Mom Confessions: Struggles I Hide from My Kids 1 of 7
The one struggle I really try to hide from my kids is all about them: Maternal Imposter Syndrome. You know what I'm talking about: It's that fake-it-'til-you-make-it feeling. The sense that any minute now the Real Mother will return and wash these children's faces, straighten up their toys, and lay dinner on the table — all without chipping her perfect nail polish. The sure knowledge that a) you don't know what you're doing and b) you're probably doing it wrong.
I know my kids look up to me. They see me as the perfect being who orders their little world. I'd rather not burden them with the scary fact that after almost 9 years as a parent, I still doubt every decision I make, big or small.
Read more about Sierra's Maternal Imposter Syndrome
Mom Confessions: Struggles I Hide from My Kids 2 of 7
2: I Dont Always Practice the Girl Power I Preach
My husband and I make a pretty good team. Theres not a lot of bickering about whose job it is to do what to keep the house running smoothly. What I like best about our arrangement is that we sort of play to our strengths. What I hate about it, though, is that the jobs fall ridiculously along stereotypical gender lines. For example:
Hes trash. Im toilets.
He set up our wi-fi. I picked the furniture.
If something needs to be assembled or hammered into the wall, I ask my husband to do it. If the kids need to see the doctor, dentist, or a tutor, I take them.
How gross is that? Its not that I cant put together furniture (that I picked out!). I just dont want to. I tell myself thats no big deal, but I know my girls notice the division. And I dont want them to think only dads — thereby boys — can handle fire, hammers, and Hefty bags. I spend a lot of time talking to my kids about the messages the media sends all the pink, supporting-role stuff for girls. All the tough guy, take-chargeish roles for boys. And then I dont even bother with picking up a power tool. Shouldnt I know better and walk the walk?
Read more about Madelines efforts to teach her kids gender equality
Mom Confessions: Struggles I Hide from My Kids 3 of 7
3: I Care About My Looks
One thing I hope to instill in my 9-year-old girl is a positive self-image. The last thing I want is for her to strive to conform to an unrealistic notion of beauty espoused by a society that becomes enamored with clowns like The Situation. I want her to know that the most beautiful thing she could ever be is herself. I try hard to show by example that Im not overly concerned about the way things look. But this past December, I reached my highest weight ever. It was time for action. In January, I recommitted to exercise and a good diet, and I have lost some weight, but Im still a bit off from where Id like to be. Thats when the following happened:
The other day, my daughter caught me examining myself in the mirror after a run.
What are you doing? she asked.
Oh nothing, I answered as I reached for my shirt.
I know, she answered with a smile. Youre checking yourself out to see if your belly is getting smaller.
Mom Confessions: Struggles I Hide from My Kids 4 of 7
4: I want to hide from my daughter
Once my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter started crawling and then walking, any notion that I could have a sanctuary or a few waking minutes of peace and quiet were dispelled. Shes my stalker. If I leave the room and come back 12 seconds later, shes like a puppy who greets me like we havent seen each other in years.
In some ways its sort of flattering to be stalked. After all, I used to worry that my daughter hadnt gone through any age-appropriate separation anxiety. She must not love me, I cried to my husband. Then it dawned on me that I wouldnt really know if she experiences anxiety because we are never apart.
Some mom wrote a magazine article a few years ago about how the only time she ever had to herself was when she was in the bathroom. Those minutes in the john sounded like a GREAT idea. Until I realized the lock on my bathroom door doesnt work.
Read Merediths theory about the reason her daughter is so clingy
Mom Confessions: Struggles I Hide from My Kids 5 of 7
5: My Marriage Isnt Perfect
Both my husband and I grew up in houses with parents who fought and yelled. A lot. We had no positive role models for relationships. Thats no excuse, but it can hamstring a person trying his or her hardest to make it through the latest lap of the marriage marathon. Each lap is SO different. You can be cruising along on one and gasping for breath the next.
The aspect of parenthood I find the most challenging is hiding that drama from the kidsthe impatient exchanges that Violet so carefully listens to now, my acid-tongued impulse to say exactly what I want to say to my husband. Parents are built to want more for their children than they had, and I would consider myself an abject failure as a mother if Violet and Henry ever look back and remember me arguing with their dad like I remember with my parents.
Mom Confessions: Struggles I Hide from My Kids 6 of 7
6: I still hate leaving him
I know Im approximately the 100-millionth parent to struggle with the question of being away from her most precious human being. Ive read the research on healthy and happy kids in daycare (indeed, I share it with my readers a lot). I loved my sons daycare and I love his preschool. So why is it something I struggle with on almost a daily basis?
For the most part, my struggle isnt over whether or not being away from me is bad for him, although in my more vulnerable moments those thoughts do knock around in my head. I know that we are a happier family with me as a working parent. But even if I know that intellectually, it doesnt make me feel better about having so little control over his world for all that time during the week.
Mom Confessions: Struggles I Hide from My Kids 7 of 7
7: I Worry ALL the Time
Before I had kids, I rarely thought about catastrophes and world disasters. I was the typical young and carefree person who really believed that nothing bad would ever happen to me, and thankfully, nothing ever did. So I was surprised at how having my daughter turned me into an instant worry wart. Outwardly, youd probably never know it, but when she was born, I worried about SIDS, her sleep schedule, her nutrition, and if Id be a good-enough mother.
Later I worried about falls, head trauma, and sickness. Now that shes older and on her own, I worry about car accidents and strangers. As much as I would like to keep my troublesome thoughts to myself (and I try very hard to do that), I probably let out my worry from time to time. And then I worry about that!
I dont know why or how I got this way after having kids, but I would like it to stop. I would love to be that mother who is laid back, a mom of real free-range kids so to speak, but I just havent been able to do it.