I'm That Mom, And I'm Not Sorry

by Beth Pugh
A toddler boy wearing a green-and-white striped long sleeve shirt and licking a popsicle in a green ...

If you were to see me in the grocery store with my son, you might shake your head at me or roll your eyes. You might get impatient while my buggy is parked in the center of the aisle so I can rummage through my oversized bag searching for the box of Mike and Ike I brought for such a time as this. This being the point of meltdown I knew my son would reach while we’re shopping, when my boy is crying to be carried and I’m bribing him with candy to stay in the buggy.

I’m that mom, and I’m not sorry.

I’m that mom who bribes, bargains, pleads and appeases when need be. I’m that mom who lets my child eat cookies and candy before dinner if it keeps us from making a scene. I’m that mom who gives her 2-year-old a butter knife in the restaurant so I can actually eat the food I paid for. I’m that mom whose child doesn’t have socks on, because I’d rather turn the heat on in the car to keep his feet warm than to make him cry while he adamantly wails, “No socks!”

And I’m that mom at her wit’s end willing to do whatever it takes to just get through the store. Or sit through the meal. Or get through the church service. Or make it to bedtime. I didn’t plan on being that mom, though. In fact, while I was pregnant, I’d see a mommy beg her child to sit still and vow to myself, That will never be me. I had my mind made up. I was going to be the mom who refused to bargain with her child. I would be the boss, and it would be my way or no way. I’d just let him cry it out. I’d let him scream. I’d make him sit in my lap and not get down because I said so.

Little did I know that the child I was carrying would shatter my misconceptions of the ease of motherhood. I couldn’t have known before having him that he would be as stubborn as I am and would want to be the boss too. I didn’t know his tears would hurt as much as they do, and I certainly didn’t know of the great lengths I would go through to keep them from failing. My son turned my world upside down and showed me the mommy he needs me to be is that mom.

That mom who understands her child and is willing to bend, because a child’s happiness is priceless and they’re only little once. That mom who can recognize when sleepiness is the cause of a tantrum and decides to hug instead of reprimand. That mom who chooses simple rather than hard, merriment instead of meltdown, and silliness instead of shouting.

That mom you think is crazy, because I’m dancing in the rain with my son to keep him from crying. That mom who scoops him up like a football, or “hotball” as he calls it, and runs for a touchdown rather than force him to walk like a big boy. That mom who now knows candy isn’t the root of all evil (it’s closer to a godsend) and bargaining doesn’t mean I’m weak.

Being that mom doesn’t mean I’m taking the easy way out. It means I’m willing to push aside my preconceived notions of what a mom should be to allow myself to be the mom my son needs me to be. So roll your eyes if you want to. Whisper to your husband about what you see me do. Gasp in shock when you see my toddler playing with a butter knife, or a screwdriver, or whatever else you think he shouldn’t be allowed to play with. Stand impatiently while I let my son push buttons on the debit card machine.

I’m sorry for your wait, but I’m not sorry for being that mom you promise yourself you’ll never be. Maybe you’re right. Maybe you won’t ever be that mom. Maybe you won’t bribe and bargain like I do. Maybe you’ll do what I didn’t have the strength to and let them cry it out. Maybe you’ll be able to be the mother I always envisioned I could be, the mother I wanted to be. Maybe your child won’t need you to be that mom.

But my son needs me to be, and I’m not sorry.

So if by some chance you end up being that mom you thought you’d never be because your child’s needs are more important than your want to never be that mom, I hope you won’t be sorry either. Sacrificing wants for needs is what all mothers do best, and it’s something we should never be sorry for.