When I first had kids I had aspirations about the kind of Mom I was going to be.
Scratch that. Before — longggggg before — I had kids, I had these aspirations.
I knew how I wanted holidays to look, dinners together around the table every night, we’d bake together, I’d always be present and crafty and lovely.
Like June Cleaver or Carol Brady with a bit of an edge. I told you I was a daydreamer, right?
Then, the actual kids came along.
For a while, I did pretty well living up to the image I’d set for myself. My Pinterest boards were perfectly organized and brimming with creativity. I taught myself to cook & bake and found that I really enjoyed being in the kitchen, and I was actually good at it!
As someone who had once cooked Fettuccine Alfredo for my hubby, complete with store-bought everything, and burned every ingredient —including the noodles — this was a feat of amazement!
The boys were signed up for library playgroup, swimming lessons; anything they were old enough to do, we took part in.
I started collecting unique, adorable holiday decorations; handcrafting garland for each holiday, updating the chalkboard with new hand-drawn artwork each week, making sure the jars on the counter were always filled with home-baked goods.
In short, ensuring that my boys would have Hallmark-grade memories to look back on; forget the fact that they were likely too young to have any recollection of any of it.
But in my mind, all these things made me better. I was killing it at the Mom game. Except, when I wasn’t.
See, after having kids I learned something about myself that wasn’t as evident before, either because I was young, or I simply wasn’t paying attention — patience is a virtue that I do NOT have.
Baking? That’s my time to unwind in the kitchen. So all those Hallmark movie style montages I’d planned in my head, actually turned out like me clenching my teeth and barely making it through as flour got dumped on the floor and I struggled not to flip my lid and kick everyone out of the kitchen so I could take over.
I am a perfectionist at my core and when things don’t turn out the way I envision them, I am not here for it.
So much for all those warm & fuzzy memories that I’d planned to create.
I followed a blog at the time written by a Mom who had her first baby around the same time I did. She seemed so creative and fun; posting all these adorable photos of the cool things she’d come up with for holidays or baking with her little one, watching movies, beautiful outings.
I idolized her — she was everything I thought I wanted to be. But in all these blog posts, all I saw were smiling faces and blocks of text about how perfect life was.
When I couldn’t live up to that, I felt it. Hard.
Surely there was no way this perfect mother was losing her shit on her kids at the end of a trying day like I just had. She couldn’t possibly know the Mom guilt that comes from losing your patience with your toddler for the fifth time that day.
And there’s absolutely no way she was barely scraping through activities with the kids with a weak impatient smile on her face behind that camera. The kind of Mom I was trying to live up to didn’t do those things. There it was, right there in Photoshopped colour; she had her shit together, and I… did not.
But the thing is, everyone thought I had my shit together.
I was regularly being praised for my picture perfect Instagram feed, my well-dressed kids, and our well coordinated and photographed activities; as if I was the one to be admired. While I had actual inner turmoil about not stacking up, apparently from the outside looking in, I was.
It made me uncomfortable, and at first, I wasn’t sure why. Because while initially, I was pleased — I was pulling it off! — I soon realized it was a sham.
They didn’t see me yelling in those photos, my kids melting down, the timeouts, me locking myself in the bathroom that day for a breather. It wasn’t real.
As more of my friends started having babies behind me, I began reflecting.
I didn’t want any of them to feel the way that I did as I cruised through this woman’s blog; that wasn’t real life. Surely she was experiencing many of the same things I was. She had to be.
But it’s hard not to get caught in the comparison trap.
“Don’t compare yourself to other Mothers. We’re all losing our shit, some women just hide it better than others.”
So, fuck the highlight reel.
Life isn’t a perfectly curated Instagram feed, and one cannot sustain being a consistently Pinterest-perfect Mom without sacrificing sleep and sanity — but if that’s you, get it, girl!
Just don’t pretend you smile at your kids every moment. Because you’re full of shit.
Or maybe you do, who am I to judge? But… you might be catching some side eye from me.
These days, when I’m baking or crafting or doing any of the things I do, it’s because I enjoy it, not because I have something to prove.
I can tell you with absolute confidence, we’re a hot mess 75%+ of the time — and I’m not just saying that in a giggly, basic, ironic way while being perfectly put together — legit.
I love my boys. I want them to have great memories of growing up, but I also want them to be real memories, not fabricated. That means they get their Mom in all her imperfect, impatient, flawed glory.
I will stage the shit out of a birthday party, I’ll bake for them till the cows come home, I’ll go to the ends of the earth for them. But I’ll also yell like a psycho, snap irritably and make them hyper-aware of when they’re being highly annoying.
Mom of the year? Nope. But I’m working on it, in a real way.
I’m also making guilt cookies. And grinning & bearing the help from the kids. I’m still an impatient perfectionist. It’s a process.
This post was originally published on the Float And Sting Blog