Letting Us Be Us

By Kate Kole

As I’m sitting on the living room rug with my son building blocks, my mind starts running through its regular list of questions. Have we read enough books today? Does he get the socialization he needs? How many servings of fruit has he had? Vegetables? Dairy? What am I missing that I don’t even know I’m missing?

It’s not unlike the list I work through when I’m racing through the checklist of my own life. Am I setting a good example for him? Should I be working out of the house? Do I bring enough to our family? Am I doing it as well as she (mom on Instagram, mom at the grocery story, mom at the park, mom I’ve never met, and mom who is my best friend) is doing it?

I look again at my little boy, happily building and destroying everything in his path. After a quick surge of guilt for not speaking to him while lost in my own thoughts (maybe that’s why he isn’t saying many words yet?), the settling comes. I see his smile and the way his eyes light up as he gets an idea for what he can do next. He reaches for my hand and guides me to his playpen, pointing to his vacuum. “This?” I ask. “Uh, yeah,” he responds excitedly.

We’re good.

There’s a familiar, nagging pressure I often feel to do everything right. It’s similar to the one I felt in college, aiming to make the Dean’s List and in yoga classes, to land every pose perfectly. Except, this time, it feels like the stakes are higher, so the goal is greater. 

Who is Supermom and how do I become her? Does she wake up before the sun to read the Bible? Is she shopping at Whole Foods and buying exclusively organic foods? How many play dates a week does she schedule? Is she juggling more or less than what’s on my plate right now?

And yet, none of those questions or their subsequent answers seems to hold the wisdom that I’m searching for. They’re like a piece of clothing that looks great on the rack but feels itchy and uncomfortable as soon as it meets my body. Maybe I’m making this more complicated than it needs to be. Maybe I just need to be me. To figure it out as I go. To keep trying things on until they feel like they fit our family.

It’s so easy and tempting to look around when things feel new and uncertain, but what if I looked inside instead? What if I just let her (the Instagram/Target/MyGym Mom) be her and let me be me? 

I’m the mom who loves putting on Lizzo and dancing before bedtime. My kid and I wear sweatpants, almost exclusively. The recycling bin counts as a toy. Some days, we don’t leave the house. He still uses soothies. We sing the Llama Llama theme song approximately 138 times a morning, I lie next to his crib until he’s napping, and every once in a while, (like 3 nights a week) we eat waffles for dinner.

We’re us and it works, I think, as he enthusiastically “vacuums” the floor.

Featured image via Pexels