Let's face it, a lot of the stereotypes about moms are rooted in fact. On TV, the mom is always rushing with messy hair, dropping her car keys in the toaster, and forgetting something crucial, like her second-last born. (SAME!) Her house is messy, the living room is strewn with toys. She's got the messy bun and a stain on her shirt that says, "I AM A MOM," even when her TV children are off at TV school. She is defined by her kids. We buck against this stereotype, but honestly, that's me. As a mom of four, my days have devolved into a constant battle against the clock, lost keys and cellphones, hollering, and, yes, putting my hair up in a messy bun. Come at me.
I honestly do not care if my version of motherhood fulfills every cliché in the book. We spend an inordinate amount of time trying to prove to ourselves that we are more than a stereotype, that we have rich, exciting inner lives as mothers, have been "liberated" from on-screen sainthood, and can have it all. But actually, I'm totally cool with being the quintessential mom in the yoga pants and Nikes, mostly for the comfort but also for the look. More importantly, I object to the idea that a mom who builds her world around her kids is somehow a sad, lesser version of the shiny "I have kids but I'm not totally about that" mom.
If you look at my Instagram, there may be a few selfies of me. Perhaps one or two in the past month or so, but the rest of the posts are all of my kids. Yes! You got me! I post them because I have a lot of family still in Chicago, and they can easily go onto my Instagram to see how my day is going by watching my Insta-story or comment on pictures of my four kids.
For a while, I got really into being a mom, and even considered doubling down on my mom-ness by becoming a kindergarten or preschool teacher.
Instead of hitting the pavement to sculpt my glutes or raise seed funding for my outer space startup, my days revolve around my kids. My three older daughters are in elementary school, so a good portion of my day is spent alone with my son, Kai. I have our days scheduled most of the time, including a little bit of TV time after school drop-off, with Kai watching Blues Clues while I enjoy my coffee. When I'm cooking dinner, he's in his highchair watching me from the dining room, or I'll put him on my hip, in safe distance, so he can see the food cooking. When he plays with his toy food, we make sipping noises and loud "num num num" noises, pretending to eat. Textbook mom behavior.
For a while, I got really into being a mom, and even considered doubling down on my mom-ness by becoming a kindergarten or preschool teacher. I believed I had the talent, energy and empathy to be a great teacher for small kids. But as I got busier with my own kids, writing, doing stand up and acting, I stopped taking classes. If my goal was to mom professionally, well, I was already doing it. I'm the mom who encourages other moms to exchange numbers so we can "get our kids together." I've looked up mommy and me classes, I have Cheerios in my purse, I am all-in on being a mom.
Am I even the least bit apologetic about being a cliche? Heck no! I enjoy being a mom more than anything else in this world. And I see you other moms, outside in the mornings after dropping off the older kids, in your yoga pants and long t-shirts, sipping coffee from a to-go mug and placing it back down into your stroller's cupholder while you softly encourage your toddler not to throw their sippy cup to the ground. I understand the struggle of trying to keep busy, but at the same time, wanting time to just sit down and relax. I understand the exhaustion when you hear your baby chattering on the monitor when they've only been asleep for 30 minutes.
We were our own people before baby, and we will continue to be after.
All of these things can be frustrating as a mom, but beating yourself up over being "too mom" or feeling as if your life only revolves around your child is ridiculous. We were our own people before baby, and we will continue to be after. I don't feel as if I've gotten "lost" in the mommy cliche as much as I just embrace it and go with it. I don't need to be "liberated" from looking like myself.
Because the truth of the matter is, you only get to be a stereotypical mom for so long. After a while, your kids don't need you to wipe their mouths and plan their days and find their friends. At some point, they do all of that themselves. The stroller disappears. The hair is, eventually, done again. And because I have three older children, I know how quickly it all goes.
So for now, yeah, I reliably have a kid-friendly snack in my bag, and look like a mom. I love it.