We have all done it—second-guessed ourselves. Our innate parenting ability is only as good as the next mom. And we give her the side-eye, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, noting her clothing, her demeanor, her stroller, her physique, and even her snacks. Over the past 15 years, ever since my oldest son came hurling from my cooter almost six weeks early, I have second-guessed the mother I am more times than I can count. And I have tried on the shoes of many of the other types of moms I have seen.
We all know one—the woman in her Lululemon yoga pants and cute halter sports bra/top. Her hair is expertly tousled to appear effortless, though it probably took an hour of coaxing and teasing to achieve the look. These moms achieved their pre-baby bodies like five minutes after delivering and make mothering look as easy as getting their bodies back after pregnancy.
I tried this for about three hours once. I achieved the hairstyle pretty easily (surprisingly). Next step: yoga pants. Lululemon was certainly out of my price range. You know what was in my price range? Hanes Sweats. Hanes Sweats were in my price range. And even if they didn’t fit my ass just right, they did fit the bill perfectly. Never mind that the Hanes Sweats had been worn as pajama bottoms for an indeterminate amount of time prior to my attempt at being sporty mom. The result? I appeared slightly homeless and my pants smelled like cheese made from dog milk. But my hair looked Ah. May. Zing.
This is the woman who bans chemicals from everything. She washes her hair with baking soda and conditions with vinegar. She makes baby food from scratch, and uses only cloth diapers. She is the woman who banishes artificial anything from her kids’ diets while maintaining that once she eliminated gluten from her own diet, she lost like 83 pounds in 22 hours.
The baking soda made my hair feel like straw covered in Vaseline. I tried hand-washing a shit-filled diaper bomb one time, and the idea of [willingly] sticking my hands into my kid’s shit was as appealing to me as sticking it into a nest of angry hornets. Making my own baby food was a pain in the ass, and my kitchen looked as though it needed to be hosed down with good old-fashioned bleach as opposed to chemical-free odor-free (let’s just call these cleaners what they really are: water) cleaner. And it turns out my body wouldn’t know what to do if I eliminated the cheese Danish food group, so eliminating gluten was certainly out of the question.
Chic Bob Moms
This is the woman who is perfectly put together at all times. Her hair is cut into a beautiful, artfully chic bob with the perfect amount of highlights and lowlights. Her nails are impeccably manicured every week without fail, and her children are always perfectly coiffed replicas of her with matching outfits and not a speck of dirt or disarray. She arrives everywhere on time and spends her days driving to piano lessons, tae kwon do, ballet, math tutors, and finds the time to squeeze in all her errands, volunteer in the classroom, and the gym in between.
Thinking I could be Chic Bob Mom was probably my biggest mistake. See, chopping off my hair to emulate this mom’s look just created a football helmet with dark roots. My impeccably manicured nails got covered in baby shit (see hand-washing shitty diaper above), with one little speck of crap jammed underneath in a place I couldn’t scrape it out. No amount of cajoling will convince my children to stay neatly dressed, and the result was that they looked slightly homeless as we arrived everywhere at a screeching halt 15 minutes late. Oh, Chic Bob Mom, how do you do it?
The Sensitive Nurturing Moms
This one is definitely an anomaly. I REALLY wanted to be this mom. When I was pregnant with my first child, this was the type of mom I saw myself being. She is the one who understands her child’s needs and meets them with very little effort and no prompting from her kids. She is so in tune with the needs of her children and their emotional well-being that she intuits their pain. This is the mom who bakes the perfect homemade chocolate chip cookie. She has the patience of Job and never raises her voice to her children. She kisses boo-boos and tells the best bedtime stories.
I can certainly bake a mean chocolate chip cookie, but most often it comes from the freezer section of the grocery store. After five seconds of whining over my kid wanting the blue cup instead of the yellow one, my patience is nearly gone. A few more seconds of bickering with her brothers has me screaming like a banshee. If I could intuit what the hell the little asshole whining about, I wouldn’t be standing in the kitchen in front of the open cabinet filled with cups and trying to guess which one would get her to shut the hell up. Kissing boo-boos is replaced with, “stop crying, there’s NOTHING there!”, and bedtime stories are retelling the plot of Chowder.
I realize there are a lot of other types of moms out there. There are as many “types” of moms as there are grains of sand on the earth. And I have tried to be every one of them in an attempt to be the perfect mother. What I have discovered is the perfect mother is the one that does her best to meet her kids’ unique needs. The mom who loves her kids more than anything and who is there for her kids is the perfect mom. The kind of mom who can adapt to whatever is thrown her way because That’s Just Life. What type of mom am I? I’m more a mix of all the above moms. Well, all of them except Sporty Mom. Sporty Mom can suck it.