Planning a wedding? Stressful. Writing a thesis for your master’s degree? Very stressful. Being a parent? Crazy, out of this world, off the charts stressful. From helicopter moms to free range moms, breast or bottle moms, Type A moms to hipster moms, parenting styles may not be in sync, but they do have one thing in common. Stress. So what’s causing all of this mom stress?
Here’s an idea. Let's take two complete strangers (whose only thing in common is that their kids are the same age) make them hang out and endure awkward small talk while they watch their kids play and silently countdown the seconds until it’s acceptable to figure out a reason to leave. Pair that with the fact that you have no clue if the kids are going to be singing Kumbaya or duking it out Hunger Games style. That’s just a recipe for stress. A Stressicpe! Yeah, I went there.
Feeding Your Kids
At a minimum you are responsible for your kids' three basic needs: food, shelter and clothing. The stress begins the first few hours after you pop out your kid. Will she latch?! Is he getting enough? Then they start experimenting with pureed food that they either love, throw at you or respond with a face that looks like you just gave them a bowl of dog poop. Then bring on the solid “people” food where you spend half the mealtime cutting food into tiny pieces and the other half worrying that your kid will choke on those tiny pieces. Next, comes the wonderful phase when they can totally feed themselves but deem everything “icky.” Followed by the phase where they’ll only eat three things. And there’s that phase when they won’t STOP eating and you can’t keep up. Of course, there will probably be some phase where they decide to be a vegetarian, a pescatarian, a freaking cereal-etarian. Spoiler alert, when it comes to feeding your kids, there will always be a phase. And it will never be fun.
I blame Pinterest for this one. Back in the day, it was simple. A costume and a pumpkin for Halloween. A tree and some red and green decorations for Christmas. Candy and a couple of hidden eggs for Easter. Not overly challenging, holiday prep was no biggie. But now, God help us, it’s like each and EVERY holiday takes two weeks of planning, $452 of craft supplies and a whole lot of magic (aka countless extra tasks for moms). Super elaborate Elf on the Shelf tableaus, amazingly intricate, practically professionally constructed Valentine's mailboxes, Leprechaun traps for St. Patrick’s day?! Seriously, where does it end?
Remember when you were pregnant and you signed up for every single weekly pregnancy update email you could find? Yeah, me too. Then you have your baby and never unsubscribe and still receive 30 weekly updates with headlines like “7 things your baby MUST be doing by 12 months.” Then you click on the link and then freak out that your child has their own development timeline and isn’t deemed “on track.” Stresssssful. Look, I get it, it is important to make sure your child is hitting certain developmental goals and getting them the proper help if they need it. But, come on, how about a little wiggle room on these mandatory “milestones.”
Bedtime is one of those things that looks so nice in the movies. Wrapping a happy, freshly bathed child in a fluffy towel, snuggling up and reading their favorite fairy tale and finally kissing them on the forehead while they gently drift to sleep with a smile on their face. Sometimes (in movies) the bedtime routine is so truly magical that parents need to tip-toe into their sleeping child’s room just to get one more look. And that’s exactly how bedtime happens...in the universe where money grows on trees, pigs fly and an all-carbs all-the-time diet exists. Here on earth, not so much. In reality, bathtime involves 18 “required” bath toys and soaking wet floors. Story time takes approximately 90 minutes, seven books and a zillion questions. And going into my kid’s room once I FINALLY get them to sleep? I would rather walk on hot coals while juggling and listening to "the song that never ends" on repeat.
Being a “Good” Mom
So here’s a fun topic. I need to take a deep breath, sip some wine and clip on my Buzzies before I even get started on this one. It used to be simple to be considered a good mom. If you loved your kids and took care of their basic needs, you were deemed a good mom. These days it’s not so simple. Soooo much is expected of modern day moms that the qualities that made you a good mom 50 years ago are considered just the bare minimum in our society. Sure you love, feed and bathe your kids, BUT...have you started teaching them French? Did you triple check and make sure that their lunch is all natural, non-GMO, organic, and perfectly well rounded? Have you become a childhood sleep expert to ensure you selected the correct bedtime? Are the toys your kid is playing with appropriate for their blood type and zodiac sign?? The standards that society and we as moms hold ourselves to is INSANE. Some nights I keep myself up with thoughts of motherhood mediocrity whirling through my brain. Enough is enough. Being a “good” mom is easy. Just love your kids with everything you have and there you have it, you’re a good mom.
What’s that word that means a spotlessly clean house that kids live in? Oh yeah, there is no word for it because it’s not something that exists. It’s not like my house is never clean. It is, for about 48 seconds until it begins the descent towards crumb, clutter and chaos again. Here’s the thing, trying to keep your house spic and span when you have little kids is like standing in the middle of a thunderstorm and trying not to get wet. Not happening. Do what you can to make sure your house doesn’t look like it should be on an episode of Hoarders, but realize that until your kids are out of the house, crumbs are inevitable, laundry will be piled up and don’t be surprised if you find tiny plastic toys hidden between your sheets.
Screwing Your Kid Up
Magazines aren’t the only thing that’s got a lot of issues. Parents got ‘em too! Try as you may to avoid it, there will be countless times that you worry that your own issues are going to screw up your kids. You can spend your life stressing that your issues and not so great decisions will have some detrimental lifelong effect on your child. Guess what? They probably will. But you know what else will have a lifelong effect on your kid? All the good things you do, all the positive traits they inherited and the amazing gems of parental wisdom that you will pass along. So just chill, it will all even out.
Stress has pretty much become synonymous with motherhood. There’s really no way around it, but there are ways to cope. Have that glass of wine, do the 90-minute yoga class, grab your Buzzies or even marathon three seasons of that Netflix show you’ve been dying to see. Just try to take a second to breathe and remember, you’re NOT the only one who sometimes wonders if you’re too old to run away.