We know that kids can be draining. But have you ever noticed that you’re a completely different parent by the afternoon? Sometimes it feels like I wake with so much energy—equipped with organized plans and optimism—but by the end of the day, I’m barely hanging on. I always aim to do the best by my child, but my parenting standards seem to sway after lunch. Something about 2 p.m. changes the mommy within.
Morning Mom: Plans all the ways she will enrich her child today. Sensory station? Go to the Arboretum for a self-guided nature tour? Volunteer at a local food bank? Baby yoga? Oh! Perhaps, an international tour of culinary delicacies with accompanying fun facts about those countries. So enriching!
Afternoon Mom: Does enriched cereal count?
Morning Mom: So understanding and patient while her child whines, cries, and claws at her during a diaper change. He’s expressing how vulnerable he feels when he’s placed on his back. This is a beautiful expression of human emotion, and since he lacks words, this is what he must do. Yes, sweetheart, Mommy understands. You are frustrated but know that you are safe. All is well. Mommy is just changing your diaper. Mommy loves you. That’s OK, sweetie, I didn’t like that cornea anyway.
Afternoon Mom: Let me take a peek. Yeah, the line’s all blue, but you smell fine. Keep chewing on the lamp cord. Mommy is just checking the oven clock to see if she can drink yet.
Morning Mom: Keeps herself and baby on a regimented schedule. She’s down for her nap. I’ll neaten up the toys, wash the bottles, shower, and then prep the ingredients for the homemade baby food. If she’s still sleeping, I can start roasting the tomatoes for the pasta sauce and squeeze in a seven-minute workout!
Afternoon Mom: Sits at the edge of her bed staring at the monitor as feathers are ripped from the Etsy nursery decor—’cause, you know, she’s a peaceful boho princess and shit. Yanks at her hair while whisper shouting, “Go the fuck to sleep!”
Morning Mom: Follows the old adage, “When you look good, you feel good.” She throws her hair up into an intentionally messy top bun aka mommy updo and even manages to sweep on some foundation, apply lip gloss, and curl her lashes. Work it, girl! You got this all figured out. She manages to semi-coordinate her standard uniform of athleisure wear with a cute bracelet. As she slides on her leggings, they prove a bit resistant at the inner-thigh but no match for her mama grip. Not today, Satan! How the hell does anyone have a thigh gap? How is that even a thing? Whatever, she’s rocking new teething jewelry, so those thigh-gap girls can suck it.
Afternoon Mom: Her top bun has sagged into a mid-bun at lunch and then around 3 p.m. became a…bun (?) at the nape of her neck. She has a baby’s sticky hand skidding down her right cheek while the other hand is practicing its pincer grasp…on her nipple. There are crushed Cheerios sticking to the bottoms of her feet as she heads into the nursery for another diaper change. In between the kicking and scratching, she manages to glide some of baby’s organic butt balm onto her chapped lips. Her phone starts ringing. It’s Grandma, she wants to FaceTime. She answers while picking baby up from the changing table. “What happened?” Grandma asks. I put foundation on this morning.
Morning Mom: Obsesses over her Wonder Weeks app and plans the day’s activities according to the milestones he hasn’t hit yet. Simultaneously, she sends an email to her husband: “Honey, he’s not pointing or waving yet. I think we really need to talk to the Pedi. It’s not that he’s behind, but he’s not ahead either. Below are a few articles on ways to encourage waving and pointing.” The flood of worry bounces around in her head while she communicates with baby like a psychotic mime for the next hour.
Afternoon Mom: Just needs to get the eff out of the house for a walk. They run into that stuck-up girl from high school who acts surprised to see her. Baby fails to return her super fake, overly exuberant wave. Good job, kid. Mommy never liked that bitch anyway.
We love our kids and always want to do the best for them. The mornings are full of possibility for the day, but between diaper changes, feedings, bottle washing, baby food making, and the like, it’s hard to cram in much else. By the afternoon, like a werewolf, I change into Afternoon Mom—the less smiley, less attractive, less motivated version of my morning persona. Perhaps, a new genre of childcare is in order: Afternoon Moms—fully rested versions of you by 2. I might consider it.