Six years and nine months ago, I sat in the bathroom in my tiny New York City apartment starring down at the positive pregnancy test in my hand. I called my husband to tell him the news, and we were instantly filled with excitement—overjoyed about the millions of ways our lives were about to change.
During my pregnancy, I thought about the mom I was going to be (as I’m sure every other mama-to-be does). I would be regimented, kind, teach my child miraculous things at a young age, and have him involved in every activity possible. And, of course, he’d only eat organic food. I would make sure to be patient and help my child through problem areas in his life, and never get upset or overreact. I can almost feel the universe laughing in my face as I type this.
The day you bring home your little bundle from the hospital, there is so much more that you immediately need to focus on. You quickly learn that you are the person who is now in total control of everything, yet at the same time, you realize how out of control you actually are. Yes, you ultimately make all of the major decisions to care for this new life, but that tiny baby runs the show!
As those new baby days turned into weeks, months, then eventually years, I’m left looking back on these periods of time and I can very clearly see—and feel—how I’m not the mom I wish I was. I often compare myself to other moms out there, the way that they handle situations, and wish that I could be as calm.
We make choices every day of our lives as parents, some spur of the moment, some not. Either way, there are times that we compare these current day’s decisions to the better choices we thought we would be making. I sometimes wish that I was able to make those better decisions, just the way I had originally planned. I wish I handled temper tantrums better. I wish I made beautiful meals every night (and didn’t feel guilty after feeding my son regular mac and cheese because he hates the organic version). I wish I didn’t get frustrated when my son needs extra help with his reading. I wish I was more creative and constantly planned weekend projects filled with lasting memories. All of this “wishing” stimulates instant mom guilt that I allow myself to suffer in bed at night—like a sickness.
It can be infuriating to know that you had this perfect childhood planned for your offspring, yet not every moment is lining up the way you wanted it to be. Each day doesn’t fall perfectly into place or feel magical, as the guilt festers inside because you feel like you should be doing better. You’re not the mom you thought you would be, and sometimes that hurts.
But, by looking back, I’ve also l learned that every decision I made as a mom has been made with love. Each choice came from a mother knowing that what she chose was the right thing for her child, and that even if it’s not considered to be perfect by the masses—it was right for us.
This piece was originally published in Mommy Nearest Magazine.