If you are anything like me, there may be a stereotypical type of “mom” that you wish you were like. Maybe it’s a friend who seems to always have it together. Maybe it’s a co-worker who somehow juggles motherhood and a career with ease, or a mom in your child’s playgroup who is always on time and has the most polite children you’ve ever seen. For me, “that mom” is one I used to see when I worked during summer camp at the YMCA. She was the mom who came in effortlessly with three little ones, dropped them off at the childcare area, and then went and worked out for hours. After, every day, she took her babies swimming and enjoyed the rest of the morning soaking up the sun while watching them splash in the baby pool.
I used to see her and think with cool confidence: “I’ll be that mom.” Of course, this was before I had children, or was even married.
Now that I am an adult, with my own babies and a husband, my reality is not even close to “that mom”.
I am a full-time teacher. I have two energetic little boys. I have a husband who works long hours, and by the time our babies are fed, bathed, and down for the night (at least the first round) my level of exhaustion is quite high. I tend to fall asleep late, contemplating how many cups of caffeinated bliss I will need to power through the next day. It’s quite a far cry from the idea of “that mom” I had created in my mind.
When I’ve thought about how much I seem to be struggling with this whole motherhood thing, I’ve remembered her. I’ve remembered how effortlessly she seemed to manage her day. So often I feel like I am juggling 12 balls in the air at once, and at least half of them are falling to the ground. It’s a definite reminder that I am not quite who I had hoped to be at this stage in my life. Lately, though, my thoughts have shifted to what her reality may have been. In retrospect, I have absolutely no idea the challenges “that mom” faced. I am sure that her life wasn’t as perfect as I assumed from that small snapshot of her day I witnessed. I don’t think anyone’s life is perfect- or even close, regardless of how it looks through the smoke screen of our Instagram accounts or how put together our children appear in public.
Comparison is the thief of joy, and for a long while now I have allowed not being “that mom” to steal joy from me. Until frankly, I didn’t want it to anymore. I worked on shifting my thinking to “how do I get to where I want to be?” I had to embrace the fact that I am not exactly like anyone else. My story is different from every other mom because it’s mine. I am not the mom from the Y, but I don’t really want to be. I want to be the best version of me.
I thought deeply about one thing I really would like to do. The answer came to me instantly: run. I have always wanted to be someone who could put on their running shoes and let the stress of the day fade away (with Britney blaring in the background, obviously). However, I’ve never made it a priority. I am constantly putting off what I want for the sake of everyone else, and while there’s no shame in that, it won’t help me become the woman and mom I long to be.
The reality is, we can’t be “that mom” because we have the gift of being exactly who we are. However, we do have the ability to work toward becoming a better version of ourselves. If you have a longing to improve in an area of your life, go for it. Hone in on something that is manageable, and take a leap of faith. For me, I needed to step outside of my comfort zone, so, on a whim with friends, I signed up for the Drumstick Dash. It may seem insignificant to some, but to this girl who has never really pushed herself, it’s a good place to start. I am very much looking forward to creating my own version of “that mom” and letting go of the desire to be like anyone else.