I love being a mom — let me just get that out of the way. I’ve been a parent for over 20 years and I can’t imagine not being someone’s mom. My kids bring joy and laughter into my life like nobody’s business; they also bring snot, gray hair, and sleep deprivation, but hey, who’s keeping score?
But the thing is: I’m not an emotional mom.
I’m not a particularly emotional person. This doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings or that I have ice cubes in the place where my heart is supposed to be, but I’ve never been that girl who wears her heart on her sleeve (not that there’s anything wrong with being that girl who wears her heart on her sleeve).
My two youngest are in kindergarten this year. On the first day of school, I couldn’t escape the drop zone (also known as the gym) fast enough. It was like a rave for short, loud, sticky people. There was squealing, screaming, and laughter. Bruno Mars sang about uptown funk in the background. Have you ever heard a bunch of little kids singing along to Uptown Funk? It sounds like … ahem … well, never mind. School sure is different than from when I was a kid.
There was also crying, lots and lots of tears.
And I’m not talking about the kids.
Over half of the parents were crying at kindergarten drop-off. Some stealthily tried to hide their leaky eyeballs. Some openly sobbed. I overheard snippets of “Oh, my baby” and “Where does the time go?”
I kissed the eager, expectant little faces of my boys and made sure the zippers on their Paw Patrol backpacks were fastened, so their mammoth supply of glue sticks and wet wipes didn’t escape. I told them I loved them and issued vague instructions about remembering to speak up when they had to pee and bolted for the door. I made my way through the crowd of eager, nervous, first-day-of-school kids and the mostly tearful parents.
I sat in my car outside the school and wondered if there was something wrong with me. I was clearly in the minority with openly sharing my emotions at this milestone in my kids’ lives. Were the other parents wondering what was wrong with me? Were they judging me for my outward lack of emotion? I tried for a minute to tell myself that I’m one of those “emotions on the inside” kind of people, but no. I couldn’t be that dishonest with myself. The first day of kindergarten and all of the nostalgia and excitement that goes along with it did not invoke any sort of weepy, schmoopy, emotional response in me.
I have three kids and I’ve never cried at milestones like the first day of school, first haircut, first bike ride, first communion, first time behind the wheel of a car, first date. I’m appropriately happy or sick to my stomach at these rites of passage. I take pictures, upload them to Facebook and Instagram, and call my mom — stuff most moms do, I suppose. But I don’t have those soft, teary reactions. I don’t have the “My baby’s growing up and I’ll never get this time back” laments.
I know time moves fast when you have children. I wish it wouldn’t, and there are so many days where I remember snippets of the past: the intoxicating smell of a baby’s head, the hilarious toddler mispronunciations, and once, in a really weird moment, I missed tween eye-rolling. But you can’t stop time from moving, and move it does. I’ve never been one to give into “all the feels” over ordinary passage of time. It’s just not me.
And that’s OK.
I might come across as detached, aloof, or even downright cold. I’m none of those things; I’m just not an emotional mom, at least not outwardly.
I am a good mom. I love my kids. I have my own way of reacting to everyday motherhood and everyday milestones. Maybe my emotional barometer is on a more even keel that your average mom, if there is even such a thing as your average mom. There’s enough mom judging going on. I don’t need to add to it and judge myself for my lack of warm fuzzies and feels on the first day of school — or on any day.
I’m not an emotional mom — and my kids are doing just fine.More On