When I talk to my mom about how stressful mothering is, she smiles and says something about how things were easier in her day. Social media and modern technology make life easier and better – hello, Netflix – but they also make life more complicated and crowded. There’s so much…well, stuff. I’m a good mom. My kids are reasonably happy, reasonably clean. They’re well-fed, provided we can all agree a steady diet of string cheese, grapes, and Ramen are sufficient to sustain junior humans. Most people think I’m a reasonably responsible adult, who (mostly) has her shit together. But I’m not good at modern mothering. I’m not good at doing all the Pinterest things people who throw out phrases like “life hacks” and “mindful parenting” say I’m supposed to be good at doing. I’m okay with the basics, but I stink at the extras.
1 | Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a thing, if you didn’t know. Mindfulness means being present in the moment, making space in your life for “just being,” and taking pause when you notice stress and imbalance in your life, blah blah blah. Um. As a mom, I understand the importance of being present in the moment. It matters zilch that I’m frazzled, trying to fix dinner, check homework, and finish that Amazon Prime order for the stuff that we absolutely must have delivered by Tuesday when my kid wants to talk about why butterflies don’t have eyebrows. I’m supposed to stop and take a deep, cleansing breath, right?I’m supposed to eliminate all distractions, sit on the floor with him (that whole ‘get down on their level’ thing) and have a moment about butterfly eyebrows. I must listen attentively without letting my mind wander to burned dinner or the fact that our home life will implode if our gluten-free pretzels and three-pack of organic cotton superhero tee shirts don’t arrive on our doorstep by Tuesday. I understand the appeal of being present and focused. I get that they’re only little once and that giving them undivided attention is important. I still call B.S. on mindful parenting. There are times when I just can’t be present in the moment. There are times when I don’t want to be present in the moment (like moments that anything having to do with cleaning pee or vomit) and the best-case scenario is just powering through the moment. I live in a perpetual state of imbalance, and 99 percent of the time “taking a pause” just won’t fly.
But you know what? My kids get plenty of “the moment.” We have cuddle time in the early mornings (a.k.a. what the fresh hell is this child doing in my bed again, but let’s be real, that’s what we have). When I pick them up from school, I turn off my talk radio and we talk about our day. I ask open-ended questions, and the answers give me a sweet window into what their time spent apart from me looks like. It’s seriously the best part of my day.
2 | Meal planning
I own a meal planner. I’m not sure exactly where it is right now, but I have one. I have a “My Shopping List” notepad embossed with cutesy-poo orange and teal owls. I have six Pinterest boards with meal ideas that aren’t chicken nuggets. I have a chalk board in my kitchen with “Menu” scribbled across the top. And I can’t menu plan for shit.I’m good for a week…sometimes, two. I peruse recipes, make lists. I chop, I prep. I produce beautifully plated, nutritious meals. Then life happens. The unexpected errand. The “I’m so effing tired I can’t even, and I need to call the pizza delivery guy” day. I topple off the meal planning wagon and decide I’m okay with blankly staring into my fridge every evening and serving way too many chicken nuggets. But you know what? No matter what I serve at dinner time, we generally eat as a family. We might be sitting down to boxed macaroni, but damn it, we’re sitting down and talking.
3 | Having a mom tribe
I don’t have a mom tribe. I have acquaintances I can ask “What’s the best way to get rid of butt rash?” without feeling completely awkward. The other moms from my kids’ classrooms don’t throw shade my way or forget my name. I even have friends. But a bona fide mom posse who knows every dirty detail about my life, from my kids’ medical issues to how often I really wash my hair? No. I’m probably in a lot of outer circles, but I don’t crave that tribe vibe closeness with other moms. And I’m good with that. And, my kids are doing just fine.
4 | Party planning
If I could find a way to not have birthday parties for my kids, I would. Every year, I say this will be the year we don’t do parties. Then I turn into spineless mush when my kids broach the subject. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a total birthday humbug. I like cake and ice cream (duh), singing, and watching my kids open presents. What I’m not down with is this whole theme thing that’s become so popular. See also: any event that requires competitive decorating. Staying up past midnight to make sure the pineapple goody bags are just so for my child’s mini luau? Paying a gazillion dollars for a custom cake that looks great in pictures that no one eats? Pass. I’m the lazy mom that has my kid’s party at a place that serves crappy pizza where we’re all entertained by a giant, creepy mouse band. Judge away.So, I suck at mindfulness, meal planning, and lots of other things moms are supposed to be good at. I’ll never be the mom who decorates pudding cups with washi tape. My kids eat too much boxed mac and cheese. They probably didn’t have a bath last night. You won’t leave one of our birthday parties using words like epic. The things I suck at are list-worthy, but my kids are good humans. They’re kind. They’re sensitive and caring. I know life outside their suburban bubble looks different and, if I have anything to do with it, their worldview will evolve as they evolve.
Am I winning at modern mothering? Probably not. But I do know this: I’m a damn good mom raising damn good kids.