Off Duty Mom

Thoughts from an exhausted mom who is NEVER really "off duty"

To be (myself) or not to be (and bake cookies from scratch insead)

Since becoming a mother, I have grown.

I mean, I haven’t grown UP, per se, nor have I really become a better person, truthfully.  But, I have learned a thing or two about a thing or two.

Several months ago, I came to terms with the kind of mother I really was, regardless of the kind of mother I might hope or wish to be.  And in the time since, I have found great humor in re-learning over and over (sometimes the hard way) who I really was.


However, I find myself still wondering how to reconcile who I am versus who I think the world wants all of us moms to be.

Before having kids, I worried that I would make a lousy mother because I never really liked to play in the yard, get dirty, crawl on the floor, make baby talk, design handprint turkey paintings or use Play Doh.

It turns out that I still don’t like any of those things.  I mean, have you ever SMELLED Play Doh?  Jesus.

But, I really feel as though I will rock at tailgating for varsity football games, hosting sleepovers, chaperoning dances and giving advice to wayward teenagers whose own moms aren’t cool enough to tell about experiments with Zima and Jolly Ranchers or about brewing girl feuds on Instagram.

I don’t know why the Universe didn’t just allow me to give birth to 14-year olds.  I don’t know what to do with my children until that point.  Right now they are running around the room using a remote control and an old telephone to “zap” one another in some sort of faux galactic war.  I don’t really know how to take part in this.  But, they seem fine without me taking part in it at all.  Some piece of my heart, though, tells me that I am supposed to pick up that hairbrush over there, tell them that it is the ultimate celestial laser launch rocket that was invented to destroy the galactic war once and for all, run after my tiny fighting space pirates, and declare my interstellar victory as we all fall, laughing, into a pile of pillows and stuffed bears.  I could pretend, but in the end, this is just not who I am at my core.

So, I wonder if I am supposed to fake it.  Or if I am supposed to just go ahead and be me.  I want to be the awesome fun mom who dresses in a superhero cape or mentions building a snowman before the kids do.  But, I wonder if this is contrary to what I have been teaching my children about how to be honest about themselves.

IS this really what most be “above all” else?

The lessons I teach my children about being true to themselves, I believe, is one of the most critical lessons I can give them.  Am I supposed to follow my own advice or do a “better” job at being “better” with kids?  And, what does that really mean, anyway?

I know that no matter what I do, my children will eventually end up blaming me for something in some therapy session years down the road.  That’s what we all end up doing, anyway, right?  But, I would like to think that I did everything I could to send the right messages, be the right example and provide the best childhood for them that I could.

That’s a Wilde thought for ya.

Until then, I am going to go find my youngest kid some rainboots so that we can all go for a walk and splash in puddles.  I will probably whine on the inside that I am cold and dirty and cranky.  But, the kids will have smiles.  And, tomorrow, I can figure out whether I need to learn how to make Christmas ornaments out of pipe cleaners and Cheerios or not.

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9 thoughts on “To be (myself) or not to be (and bake cookies from scratch insead)

  1. Like your post. You might this one on a similar topic from a different perspective: Read to the end.

  2. I never really enjoyed getting down and playing much. I do enjoy baking.
    I don’t really like making messes. I don’t mind cleaning up.
    I’m a scheduled kind of person, but can let go from time to time and be spontaneous.
    I’m not a good storyteller but I love to read with my kids.
    It’s all about balance and getting those rain boots out even when you don’t want to and grabbing those moments when we can.
    They don’t need us to be perfect or velcro parents, they do need us to love them the best way we know how.

    • It is such a learning experience (for me, at least) to find out that we don’t need to be perfect, though. I beat myself up all the time for who I am or who I am not. I often forget that it is just the love that matters. I compare myself to the moms who make their own leopard-spotted cakes from scratch and wonder what is wrong with me. But, there isn’t a damn thing wrong, I suppose. That’s an interesting thing for me to be learning. Thanks for reading. I appreciate our kinship here on WordPress!

      • Amen on the self-flagellation….you are not alone. Probably why I have such a love/hate with Pinterest…I WANT to be that mom, but….meh….who has time for killing myself over a perfect cupcake…they only care what it tastes like anyway.

  3. I have to say, I’m enjoying being Mommy to a two-year-old much more than I enjoyed being Mommy to an infant. She and I really connect now, and I had no idea what I was supposed to do then. I still don’t.

    • I absolutely like being a mom to a 4-year old more than I enjoyed being a mom to an infant. I look back, though, and am sad that my baby is growing up, but I find the time we spend together to be more…my speed. Granted, part of it is that I have grown into the role as mother, but I am with you on this one: I feel as though I connect better with a child than with a baby. Some people are just baby people. I actually enjoy teenagers. I think that the baby people are a little nuts. I am sure they thing I am batshit crazy for choosing to be around teens. But, it is more of my “thing.” We all have a niche. I suppose that if we were all the same, the world would be a boring place…

      • I read about this before I experienced it, and I’m glad I did–it helps me realize that it’s okay to like different ages more than others. It’s not like I love or care for her less at other times.

  4. I think you have hit on a dilemma a lot of moms have. I know I have beat myself up mentally because it seems like I am not able to keep up with the Jones’ mom in any category: home decor, food preparation/pastry decoration, extracurricular kid activity, my own personal appearance. But I bet you are doing just fine where it counts: meeting your kids’ developmental needs and above all, letting them know they are loved. The rest is just bs, really. And who says you have to be the same kind of mom ALL the time? I know there are days when I feel like/have time to engage in serious playtime, or bake cookies with them. And then there are all the other days when chores and work and adult stuff (like being exhausted) gets in the way. We just do the best we can, with the resources we have at the moment, and keep on truckin.’
    Thanks for sharing!

    • I totally agree with you.

      I think, though, that there aren’t enough of us talking about this. Too many women around me are talking about the next Christmas cookie exchange or how much fun it is to go grocery shopping with four kids. I think they are all full of it, but nevertheless, the fact that these kinds of comments are so prevalent while the admissions from folks like us about how parenting can be hard (and that it is OKAY if it is!) are too few and far between.

      Thanks for reading! And, yes, we can all totally be different kinds of moms on different days. I was completely motivated to do holiday decorating today. Tomorrow I most certainly will not be. So it goes.

      Take care!

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