Before I even birthed my first boy, moms had a lot to tell me about how I should do this or that, or not do this or that. Breastfed, bottle fed. Stay-at-home, go back to work. Organic clothing, hand-me downs. Homemade baby food, little jars of smooth sauces. And don’t forget cloth diapering vs. modern conveniences. With as much stuff as we have for babies, there’s even more opinions about what’s the right stuff. And in our cultures obsession with material goods, who we are as moms is too often equated with what we have (or don’t have).
I immediately bristled at being told what to do, but it also made me really insecure. There were too many choices, too many options, and depending on who you talked to, you might make a wrong move and land your child in therapy for life, or give him cancer, or at least, receive the disdain of every mom you encountered.
Basically it felt like their were elite mom clubs, and during one of the hardest transitions life has to offer, mom clubs leave a lot moms out. Alone. Tired. And feeling guilty for their disposable diapered, bottle-fed baby wearing spit-up crusted clothes.
The amount of unsolicited advice I received made me want to hunker down – just me and the little guy – because I wasn’t going to make all the right decisions to fit into any one particular mom mold.
It was a long time before I ever encountered a group of moms doing life together with a lot of grace, coffee, laughs and tears. Maybe it naturally takes some years into parenting for us all to discover that we really don’t know what we’re doing — kids certainly have a knack for humbling their parents — but after a few years of trying my darndest I found myself a lot more comfortable in my imperfect parenting skin (mostly). I admitted my frustrations and failures and found other moms nodding along. Those moms saw me lose my cool with my lollipop eating, holes-in-the-knees-of-his-jeans kiddo. They saw my kids be imperfect; they saw me be imperfect. They saw us practicing apologizing with an alarming frequency.
And somewhere along the way, I discovered that one of the greatest gifts of being a stay-at-home mom was the time and space and necessity of doing messy life alongside other moms. Somehow, I’ve actually come to really like moms, and the truth is, I really admire them all.
I admire the cloth diapering mom who has systems for scrubbing off poop. I admire the coupon-clipping mom who knows how to find the deals she needs to keep putting the disposable diapers on her baby’s bum.
I admire the moms who always have carrots and apples and organic cheese and nuts with them in their purses. Those moms whose kids eat salad without any fuss. I admire the moms who hand their kids whatever’s around and keep everyone smiling.
I admire the mom who rules with strictness that keeps the kiddos in line. I admire the mom who handles things in a more easy-going manner, somehow staying calm even in chaos.
I admire the mom who juggles work and home-life. I admire the mom who stays home with great joy. I admire the many of us who continue to stay home with less than great joy.
I admire the mom who dresses her kiddos like their ready for a fall fashion shoot. I admire the mom who lets the kiddos wear whatever – mismatched in every way.
I admire the mom who breastfeeds for years. I admire the mom who bottle-fed from the beginning.
I admire the mom who homeschools the whole clan. I admire the mom who drops her kids off at school with a grin.
I admire the mom who has Pinterest activities every day. I admire the mom who locks the kids outside and tells them to play.
I admire the mom who is put together – hair, makeup, the works. I admire the mom who lives in sweats and doesn’t sweat it.
And most of all, I admire all the moms who choose to love each other and do life together even when we all do it a little differently.