Sometimes I can’t believe I survived the first year.
I would be walking my daughter and find myself window shopping bars during Happy Hour. Seeing people without kids happily carrying on amongst friends, it dawned on me that a carefree and unattached existence was mine but never fully appreciated. I’ve completely forgotten what it’s like to have nothing to do. I look forward to the day when I don’t wake up to the sound of crying or a poorly tuned and oppressively loud musical toy. One day!
Everything is harder as a parent.
Being inundated by pedestrians, buses, trolleys, cars and rideshare drivers (who display spectacular ineptitude) while maneuvering a stroller along a busy city street is a special kind of anguish. You contend with navigating the sidewalk’s lowered lip (or the best place to curb pop) to cross the street only to face the disapproving, annoyed glares of people who don’t want to acknowledge your existence, let alone make room for you. I’m not saying it’s everywhere or everyone but it happens A LOT.
When did motherhood become a contest?
The worst moms want to constantly compare our children’s growth and development, which they perceive to be directly correlated to THEIR superior parenting abilities. I get it, “according to Facebook” your one year old speaks four languages, uses chopsticks to eat, and doesn’t just walk but is a champion gymnast on the balance beam. What makes me feel most isolated, lonely and drives my bouts of postpartum depression is that no mom will talk with me about how hard this is. If they do it’s always prefaced with “But it’s totally worth it!”
We have zero conversations about the terrifying change in our lives and loss of identity, let alone admit there are days we wish we could walk out the door, disappear, and never come back. My husband is the only one I can talk to about this, and he’s not only my sounding board but my hero for dealing with the full outfit diaper blow outs inside airplane bathrooms. (Every time we travel. Bless his heart!)
Like every other parent with a toddler this age, I believe my child is musically gifted.
The way my daughter bops and sways to music and compulsively pushes buttons on musical toys has convinced me that my child is the one who’s truly musical. We go to a lot of music classes – which are far more exhausting and involved for caretakers than for our kids because infant and toddler music classes, foreign language story times, or immersion playgroups like this never existed when we were kids.
As parents, we’ve become obsessed with giving our children better opportunities in life – sometimes before they can walk or talk. I’m just as guilty as anyone for paying to sing ‘The Itsy-Bitsy Spider’ for the nine hundredth time and showing off my good sportsmanship to sing my lungs out while slapping my knees. Collectively feeling a little bit stupid is what makes this a bonding experience for the adults.
Even playgrounds, no matter where in the city, can be intimidating.
There’s always a mafia of moms who will never say “Hello” or welcome you into their circle, as I desperately hoped they would. I even took pains to copy their wardrobe. It appears the slip-on skater sneaker is the official footwear of moms, which, of course, I went out and bought. The shoes are absurdly comfortable and convenient, but it didn’t make me any new mom friends. I find more comradery with the nannies, who I’ve come to admire immensely!
Finding a sense of community as a parent has been a struggle.
I was under the misguided impression that having a child would qualify me for the Mom Card that’s accepted for friendships with every mom, everywhere. All the articles I read during pregnancy told me I would meet my Soul Mom at Mommy and Me. The truth is if the person is not someone you would otherwise befriend, you probably won’t get along any better just because you both push strollers around for a living. Mothers’ groups, be they online or in person, are a kind of sorority for parents and can be an incredible resource for some who enjoy a sense of community there. . . or so I’ve heard.
Sometimes I feel like the only stay at home mom in San Francisco.
Which is not entirely incorrect. Most mothers I befriended during my pregnancy or with newborns returned to work and now their nanny does what we would have done together. It makes sense that my best friend (we’ll call her V) works a share care with her own son and up to two others. Since V has already raised other people’s kids, she is my guru for all child related queries and the patient recipient of frantic texts that end with the sobbing Emoji. She also shares with me what she perceives as her own parenting fails, enabling me to be honest about mine. She’s the only friend that didn’t look painfully uncomfortable when I talked about feeling postpartum depression and the constant stress of motherhood. My weekly playdates with V are the highlight of my week because they involve amazing coffee and shooting the breeze at a playground where we can exhaust our kids for naptime.
For the record, postpartum depression does not mean I don’t love my daughter.
Every time I hear the lyrics “You are my sunshine…please don’t take my sunshine away” or “Sleep, sleep, sleepyhead…I will keep you safe and warm…snuggled in your bed” I tear up. Like any decent parent, I feel a chilling terror at the thought of losing my girl and a powerful Mama Bear instinct to keep her safe from harm. Getting so choked up and fighting back tears can be a tad awkward at music class.
We all think our kids are perfect.
Not perfect angels or perfectly behaved but some perfect cocktail of us and our partner. When my little one was crying nonstop because of her colic and reflux issues, everyone (and I mean everyone) would lay it on thick: “Cherish this time, it goes by so fast!” It was the longest year of our life. Now that her personality is taking shape, I can’t get over her: the look on her face when she rides on the back of my husband’s bike, how she joyfully rearranges shampoo bottles when we shower, or how she belts out “Twinkle, Twinkle” as she pushes around her toy shopping cart filled with every accessible knickknack in our apartment. She indiscriminately smiles and waves at everyone we pass on the street. Her infectious warmth is especially appreciated by the people who are homeless, who smile and engage with her. In those moments, I am refreshingly reminded that we’re all human. We have a lot to learn from our children.
At the end of the day, you do the best that you can.
I try to abide by the most important rule of parenting: Don’t judge how other people raise their kids, so you won’t feel guilty doing whatever is best for your family. While other mommies are comparing their kid’s stats, I will hold on to my husband’s words of radical acceptance: “She will get there in her own time. She always does.” I’ve come to treasure the friends I have made and accept that our closeness may ebb and flow due to our kids’ ever changing nap schedules. And one day I will shed my doubts that I am a bad mom because of my postpartum episodes because my daughter is happy, healthy, loved and always dressed to kill.
Formerly a fashion photographer and magazine editor, Miko is now a stay at home mom to a daughter she affectionately calls “Chipmunk”. She is the President of the Laube Family Foundation that supports youths, families, veterans and the arts. As an avid cyclist, she writes for the cycling blog WeLikeToBike.com that she founded with her husband Jon. You can follow her humorous parenting chronicles on Instagram @GrumpyChipmunk.