Modes of Motherhood
I bounce back and forth between different modes as a mom. There is live-in-the-moment mode, and that one’s my favorite, when I’m glued tightly to the present, breathing in my son’s sugary scent and his endless energy, responding to him right away, instead of in “one minute!” But distracted mode comes into play every time I live mindfully. My son says and does things I never want to forget, so I move into reflective mode, where I must write all of it down.
Yelled, “I luuu yoooo!” for the first time.
Sat in my lap, wrapped chubby arms around me, and farted like a grown man.
But then I get carried away. Simply jotting down this stuff doesn’t feel sufficient because I want to remember exactly how every milestone felt… When he took his first steps, when we dropped him off at daycare, when he sang the ABC’s, etc. Before I know it, I’m in bad-mom mode, where I’m recording the details of my toddler’s life instead of playing with him. He’s on the floor building blocks by himself, his plump pink lips pursed in concentration, the fan blowing tufts of his yellow hair back and forth. I’ve arrived at mom-guilt mode, where I’m certain I do not deserve him.
Before long, he’s down for a nap and I’m wallowing in pitiful mode, after having wasted half of the morning. So this of course leads me to Facebook, where I scroll joylessly through my newsfeed, comparing myself to other moms. They never waste a second; they are way too busy making their kids ants-on-the-log and doing Pinterest crafts together that actually turn out good. Skeptical mode ensues, and I am convinced that these people have nannies. Mean mode takes the stage as I decide those kids probably hated that celery, spitting it onto the dirty, scuffed up floor that was cleverly cropped out of the photo, cackling as they smeared peanut butter in their hair and threw raisins at their mom’s face.
Reasonable mode grabs me by the shoulders and tells me to get a grip. Genuine mode reminds me that I am actually a nice person who can and should be happy for others (and their craftiness). I snap out of the funk when I spy a photo of my boy as an infant, his big round blue eyes beaming, and pretty soon I’m looking at every picture I’ve ever taken of him. A stupefied smile plastered on my face, I spend an absurd amount of time doing this. When I look up from my computer, I’m in beyond-grateful mode. I sneak into the room where my son is lightly snoring and curl myself around him like a spoon, basking in the warmth of his cinnamon bun body.
Scared shitless mode promptly enters the scene, as I remember that he is mortal. “Only the good die young” they say, and I panic, because he’s so good. I kiss him a thousand times on his fluffy head and doughy neck, pretending that with each smooch I plant, I’m building a protective shield that will forever keep him out of harm’s way. The soft rhythm of his breath soothes my own jumpy heart, and I let his heavenly scent take me on a quick trip to dreamland. Eventually he stirs and we wake up together by reading his favorite board books, over and over again, the solid weight of him resting perfectly in my lap. This is and will be the best, most productive part of my day. These are the moments I live for and will look back on longingly, when nothing else exists except us and our books, and the worlds they create, which I get to see anew through my son’s wide eyes. But then we have to go to the grocery store because we’re out of eggs and a dozen other things, so we hurry back into routine mode, where we spend most of our time, riding the same old swing of things. At the store, an older woman approaches us.
“Enjoy this time,” she says, “It’s gone before you know it.”
I smile and inwardly kick myself for not always fully appreciating what is in front of me. Realistic mode leaps in though, assuring me that life can be monotonous, unromantic, and downright hard, and parenthood’s no different, as incredible as it is. I sense insightful mode creeping in as I hang onto this woman’s last sentence: ‘’It’s gone before you know it.” Before you even know it. So of course we can only appreciate most things in life in retrospect. We can barely grasp what’s happening before it’s passing us by.
Why? We’re too busy living in moment, getting distracted, feeling reflective, recording our children’s lives, being “bad” moms, feeling pitiful and mean, getting a grip, feeling guilty, grateful, and scared, being reasonable and realistic, productive when we’re lucky, juggling the tasks of everyday life. Doing the best we can, just like everybody else. Being above all things human through those monumental firsts.
When he took his first steps, when we dropped him off at daycare, when he sang the ABC’s, etc.
Maybe we enjoy each piece of this precious, fleeting time by embracing every mode of motherhood, the imperfection and contradictions. Leaving the store, I feel inspired to finally accept authenticity instead of striving for something I’m almost sure does not exist.
But before heading home, I pick up some celery, peanut butter, and raisins, just in case I should find myself in overambitious mode.
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This post was written by Emily Page Hatch exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.
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