I've been feeling a bit distracted lately. It could be the
weather, a nagging insomnia I've been meaning to call the doctor
about for the past year or my kids' very active schedules and
interests that leave little time for anything else besides them and
But as I thought about this month's issue and the great (or not
so great) advice readers' moms passed on to them, I couldn't help
but wonder if I somehow missed some valuable advice about some of
the things I didn't expect to encounter when I became a mom.
I didn't expect the constant whining or how much I would
absolutely hate it. Give me fingernails on a chalkboard any
I didn't expect the constant bad-parenting moments, like
screaming at the kids to stop the bickering or resorting to threats
of punishment and not following through. (Yes, I know that's really
I didn't expect to feel so jealous of the stay-at-home moms
laughing and playing with their little ones at the park I pass
every day at lunch. I didn't expect to feel guilty when my kids beg
to go to the park and I respond "maybe later" because I am so
mentally exhausted when I get home from work.
For that matter, I didn't expect to feel guilt every day over
something involving the kids.
I didn't expect a mommy could go from hero to zero in a blink of
the eye, but it happens, unfortunately, with regularity, especially
as the kids get older.
I didn't expect to be so distracted that I listen to them talk
without really paying full attention or to feel so overwhelmed that
when I do sleep I have nightmares about juggling their
Yet, all that said, there are those incredibly crystal clear
moments where I actually feel like I am doing a good job as mom.
Most of these moments these days come in the car. The kids and I
literally spend hours every week in the car driving to Irish dance
classes, tennis lessons, soccer, sports performance training and
I like hearing what's on their minds and seeing their opinions
form. If I'm lucky, I'll even hear the inside scoop on what's going
on in the schools (though the thought of some of the middle school
kids drinking and having sex is totally freaking me out and the
mean girl antics in elementary school make my blood boil).
As we drive and talk, they really seem to listen as I share my
own thoughts and values in the hope that they will one day remember
them as they pick their own way through life's minefields.
In the 14 incredible and humbling years I've been a mom, my life
has changed completely. In the middle of the night, as I lay awake
listening to the soft breaths of my sleeping babies in the quiet
house, I can't help but smile because my heart is filled with
It is the life I expected.
Happy Mother's Day.
Tamara is the editor of Chicago Parent and mom of three.
See more of Tamara's stories here.
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