Here’s a thing I have actually said:
“Oh, I’ll never be that mom.”
LOLOL I KNOW, RIGHT?
The kind of mom I said I’d never be:
- The one who doesn’t make her kid home-cooked fresh meals every day.
- The one who doesn’t send hand-written thank you cards the day after a party.
- The one who loses her patience with her kids.
- The one who gives up her weekends to sew things despite not being particularly crafty or interested in that kind of thing.
- The one who breaks down and buys that expensive doll.
- The one rolls her eyes at mulch-eating instead of raising children who don’t think mulch is a food source.
It’s interesting to see how much I’ve changed in a decade of parenting.
Before kids, I saw these massive first birthday parties and thought, I’ll never be that mom who wastes all that money on something the kid won’t even remember.
My first child’s first birthday was out of goddamn control. It was a Sesame Street theme (BECAUSE THEY ALL MUST HAVE A THEME, RIGHT?) so I spent hours looking for “the best” coordinating plates, napkins, tablecloths, and mylar balloons. I made a song mix on the iPod. I made goody bags more fun than a trip to the carnival. I catered the stupid thing in a room at the hotel next to our apartment so people didn’t feel too smooshed because obviously we had to invite everyone who we’ve ever met to this shin-dig.
That party was epic.
So then I thought to myself, I’ll never be that mom who doesn’t plan something epic for her kids way in advance to make sure they feel super special on their birthdays.
Welp. Let’s fast-forward back to today, shall we?
My son’s 10th birthday is in 6 days. I’ll be away the weekend after it, so the best time for his party is this weekend. As in, two days from now. I JUST SENT EMAILS OUT INVITING PEOPLE TO CELEBRATE MY FIRST BORN CHILD’S 10TH BIRTHDAY TWO DAYS BEFORE THE EVENT.
I have become “that mom” who doesn’t plan a thing, and then—in a love-fueled panic—whips a celebration together in less time than it takes to bake and frost a dozen cupcakes.
I’m a planner, by nature and nurture, so this seems very unlike me. But my son is easy to please, and is super excited to mini golf with a couple friends.
I whipped my daughter’s 8th birthday party up in a similar fashion back in April. It was small, it was in my dining room, and she LOVED it.
No more hours planning, plotting, ordering invitations. I became someone who, on paper, kind of looks like of like a forgetful asshole. I prefer to see it as a time-saver who knows what makes her kids happy. I became that mom, and it’s not too awful, after all.
On the other side of the coin are the things I do that are still slightly insane and unnecessary or logistically ridiculous.
I thought I’d be that mom who could allow my kids boatloads of freedom everywhere we went, carry my reduce/reuse/recycle fanaticism into my parenting life, and never overbook them. And yet I’m mentally unable to let them roam too far on their own when we’re not on home turf, need to buy them new backpacks every fall for school, and somehow always end up booking camps and activities for them that start/end at the same time in different parts of town which cause me to basically build a time travel machine to ever get to anything on time.
Seems I was wrong again.
My friend and I were talking about this the other day. She has four kids and this fall she’ll have them in four different schools. Her plan has always been to send them all to the same school, but it’s not working out that way: they’re each quite different from one another and flourish in different environments. She said out loud, “I never thought I’d be that mom, but here I am,” and then she laughed at herself, because it’s not like that logistical nightmare isn’t something she’s willing to do for her kids. It was her choice, and she’s well aware of it.
(Don’t worry, I’m helping her carpool.)
Before I had kids—and back when I only had one—I said many times that I wouldn’t be “that mom,” then proceeded to totally be exactly that. Like my friend, I can only laugh at myself for proving myself wrong (again and again and—yep—again).
I’ll never be the mom who doesn’t make her kid home-cooked fresh meals every day…
…insisted the mom whose kids now pretty much fend for themselves because they know how to use a microwave.
I’ll never be the mom who doesn’t send hand-written thank you cards the day after a party…
…insisted the mom who recently texted pictures of her kid holding a “Thank You” sign in one hand and a gift in the other to each person who came to her party.
I’ll never be the mom who loses her patience with her kids…
…insisted the mom whose kids do a perfect impression of her when she’s pissed off at them to make her laugh.
I’ll never be the mom who gives up her weekends to sew things despite not being particularly crafty or interested in that kind of thing…
…insisted them mom who is now the proud owner of countless dolls and teddy bears and even a Darth Vader costume for a stuffed sheep.
I’ll never be the mom who breaks down and buys that expensive doll…
…insisted the mom who now has photo evidence of herself washing and setting that doll’s hair because her kid really really wanted it for ages and she found it on sale but still the price was that of three other quite similar dolls but, like I said, it made her kid so, so happy.
I’ll never be the mom who rolls her eyes at mulch-eating instead of raising children who don’t think mulch is a food source…
…insisted the mom who has adjusted her priorities and figures mulch consumption somehow builds their immune system, right?
The nice thing about being wrong over and over again about what kind of mom I will be is that it has made me less likely to judge another parent by her own sweeping statements and assumptions. Because we change. All of us. And that’s okay.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some overnight shipping I need to do on some birthday gifts.