I was the stereotypical mom walking through Target with a screaming two-year-old this morning.
Unlike our typical public outburst, though, which is usually followed by shame-fueled sobbing in the parking lot, today I have RISEN ABOVE and believe I have reached a higher level of motherhood. Whether I’ve become desensitized to the cries of my offspring or have just developed a newfound ability to cut through the ruckus to get a job done, I realized I am no longer fazed by the antics of hellion children in public.
At the height of this morning’s pandemonium, my blood pressure remained steady. My voice was calm and still, knowing nobody was sick or hurt. I was deliberate and level-headed, never wavering or giving in to demands. And then, when it became clear there would be no redirecting or coming back from the edge of tantrum, I walked out — baby strapped to my chest, three-year-old’s hand in mine, and a raging two-year-old on my hip, flailing backwards and screaming. My expression was stoic, Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” blaring in the background (or possibly just in my head?), and there was a swagger in my gait as I strut through the parking lot. Shades down. LIKE A BOSS.
I think this liberating phenomenon is one that must be reached after dealing with a certain amount of child-centric BS and public humiliation. If there are any moms out there who were able to maintain this level of cool with their first, my hat is off to you. For me, I felt like I had finally just gotten my black belt in motherhood.
‘Tis the season to be thankful, and it can be hard for many of us to pull ourselves out of our exhausted, overworked, eye-twitching world to realize just how lucky we are. Everyone knows we’re grateful for our spouses and kids and homes, but it takes a little something extra (usually vodka) to find gratitude in the tantrums and leaky diapers of daily life. Luckily for all you worse-for-wear parents out there, I will now illustrate how to dig deep and turn any less-than-perfect parenting moment into a reason to beam with gratitude. You can thank me later!
SITUATION NO. 1: In the epic struggle between your sense of shame and need for sustenance, the grocery store (and whatever children you’ve mistakenly brought with you) is winning. Maybe they ran out of car carts. Maybe the deli was offering slices of the wrong color cheese or the lobsters weren’t available for a meet-and-greet. Maybe you had to bag your own groceries next to a display of loosely packaged cookies within your child’s reach and said display is now laying scattered on the floor, crunching under your non-car-cart wheels. MAYBE you just made the mistake of having more than one kid with elbows and decided to strap them next to each other in a metal cage on wheels for an hour, hoping for the best.
TRY THE THANKFUL APPROACH: Thank you, grocery store, for never failing to create an incredibly humbling atmosphere in case I start to get too cocky about my parenting skills. The tantrums you elicit combined with your patrons who can’t resist telling me how full my hands are (without ever offering to help soothe a single thrashing, screaming toddler they don’t know… weird!) remind me that I am but a discarded cheese wrapper at the bottom of the shopping cart of life. If not for your weekly reminder, I’d have nothing but toddler church farts and garbage-can-tastings to keep me grounded. I vow to never give annoying, unsolicited parenting advice to anyone again, ever.
My kids are ages three and under, but I talk to them about God. I tell them the Bible stories, teach them about showing love to others, even sprung for a teething rosary. And every Sunday, we have “the church talk” on our way there, reiterating why people go to church and why it’s important to be as calm and quiet as possible: though today they are too little to fully grasp what we do there, it’s a place full of people we don’t want to disturb as they try to listen and pray.
And despite these measures, the torrent of infantile wailing and gnashing of teeth that so often awaits me in that Sunday service is almost enough to trigger an existential crisis.
I grew up attending weekly Catholic Mass and then studied religion in college. The church has always been a place I could go to find peace, learn, and connect with something bigger than myself. Since my kids started joining me three years ago, despite having still attended Mass almost every Sunday, I may have heard four minutes of sermon, total. So it made me wonder — as both a woman of faith and a mother of young children who could pass for your average exorcism candidates some Sundays — why bother taking them at all?
As the first of my friends to get pregnant three years ago, maternity photos were nowhere on my radar. But now it seems a glance at social media isn’t complete without stumbling upon one of these gestational shoots, a veritable milestone for the modern prego.
If you have somehow evaded this trend and get the chance to search “maternity photo ideas,” and I highly recommend you do, you will find they all seem to come from the same playbook. They are taken in a lavish forest or field, with a flowy dress and sometimes a crown of flowers(!), a doting husband full-on caressing an oft-bare, engorged belly. It’s as if every maternity photographer tells his clients he will turn them into Mother Nature herself if they just hold these cornflowers and flash a little of that popped bellybutton.
Though less common, other themes exist and are just as captivating. My favorites include the glowing mother-to-be shoving food in her mouth, and the pregnant woman who is on a bed and completely nude except for a lacy thong (or less). Because is there really a sexier time in a woman’s life than when she’s swollen and emotionally preparing for the imminent detonation of her birth canal? (READ: I’m just jealous.)
In general, these maternity shoots epitomize exactly what so many of us lose once that precious little bundle is born: glamour, willingness to allow ourselves to be pampered, ability to monopolize the spotlight and bask in everyone’s full attention. Naturally, my first thought was, YES I’LL HAVE SOME OF THAT PLEASE. What’s the big deal if I’m now on my third pregnancy and not my first?
Apparently, there’s a deal. Welcome to my third pregnancy! Continue reading