There is no return policy when it comes to your children, no going back once you have crossed over into motherhood. And even on the days when I wish with all my might for just a few hours of clearheadedness like the days before those babies, it ain’t gonna happen. Sometimes there are things that I just have to accept as unchangeable about them and myself.
But that doesn’t mean I have to love it all.
I have been thinking about some things that I may have accepted but am just not really “there yet” when it comes to fully embracing my situation. For example…
The Mom Car. I had a moment of realization when I was pregnant with kid #3 that my multitude of car seats were not going to fit in that cute little Camry that I was so happy to drive. It was a serious hit to my self-esteem that the minivan was the most practical and affordable solution. There may be many moms who haven’t fully crossed over to the Swagger Wagon team, but you most likely have a ton of evidence in your car of children: school papers, stray Crayons, extra outfits, enough crumbs to feed every pigeon at the mall…. It would take serious effort from a team of car detailers to make my car look like it doesn’t transport all the minions every dang day.
My secret weapon: Car dance parties. At some point I will be driving by myself and turn on some crazy-fun, not-kid-appropriate jams. And I will pretend like I am still carefree and spontaneous, even if it only lasts 10 minutes. Bonus points if I am in the car with the husband and it is a song from our younger days. If I am already looking uncool riding around in my minivan, at least I can have a big smile on my face while singing “Ice Ice Baby.”
The lack of “Me Time.” I remember those carefree days when we would start getting ready at 8:00 P.M. and spend the night out with friends. If I stayed up too late, I would just catch a long nap the next day (or skip out on most of my responsibilities entirely). I showered alone and went to the restroom alone whenever I dang well pleased. And I had no idea how much all of those things would come to an end. I know these years with smaller kids are possibly more demanding (right? please tell me this gets better…), but I gotta say that it can be draining.
My secret weapon: Time with a true friend. It may not be frequent, and we might have children running wild just out of our line of sight, but over the years I have learned that honest conversations with my friends can do the job of filling up my emotional tank again. I have dropped in on one of my closest friends at 9:00 P.M. on a weeknight just because I wanted to see her face and catch up on life. It is worth carving out time for because it nourishes my spirit.
The Mom Bod. Nobody seems to be making catchy videos singing its praises, but the Mom Bod is a reality that most of us have come to understand. Even after I lost the same amount of weight that I had gained, my body was just not the same shape! Clothes fit differently because there are parts that accommodated a tiny person and have no intention of going back to where they were before. No amount of lotion is going to get rid of those stretch marks. And forget about trampoline jumping, a tolerance for alcohol, or the ability to focus and remember things. This body has been through a lot, but it is the only one I am ever gonna get.
My secret weapon: A more realistic filter for seeing myself. When I look at the images that women are bombarded with in the never-ending quest to be younger/thinner/more attractive, I now see them through a lens of kindness to myself. I am more careful about the media that I consume. I remind myself that when I see a finished image trying to sell me something, the person pictured doesn’t even look like that. I love honest celebrities who explain they wear two pairs of Spanx to walk the red carpet and had a team of people attending to their every need. I can always do things to keep myself healthy and feel good without comparing myself to manufactured standards of beauty. And Spanx help, too.
The need for practicality. I jokingly told my husband that my thirties feel like the decade of everybody else. I have no problem spending money on cute clothes and shoes…for my children. But I feel guilty doing the same thing for myself. I have learned to be frugal on things that may seem inconsequential. If I spend more than $25 on something, I feel compelled to use it all even if I decide that I don’t like it. And there have been many years when my hair has been six inches shorter than it once was because it is just faster and easier. (Shout-out to my husband, who is still sorry for calling that first drastic makeover my “mom haircut,” which made me feel super attractive….)
My secret weapon: A reminder that my needs matter. Maybe I get $10 extra cash back every week at the grocery store and then go get a manicure. Sometimes I save up gift cards from Christmas and my birthday and go on a one-day shopping spree. A little treat to myself every now and then makes me feel like I can enjoy the fruits of my labor as a grownup. I definitely don’t advise anyone to spend irresponsibly on things they can’t afford, but there are lots of things for under $100 that are a break from the normal day to day. Go get that massage. Buy a great quality investment piece for your wardrobe. Take a friend out for a fabulous meal that neither of you have to cook or clean up after!
There are a million things that are amazing about being a mom. I wouldn’t trade it for the world (although I did have that one weird dream about it…). Let’s be real and admit that there are also certain things that we are just stuck with. So please allow me be the one to say (and you are welcome to join in if you feel the same), I don’t love it all and you can’t make me. For today, I am trying to focus on the flowers and not the weeds.