I was late to Max’s birthday party. Like, really late. It remains a mystery how I came to be almost 2 hours overdue to a 2-hour-long event, but my daughter and I waltzed into My Gym just as the last piece of cake was being distributed. I shrugged and smiled my “So-hard-to-get-out-of-the-house-with-two-kids” grin. Max’s mom shot me an “I-just-paid-$20-for-your-kid-to-not-show-up” look. My daughter whined about how there was no cake left. I was stared down by 12 other parents who were able to mobilize in time for the party.
This had to stop. Squeezing out a rugrat or twelve does not entitle anyone, myself included, to partake in terrible behavior.
This is what I am no longer going to blame on motherhood:
1. Letting my home rot.
“How many cats do you have?” asked my friend, visiting my apartment for the first time.
“Um, no reason.” My friend plucked a tuft of hair off the bottom of her foot and looked around. “You know your couch smells like a frat house Port-o-Potty, right?”
The last thing any mother wants to think about is cleaning house, especially since kids will destroy all your hard work in a matter of seconds. But my friend’s visit was a gross reminder that a cursory housekeeping regimen was needed for my kids’ health and safety. That means emptying my sink (so bugs don’t lay eggs on my dirty dishes), vacuuming the carpet (so my crawler doesn’t snack on forgotten ornament hooks or stray thumbtacks), and finally steam-cleaning the buckets of urine off my couch.
2. Ignoring my friends.
What? I totally said “Happy birthday” to your Facebook wall. That counts. I know we’ve been friends for 25 years, but my kid had soccer practice until 6 pm, then the baby wouldn’t stop crying, and I had to do laundry before I put them to bed. I know I didn’t go to your birthday party, but with two kids under four years old, I haven’t set foot outside my home for anything less than a coronation.
Friends have life events. They run marathons, lose their job, graduate from law school, host dinner parties for their cats. Some might even have babies. Just because our life events differ, doesn’t mean we can’t remain a part of each other’s lives.
So put me down as “attending (+3 guests)” to your next cat dinner party.
3. Neglecting myself
Kids come first. Always. Their needs, their schedule, their hygiene. As a result, I sometimes go long stretches without brushing my teeth, spend my entire shopping budget in Carters, and haven’t had a pedicure since my third trimester. My DVR is filled with Peppa Pig episodes, the fridge is jammed with chicken nuggets shaped like Disney characters, and my personal library has been replaced with books featuring a jammy-clad llama.
It’s easy to blame motherhood for a lost sense of self. But my children are starting to notice when I wear the same sweatshirt a week running, or Febreeze my hair in lieu of a shower. Something’s got to give. For starters, I can allow myself a 15-minute shower, a 30-minute television program or gym workout, a 10-minute “stare into space and do nothing” moment. All this time adds up to less than an hour a day. I won’t lose my Motherhood Membership Card over a bit of self-care, and the lady next to me on the bus will thank me.
4. Being super-late to everything.
Everyone knows it takes forever to mobilize a bunch of children and actually leave the house. So many moving parts, things to remember, wild cards that delay the best-laid plans. But knowing that it can take hours, and actually giving myself hours before departure, are two different stories.
I am familiar with the last-minute-outfit-switcheroos, the putting-on-a-coat tantrums, and the Mysterious Disappearing Car Keys. But I don’t want my family to miss out on things, or waste people’s time, just because I’m continuously caught off-guard by just-strapped-into-carseat diaper blasts.
5. Judging other mothers.
Now that I have a few weeks/months/years of motherhood under my belt, it’s nice to finally feel like an expert. Breastfeed for a year. Put baby to sleep on his back. Avoid television. Ok, maybe just avoid certain television. I would never let my… I can’t believe she… definitely don’t ever…
Being a mother does not mean I know everything about everything (or anything about anything).
Nobody parents in a bubble (not that I’m judging if you do…). There are so many factors that go into every decision we make for our kids. I will never be like those judgey parents and… oops, now I’m judging parents who judge. Sorry!
I blame motherhood.