The current media narrative for moms falls into two categories: You’re either a helicopter parent or you’re a neglectful parent. But my experience as part of a community of mothers has shown me that moms are far more often going the extra mile for their kids in a million unseen ways. Sometimes that extra mile is uncomfortable, difficult, embarrassing or even downright crazy. But we do it anyway, because we’re moms. My poll of a couple moms’ groups reveals the most absurd, ridiculous—and sometimes heroic—things that mothers will do for their babies.
1. You will tear all the “plain pasta” bits off tortellini, an entire plateful, so that your child will eat something for dinner.
2. You will sit on the toilet seat to warm it up for your 3-year-old daughter, who is complaining that the potty is too cold.
3. When your colicky baby finally falls asleep, you will be so crazed and desperate for him to stay asleep that you’ll call the nearby airport and ask them to reroute the flights for a couple hours so that your exhausted baby can get the shut-eye he needs.
4. You will taste your own booger, because your son swore it was delicious and would not rest until you had tried one too.
5. You will hoard two cookies for your children to have after Sunday school (because all hell will break loose if you don’t) and watch impassively as a child in front of you has a meltdown that there are no cookies left.
6. At 3 a.m., you will stand topless in the kitchen dangling your raw nipples into shot glasses of salt water while rocking the cradle with your foot.
7. You, who have a newborn and a grueling Washington-New York commute, will pump in the Amtrak bathroom two times a week, twice a day, for nine months.
8. You will suck snot off a child’s nose and catch her vomit in your bare hands.
9. You will painstakingly construct the perfect kale chip: Three drops of olive oil, one crystal of sea salt, not a stem or vein to be found, in the hopes of getting them to eat some vegetables.
10. You will spend the first weeks or months of your baby’s life in a grueling regimen of pumping and syringe-feeding, with your own rest and recovery a distant second priority.
11. You, who will clobber anyone who gets between you and your morning coffee, will let your toddler play with your (lockable) travel mug of coffee first thing in the morning, rather than snatching it away from him and guzzling the coffee. You will even buy a decoy travel mug of water that you let him “steal” while you hide the real one in the pillows.
12. You will let her eat the first tomato from the garden and pretty much almost all of them after that, even though you love tomatoes more than life itself.
13. You will hold in so many poos.
14. You will give him the last bite of dessert.
15. You will spend a heat wave driving around, for two naps a day, camped in the car, trying to find cool, breezy and quiet locations. You will listen to the same two lullabies on a loop, moving the car every 30 minutes so the baby could have motion and air conditioning, because there’s no AC at home.
16. In a car going 60 mph down the highway, you will hunch in the backseat over one kid to nurse him while you scrape goldfish crackers out of the seat for the other kid who’s just dumped his snack trap everywhere and is now sobbing that he’s hungry.
17. To soothe your toddler, who is afraid of mannequins, you will walk though a department store tickling the tummies of the dummies.
Am I right? The takeaway here is: Whenever we feel like we’re failing as moms, just look back on all the nutty things we did to care for them. Did we look ridiculous or selfish or plain nuts? Yes, but we’d do it again. Now, excuse me while I make a batch of kale chips.