets home from work. I never assumed motherhood would be easy, but I had no idea it would be this hard. My days are filled with moments that find me unsure of myself. How do I balance being a caring mother while not giving in to her every whim? What do I do when she refuses to take a nap or eat lunch? That woman who knew exactly how she would parent everyone else’s children, doesn’t even know what to do with her own. I don’t have all the answers. I second- guess myself constantly.
We live in a Pinterest world filled with perfect homes, perfect parties, and perfect mothers with perfectly behaved children. But, beyond those pictures are mothers like the one I saw that day. Mothers like me. I’ve learned that being a mom means not always being able to plan how I’ll react to every situation. I have to be flexible and roll with the punches. Sometimes, I have to navigate a tantrum at Target. I do the best I can. And now when I see a mom struggling to keep it together at Lowe’s, I give her an understanding smile.