I have no shame in saying I’m my own person. I’m not one to conform to fit in. I’m not one to stray away from what I like just because other people might not get it. I’m not afraid to meet new people, but I am afraid I’ll never quite fit in. All of these things also apply to me as a mom, and with it comes a weird jumble of thoughts I stress about almost daily. Nonexistent scenarios that may or may not happen in the future that make me question every decision I’ve ever made for my son, and all because I feel like I’m not what a “typical mom” should be.
Here’s an example: My little dude played T-ball for the first time last Fall. He loved it, and I was glad to get him some fun time with other kids his age since he’s normally home with me. But from the first practice, I could *feel* the judge-y eyes on me. Why? Could it be that I wore flannel instead of chic workout apparel? Could it be that my tank had a Fox Racing logo on it and not a monogram? I think it was all those things, combined with the fact that the state I’m living in, the life I’ve chosen, and who I am as a person will always make me look like an ugly duckling in a pond full of mom swans. Or at least that’s how I feel.
I wish I could be a Pinterest Mom. I really, truly do. All of those preciously creative decor, food, and favor ideas are surely enviable by every other person at the party, except by who the party is for, who is a small child and could care less if you tied handkerchiefs to string to make a rustic carnival banner for your living room. My kid is happy with pizza, presents, and cake, so why not keep it as simple as that? Maybe I decorate some cookies with skulls & bones because he loves pirates, and I’d consider that a huge victory. I’m just not built to put on a beautiful display of perfect motherhood, with a perfectly kept house and perfectly effortless ‘I just came from the gym’ look, and a perfectly clean car that doesn’t look like it lives at my husband’s messy job sites. Even if I put in enough effort to look like a functioning human, I still feel like an oddball. My style is different. My speech is different. Who I am in my soul is different. I blame it on moving to the bible belt, but I’d probably feel this way anywhere.
And then there is the mistake of thinking too much about the future. Financial thoughts make me most anxious. The thought of always having plenty of money for anything my son could want or need at a moment’s notice fills me with fear. We’re not slumming it, but we’re not riding a wave of financial freedom, either. Not by a long shot. I have big dreams for my smart little prince, but can I keep up? Universe, if you’re listening, we got this. But whew, even writing this has me nervous. I’m a stay at home mom not just because it’s what is best for our family, but because the cost of daycare is OUTRAGEOUS to me. Absolutely OUTRAGEOUS! To all of you who make it work for you, I am filled with applause for you. But honestly, if I were to start working, my check would literally be sucked up by childcare every single week. Might that change when little dude starts school? I’d never say never, but I think for any mom at my age and in this stage in their family’s life, money is a CONSTANT anxiety trigger. It feels like we’re all stuck on some kind of hamster wheel. ‘Real Adult’ things like a retirement plan or real life savings? I mark those thoughts with a big ol’ “?”. For now, I’ll pat myself on the back that the bills are paid, there’s food in the cabinet, and my kid wants for nothing (at least through his eyes).
The saddest part of all of this is that at my age, it feels like all of this should be figured out, or even nonexistent, by now. Our real, actually *somewhat* attainable goal is buying what we feel is a real home, but it feels like we’re so far beyond. I take solace in knowing we all figure it out eventually and everyone grows at their own pace, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get down on myself. I see moms younger than me with a full blown ‘real life’ going on and I feel like a failure, or a struggling child. Or I see women my age who do so much more than me with elegant ease, and feel both a sense of rebellion and envy. But as a mother, and a loving, real mother at that, I know deep in my soul that everything will work out as long as I love my child and my family with all I have and keep striving everyday to figure it out, no matter how murky the water I’m barely treading in may be. When my child reaches for my hand, I instantly feel like I can do no wrong; that I can overcome any monster. I will reach shore. The wind will stay in my sails. I will ride these waves of life.