Thursday, July 18, 2013

What kind of mother?

"What kind of mother..."
Ever hear that phrase? Ever thought it? Ever said it?
It's often muttered quietly about a mom out shopping with ragamuffin kids. Or communicated through sideways glances between moms feeling superior to another in their group.

But I find it's most often said inside my own head...about myself. I witness my own choices and actions, and judge myself. Harshly.  

What kind of mother allows her not-yet-two year old watch tv every morning before "school"?
What kind of mother leaves the baby in the swing while she fusses?
What kind of mother lets her daughter wear a pink bow everyday, even when it clashes with her her outfit?
What kind of mother hits up the Wendy's drive-through for a bacon cheeseburger at 10:30 AM?
What kind of mother dismisses a "minor" spit up, waiting to change the baby's onesie until she has a more serious incident?
What kind of mother buys a stroller that won't fit in the car?
What kind of mother forces "independent play" on her toddler while she showers and puts on makeup?

What kind? A lazy mother? A heartless mother? A disorganized mother? A terrible mother?

The kind of mother who desperately needs 20 minutes to pack lunches and get ready without a little one on her hip.
The kind of mother who doesn't have enough arms, legs, time, or patience to deal with two littles who decide to cry at the same time, and needs to buy herself 5 minutes.
The kind of mother who can't resist a little voice proudly declaring, "I PINK!", even if it means looking like she got dressed in the dark.
The kind of mother who can't resist the cravings spurred on by commercials during The Bachelorette. Oh, and the kind who has a sleeping infant in the backseat and knows if she doesn't take advantage of this window, she may not get to eat again until 3 PM.
The kind of mother who has already changed the baby's outfit four times and knows changing it again prematurely is a waste of everyone's time (and laundry).
The kind of mother who researched strollers for hours on her iPhone while nursing but wasn't able to get to the store to actually try it before arranging a shady craigslist deal.
The kind of mother who is just vain enough to require a swipe of concealer and blow dried bangs before she faces the world.

I doubt myself. Even in the little things. Because lets be honest- no matter how serious you take things like sleeping in a crib vs. a swing, or the amount of television a toddler should be exposed to, they are little things. (Especially the bow color. That's literally teensy.) But that doesn't mean my guilt feels small.

So then what about bigger issues?

What kind of mother gets bored talking to other moms about kid stuff? 

What kind of mother misses her job, even when she's holding her baby?
What kind of mother sends her kid to daycare while she stays home with the baby?
What kind of mother sometimes wishes for these early days to go just a little bit faster?

Now is it a heartless mother? A terrible mother?

I could make a list to justify all of those things too...there are reasons behind it all. I could talk about needing intellectual stimulation, or valuing my older daughter's established routine, or struggling with the newborn phase. I could find words to help you understand and minimize my guilt and shame over not being perfect. Of not measuring up. 

But truly the answer to all of these questions can and should be put much more simply:

What kind of mother?


That's the truth. And I'm learning to embrace that it's not only good enough, it's GOOD

I read something online the other day that spoke to this exact feeling:
"Don’t let yourself be put into a box that you don’t fit into simply because it is labeled “what a mom looks like.” You already are a mom, you are what a mom looks like now."

The author was attempting to be an encouragement to women- telling us we can be more than just moms...but I found even more freedom in her words. There is no perfect version of a mother. No gold standard we should all subscribe to. There is my kind of mother. And your kind. And her kind. And a million more. And they're all good. (And sometimes not so good...but oh so real.)
Because regardless of all the mistakes I make, all the selfish spots I still hold on to, all my quirks and struggles...
I'm also the kind of mother who reads my kids book after book, again and again...and again...
The kind who will sing "Teapot" on requested repeat, even when I'm the only one doing the motions.
The kind who will give up bite after bite of banana in my cereal, to a little girl who ate her own breakfast already but still wants "more, more". 
The kind who smothers my children with kisses. 
The kind who prays for them every night. (ok...every night except when I fall asleep first...)
The kind who kisses skinned knees, makes costumes from scratch, who hides veggies in mac&cheese and doles out praise in heaps. 

The kind who loves my children more than anything in the entire world. More than a job, more than matching bows, more than nutritious lunches...more than perfection. 

I'm that kind of mother. 

Photos from Hot Metal Studio.


  1. Thank you Courtney.
    For being real.
    For being the kind of mother only you can be.
    For saying the words that my heart feels but can't say.
    Thank you from a new mom who's going through it too.

    1. So glad my words could speak to your heart. We're in it together, mama!

  2. I love this!!! :) I feel like this so often, as a new Mom to a new Mom, thank you for writing this.

  3. you got it right at the end - "The kind who loves my children more than anything in the entire world" - I see it all the time in everything you do. Lucky children, and lucky you. You are all blessed beyond measure.

  4. A terrifically awesome kind of mother, that's who. I watched you in action the other day and there is no doubt, none at all, that you are anything but a terrific mom. And the small things that help you keep your sanity? Help continue to allow you to be the super great mom that you are.

    Piper won't remember that she watched t.v. before school, but she will remember the books you read over and over and over. Finley surely won't remember the times she cried in her swing or sat in her spit up for a few extra minutes, but will remember all the love she will surely be raised with.

    Now, have you contacted your publisher yet?

  5. Very well said Courtney! As a grandmother I remember those days. I was always was my worst enemy wondering if I was doing it right. But I totally agree with you, I loved them more than life itself. They were and still are my world! Now I have the honor of being a Nana to my beautiful grandchildren. I get a second chance to love little ones again. God Bless you and your words of wisdom.
    Thank you
    Roxanne aka Nana