One of the things I love most about writing a blog is getting to hear so many different opinions. I love people who don't agree with me. How boring would it be if everyone did? Last week when I published a blog about how it was important for me to be true to things that mattered to me now that I'm a mom - including doing my hair and wearing real pants - I knew it would be controversial. I meant it only as a standard for myself, and I explicitly said in the blog that my rockstar mom role models make time for things that are important for them (which doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as it does to me). It wasn't about anyone else's behavior but rather what I think is important. I knew, however, that people would read it the way they wanted to. And that's okay - that's what creates thought provoking dialogue.
That blog popped into my head when I started thinking about the myriad things people would say would change once I had kids (and I say that at the beginning of the post). My husband and I waited 5½ years to have a child. During that time I would hear, "Well it must be nice to wear heels. Just wait until you have a baby." Or, "Well it must be nice to have time to do your hair and makeup. Just wait until you have a baby." All of those comments were delivered with the judgment and snark of people who would never imagine that someone would still find those things important once they have a child. What I would think during that time was, "Wow it must be nice to have a baby." And while I desperately, desperately, wanted a baby all those years, I knew I would try my hardest to still be myself once he or she arrived.
Last year I actually wrote a similar blog about how I hated being told, "Wait until you have kids. (fill in the blank) will change." What I imagine happened is that my friends who are parents read it then, laughed to themselves and thought I'd change my tune once I had a baby. Fast forward about a year, and I feel the same way. Now though I'm the judgey mom because it's still important for me to wear cute shoes and go for a run.
Here's what I realized in my years of waiting to have a child: parents can be a-holes. Before I get the snarky comments let me say that 1) I'm including myself in this blanket statement, and 2) I'm was an a-hole before I had a child (at least I own it). So many people seem to think that their lives are so precious just because they have children. When we were childless our lives were so easy and meaningless right? We didn't have anything to worry about. I had someone recently tell me they couldn't wait until my ideals about what was important in my childless life "came crashing down" once I had a baby. I was told that marriage without children really isn't a serious relationship. I was told that my life wasn't as important because I wasn't raising a child. I got a comment on my blog last week that now that I have a child, I "have a life". Now that I'm writing these down I'm a little shocked at the audacity of people to say these things as if life doesn't matter unless you have children. The a-hole parents don't even try to hide this judgment toward childless people.
Here's the thing: I love my son so, so much. I will concede that I did not know this kind of overwhelming love existed in the world. But before we had him I had a marriage and a life that was valid too. Sure it was childless, but that doesn't make it less legit. My career, my running, my snarky blog...all of it was important. And it still is.
Last week a friend texted me and asked why I couldn't just be a happy mom "without all the other sh*t". I knew what he meant, but I made him spell it out. Apparently if you're snarky or candid or willing to stand up for what's important to you, you're not a happy, proud mom. I love being a mom. I was worried at times before we had a baby that I wouldn't, and thankfully I was wrong. I think I'm pretty good at it, but I'm not giving up who I am. It would be a disservice to my son if I did.
Let me reiterate what I said last week that people chose not to read: I have so many friends who make time for what's important to them. It's different for every person. I don't care if you leave the house with wet hair. I don't care if you're wearing yoga pants. For ME and only me, it's important that I not do those things. That's part of how I remain true to myself. I wouldn't have done it before I had Will, and I'm committed to maintaining my sense of self through wearing cute shoes, fixing my hair and running.
If you read this and think I'm judging you, I'm not. Honestly I think every mom should rock it out however she wants. But I think back to the 5 years of snarky comments about how easy and meaningless my life was or even the ones I'm getting now about how I didn't breastfeed or have to deal with hormones, and I think wow. Just wow.
And a side tangent: I had two abdominal surgeries and a blood clot last year, but clearly I don't know what it's like to have your body feel like it's not your own. Also once pregnancy is over, it's over. Yes I know your body forever changes, but you're not continually sick. You don't have IV infusions every six weeks like I have for 13 years. I've had six abdominal surgeries, and I will likely have more in my lifetime. But you're right...I have no idea how awful it is to be pregnant. Sorry - I digress. Comments about how my life is easy because I didn't deal with pregnancy push me over the edge...but that can be another blog.
It's important for me to push through the hard stuff. That's who I am, remember? If you know me or you've read this blog for any length of time you know that. And if you're still reading it, then you know I'm not targeting you. I'm my own worst critic. I'm tougher on myself than anyone else could ever be. I'm constantly questioning whether I'm a good enough mom, wife, family member, friend, employee, runner, etc. I push through the hard stuff to be the best that I can. If wearing heels and a cute outfit and having a sassy haircut makes me feel like I'm more together to meet all the goals of my life, why do you feel like that means I'm judging you? This wasn't about judging you - it was about judging me. If that commentary bothers you, perhaps you should think about the sacrifices you've made that make my comments hit a nerve. It's not about what I think. If you think I'm judgmental to others, you don't want to be here in my head. It's an intense place.
Be true to yourself, friends, whatever that means. I'm a mom. I'm also snarky, brash, ambitious, Type A, and impatient. I'm loyal, can be loving, and I've learned through loving my son that I can sometimes even be sweet (although that ruins my rep). If having a baby is supposed to make me some kind of meek, altruistic shell of my former self, I guess I'm not doing it right. If you're looking for me to have turned into a Pollyanna, keep on looking.