I Am Not the Mom I Intended To Be
June 16, 2021
by laura onstot, guest contributor
Long before it was time for children to be in my life, I read an article. You might have read this article too. It is about a mom whose kid spills milk. And rather than getting upset, she gives him options: you can play in the milk, you can lie down in the milk and make snow angels, and when you are done experiencing milk on the floor, we can clean it up together.
This article irked me. Why hadn’t my parents been that patient? I vowed that when I had kids, I would be as patient, loving, and kind as spilled milk mom.
I am here to report, 10 years and two kids later, that I am not that parent. And I was reminded of this last night.
We have a lot of conversations with our kids about how they should not throw things in the kitchen. My main concern is that whatever object is being thrown will end up on top of my pumpkin spice latte candle, light on fire, and take the whole house down.
Yesterday, before I had a chance to remind one of our beautiful children of this rule, I watched, out of the corner of my eye as her cat-unicorn stuffed animal, aptly named “Catty Corn,” was flying in the air, arcing high above the kitchen table.
Time switched to slow motion. Catty Corn aligned over the bowls of tomato soup that I had just set on the table in preparation for dinner.
Brain: “It’s ok, Catty Corn will continue her arc and miss the bowls. This is not as bad as it looks.”
Catty corn fell out of her trajectory and started a downward plummet.
I yelped, a noise more animalistic than human. The physics portion of my brain frantically calculated angles and trajectories against the speed of gravity, 9.8 meters per second squared. It confirmed that indeed, things looked very bad.
Catty Corn cannon-balled into the largest bowl of tomato soup. Homemade, might I add.
It was an impressive scene; tomato soup, everywhere. The floor, the walls, the windows, chairs, table, crevices of booster seat.
I did not offer for said child to play in it before we cleaned it up together. Instead, I hissed, “Do NOT move,” as her toe was millimeters away from red soup splatters.
After extracting her from the landmine she had created, I sent her and her sister away to go play, so I could clean in peace.
You see, it turns out, I am the anti-spilled milk mom.
Maybe if it wasn’t tomato soup, I would have let her play in it. Just kidding. Why would I let my kid play in milk on the floor?
The tomato soup wasn’t the only thing I was reacting to; the tomato soup was the last straw.
It was hearing “Mom” in whiney tones for 7 hours straight prior to this event. It’s the fact that half of the tomato soup was pureed for those who don’t like chunks, and half was chunky, because dinner can never be simple. It’s the fact that no one, aside from me and husband, were going to eat the tomato soup that I had spent an obnoxious amount of time chopping and simmering, and using every pot, pan, and cutting board in the kitchen. It was the fact that after dinner, precisely 2 minutes after the table had been cleared, I would hear the phrase, “Mom, I’m hungry.” Maybe it was best that it was splattered across the kitchen.
If the mom from the milk essay had only endured milk spilling, and that was it, then yeah, we’d all be capable of her response. But what milk mom essay failed to address is that parenthood isn’t one perfect reaction to one tough situation. It is a billion reactions in one day, and only some of them can be near perfect.
So, bravo, milk mom, for doing one thing right. But I, over here, might lose my mind when a unicorn cat cannonballs into a bowl of tomato soup, christening my kitchen into a war zone. We will not make snow angels in tomato soup. But I will snuggle into bed at the end of the day and read library books with the girls. I will laugh at their jokes, and listen to their stories, step on their Legos and pick up their billion Barbie pieces.
Parenthood isn’t one extreme. It is an ebb and flow of reactions and discussions and doling out of snacks.
Milk mom seemed pretty darn perfect. But also, she’s fictional. I on the other hand, am not perfect. But last time I checked, I’m pretty darn real.
The Motherhood Narrative
“I don’t know why this is so hard for me and easier for everyone else.” Hearing her say it out loud helped me recognize it. This is the lie that is so easy for us to believe. Actually, it is more than just one lie; it is a whole narrative. It is the story we are telling ourselves about motherhood.
Releasing Air: You Can’t Keep Them in a Bubble Forever
Parenting is a tough job – the most in-your-face, never-gonna-end job ever. And, frankly, it’s easier to keep our kiddos in the bubble. We can control the bubble. The bubble is safe – physically, and emotionally. But the bubble is sterile. It’s lifeless. It’s life in monotone.