Bringing my Expectations of Myself as a Mother Back Down to Earth One Kid at a Time

From the moment I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I had an idea in my head of what kind of mother I would be. I was fairly certain I would be a pretty amazing one. Now, 12 years and 3 children later, I have discovered that my self-imposed expectations may have been set a bit high. Here are but just a few examples:


Before Kids: “My house will be clean at all times so that my children have a safe, healthy, and clutter-free environment in which to live.”

Now: I try hard to keep my house clean, but those damn kids just mess it up again. I have decided that I can spend my time dusting furniture and washing windows, or I can spend my time playing games of “Epic Four Square” in the driveway making memories with the kids. Memories of me beating their tushies at “Epic Four Square”. (For those who are wondering, “Epic Four Square” is a very competitive, very cut-throat, four square game that the kids and I made up. The rules keep evolving over time, there may or may not be blood involved at any given point, and, for the record, I am currently the reigning champion). So, no, my house isn’t spotless. Not even close. I spend my time playing with my kids. And also playing Words with Friends.


Before Kids: “I will not be one of these moms who lets their kids watch movies all the time in the car. We will talk! Play games! Bond while we drive!”

Now: Why the hell don't SUVs come with dividers between the front and back seats like a limo??? That totally should be a thing. It is less distracting for me to play Candy Crush on my phone and read a newspaper while driving than to try and drive with the 3 ring circus happening in the back seat of the car. A DVD will keep them occupied and quiet most of the time. So now, as I’m backing out of the driveway, before I even clear the garage, I can usually be heard yelling “who wants to watch a movie?!?!”


Before Kids: “I will pack cute little healthy Bento box lunches for my kids every day for school.”

Now: Just kidding. I never expected myself to do that. Cooking is not my thing. Making little octopus shaped carrots and roasted turkey rosettes to pack in biodegradable pouches is not going to happen. Ever. Like, literally, never. My kids eat school lunch unless they are going on a field trip and need a sack lunch. Then they get PB&J and a piece of fruit. Hopefully the fruit isn't brown.


Before Kids: “Eeeek! I can’t wait to dress my kids in darling little outfits and matching accessories from Baby Gap and Gymboree.”

Now: I buy my kids the cheapest clothes I can find because they are just going to ruin them anyway. I swear they leave for school fairly clean in the morning and come home looking like they were in a paint ball battle while sliding in the grass and rolling in a vat of ketchup. Do band-aids count as accessories?  


Okay, so maybe my expectations of how I would be as a mother haven’t exactly matched up with my reality as actually being one. Does that make me a bad mother? I don’t think it does.

I think that experience has taught me what really matters when it comes to my kids. Experience has taught me that there are a limited number of hours in a day and I have to choose how I spend my time with my kids. I will never fashion food into little cute shapes and put them into bento boxes. I will probably never have a perfectly clean house. But, dammit, I am doing the best I can.

And also, I am killing it at “Epic Four Square”.