The number one rule in most situations is don’t compare yourself to others. But as moms, that’s almost impossible not to do, because we now spend a majority of our time with other parents and their kids. I think to myself, “Is she just a better mom than me, or does she have easier kids”?
Of course, I know the answer to this question. All children come with their own set of struggles, and I’m doing the best I can – blah, blah, blah – but still it’s hard because our children can be a reflection of us to the outside world. If our kid is crazy, then surely we must be too, right?
Well, my kids are a little nuts, so I choose not to answer that question. My boys are amazing and I love every part of their fierceness, but some days I find myself telling my son, “You can’t be serious?” as he argues with me about there being too much sand in the sandbox. Everything is difficult, and that’s why I find myself envying moms I never thought I would before I had my children. These are the moms I wouldn’t mind trading places with for one day:
Moms whose kids sit in a shopping cart: For God’s sake, the grocery store is practically handing us a golden ticket when they offer carts that look like race cars. It should be a toddler version of someone letting me drive their Ferrari. But my kids make me want to drive off a cliff as I push that ridiculously enormous contraption through the obstacle course of a store while the little one screams and attempts to bite his way though the straps, and the older one just says fuck it and jumps out.
And here comes another car cruising towards me. Because the damn carts are so huge we have to knock down all the displays to get by and as she passes I can’t help but turn around to watch as her child steers the cart for her with a big smile on his face, only to turn back around to find my cart full of about 50 boxes of Teddy Grams and enough fruits snacks to feed a small army of 5-year-old terrors.
Moms whose kids hold their hand when walking down the street: It was around four and a half when my son decided to go all prison escape on me when we were in the middle of crossing the road. All the sudden his hands were made of wet soap and he was circling me like a rabid wolf. I grabbed him and told him about the dangers and about my rules; he told me he would no longer hold my hand, only my purse. Then only my pants, and the next thing you know, I’m practically dragging him by my shoe.
These are the moments I apologize to the parenting gods for ever judging anyone who put their child on a leash. I want to handcuff our wrists together. Even when he does hold my hand walking, it’s a little sketchy; his arm is in a constant wiggle motion as we pass by the mom and son lovingly walking hand in hand. And as we do, my boy says, “Look mom, they’re being safe,” WTF?
Moms whose kids brush their hair and teeth: Have you ever wondered what it feels like to stick a flaming piece of jagged metal into your mouth? Just ask my kids; apparently they know the answer. It makes no difference what flavor the toothpaste is or what character appears on their toothbrush. In fact, if Superman himself flew into the bathroom and told my son to brush his teeth, he’d probably look for some kryptonite to get rid of him. And I don’t care if it’s a wet brush or a brush made of Twizzlers, they act like I am trying to torture them slowly with my medieval weapons. But I guess I’m partially to blame because I won’t take them to the hair salon again until they start serving alcohol.
Moms whose kids eat food: Other than cheese pizza and toast. I realize that it’s normal for kids to be picky, and I know they have small stomachs, but it’s frustrating. I have followed all the tips, made smoothies, tried to hide the good stuff in some sort of fancy cookie, but it doesn’t work. He analyzes the appearance of everything. It’s as if I’m trying to please the king. He’ll look it over, inspect every side, and then his royal highness will declare, “Nope, it’s not a food.”
I love the suggestion of just making my regular meal and if he won’t eat it then he just won’t eat. He will eventually get hungry, they say. Well, it turns out the kid can outlast Gandhi. It doesn’t work. So on those group outings, when I forget to bring his food, I watch in awe as the other children eat while my son screams that he’s “starving” as the tears flow down onto the plate of food sitting in front of him.
Moms whose kids leave places: Without making other people question whether or not they are being abducted. When it’s time to get back into the car to leave our outings, my children act like I’m tearing them away from Disney World. No matter where we are, chaos ensues when it’s time to go. At this rate, I won’t take them to Disney World until at least their mid-thirties, when they establish just a tinge of self-control. It’s not like they didn’t receive a 20, 10, and 5-minute warning.
You know you have a serious problem when staff members at your location are helping coax your little foxes out of their holes. And I remind them of the conversation we had before leaving. The one where we discussed the rules and how super awesomely they were going to follow them. Liars. I often wonder why I left the house in the first place. And then I remind myself that this too shall pass, as my son passes by me covered in sweat, taunting me and laughing his head off until he runs into a piece of playground equipment. So we make our way back to the car as he cries, saying, “How could you let me get hurt like that?”
Needless to say, these are things I never imagined would be an issue before I was a mother. I had no idea my children would complain about the most simple tasks, such as sitting and chewing. They are tiny little self-consumed critics who often cause frustration and utter confusion in their parents. They also know just the right moment to plant a kiss on your cheek or bring you a dandelion from the yard, just in time to wipe their slates clean again. So while I do envy the moms whose kids take a more chill approach to life, I also have come to embrace the chaos, bask in the madness, and laugh endlessly each day as I survive the unexpected and infectious joy of my children.