This week my son turned one while I’m still over here like “wow, I can’t believe I have a kid.” Because despite carrying him and birthing him and spending 24/7 with him that shit still blows my mind. It’s insane. And me being in charge of another human’s life just proves that the universe is drunk. He’s laying on top of me while I write this and every time I look down at him I’m like OMG HE IS A TODDLER. And he’s mine? And then my brain discombobulates a little and I have to recalibrate by binge-watching The Politician on Netflix.
Here are a few things I’ve noticed since having my son:
•Parents are scary: I will die or kill for my kid. Without question. I had no idea that parents were so gangster. Turns out yes, yes they are. All moms are Al Pacino in yoga pants. Fucking terrifying.
•Anxiety is so much worse and weird: I’m already an anxious person but it’s a lot worse with a kid. I spend a lot of time thinking like a CIA operative. Is this house safe? Exits? Potential threats? Hmm he seems weird, Siri scan the sex offender list for…
•Zero tolerance: I had a low tolerance for shit before but now it is zero. No time for crap friends or bitchy family members. No time for Karen’s bullshit while standing in line for a coffee. Get your goddamn half caf, half decaf, half mocha, skinny latte and sit down Karen. No time.
•Ambition for days: I’ve always been driven but ever since I pushed my little gremlin out into the world it’s so much more intense. There’s something about sleep deprivation that makes you feel like you can do anything.
•World problems: I’ve always cared about the state of the world but since becoming a parent it’s much much more. His future, his life, depends on the choices we make right now as global citizens. Voting matters more. The environment matters more. Everything matters more. Now when you fuck up the planet you’re messing with my kid. See bullet number one.
The Struggle is Real: Empowerment and Humility
I’ve learned a lot about myself and parenthood in this past year while also realizing that I don’t know anything at all about anything. It’s empowering (FOR I AM THE BOSS AND ALL POWERFUL) and also very, very, humbling (I was running towards him the other day because he was about to kill himself, and my arms were swinging because I was sprinting when my phone slipped out of my hand and flew forward and into. his. head. and he was like WHAT JUST HAPPENED and I cried and now he’s going to need therapy and fuuuuck).
Parenthood and Authenticity and Modeling
Being a mom is weird. I feel the same as before. Exactly like the same ole ME only with way more at stake. It’s also harder to navigate my ME-ness. It’s hard to be authentic AND model ideal behavior for Leo. One thing I’ve definitely learned is that parenting is 10% what you say and 90% how you act. This is great because it will probably make me a way better human but it’s really difficult for me because I’m just not kid-friendly. I never have been. I’m very much a person who lives inside her head. Which is great for a writer but not great for a mom unless I want him to grow up to write about how “inaccessible” I was throughout his childhood (this is what Joan Didion’s daughter reportedly said about her). Also, I can be anxious and focus on the negative things (this is probably where my sense of humor comes from because I feel like people who like to laugh are also often cynical). Like I’m really into worst-case scenarios. And I tend to call my friends to talk mostly when something bad happens instead of calling them to celebrate good things. I worry that this will make him an angry and anxious ranter. Not cool. Because I want him to be one of those obnoxious happy and positive people that I roll my eyes at instead of that angry little cloud I was from 12-28. And let’s talk about self-talk. It matters. And only recently have I started to realize how bad I am at it. God, I have such a hard time being kind to myself. I often say things like “mommy is a dumbass” when I knock something over and then I’m like ACK! Why would I say that?” That’s exactly how he’s going to talk about himself if I do that. FUCK. STOP. I need to cover my house with post-its that are like SELF TALK MATTERS YOU ASSHOLE. Wait. No. See! There I go again! SEND ME POST-ITS!
Finding Balance: My Own Individual Happiness And Not Raising a Broken Asshole
Another area that’s really hard for me is that I’m struggling to marry my ambition with what’s best for him. There’s the ME that’s fiercely ambitious and needs a lot of alone time and time to work on my own projects and the one that doesn’t like to miss even five minutes of his day. I’m not good at this balance and find myself, often, not taking care of myself like I need to for both of us and then I flip the fuck out when I listen to The Moth and someone tells a story like, “I was a hospice nurse and almost every regret is that the person doesn’t feel like they lived the life they wanted to live” and I just kind of die inside for a minute. Writing gives me life. I want to keep writing books and movies and get into Sundance one day with a film that I made. I want to have more art shows and sell my work. And I want to be the best mom I can possibly be. When I die, I want my kids to tell stories about how I was always there for them and I made them feel safe and loved–Even if I was suuuuper annoying about it. I have to find a balance. A happy and healthy mom is a lot more fun to be around than one who is run down and burnt out. A mom who feels good about herself and her accomplishments is better than one who deep down secretly feels like she missed out on her life. And for those of you who are like “but isn’t being a mom enough for you?” No. I’m supposed to say yes but the truth is no. I absolutely love being a mom and Leo is the most important thing in my life. And while being a mom is, I believe, a noble and incredible job, it is not the only thing I need to thrive. I need more. And maybe that makes me greedy but I truly believe it makes me honest if anything. The thing with momhood is that you are a caretaker. It’s all about giving and giving and giving. But it can’t possibly be healthy to give without replenishing yourself a little and the things that I love like writing do that for me. And I think that’s ok as long as I’m not taking away from Leo because here’s the other thing about being a mom: I made the choice to do it and he’s going to impact the people in his life and the world either positively or negatively and it’s my responsibility to raise a good human. We don’t need more broken people like me in the world. Or assholes. Seriously.
Now more than ever im not good at taking care of myself. He has oatmeal, fruit, and a green smoothie for breakfast and I’m living on chocolate bars and coffee. He sleeps like a starfish in my bed while I literally curl up at the bottom like the family pet and watch him snore. I’m working on it. I need to ask for help more. I need to take moments to work out and do a face mask. Or like stare at a wall.
Being a mom is beautiful and so much fun, it’s terrifying and confusing. It’s a balancing act between who I am, like the me, me, and the one I want/need to be for him. I’m learning, slowly, or trying to at least, how to prioritize him and me. Any and all tips welcome in the comments.
The Truth About Momhood
Since I never wanted kids growing up and I tend to overshare I get asked, A LOT, about what mamahood is really like. Sans the “unicorns and rainbows.” I can say that it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done because it’s just so different from anything else I’ve ever done. It’s weird to be “on” all the time. It’s scary to love something so much (especially as an anxious person who has lost a lot and tends to think that anything bad could happen any second). It’s straining on my back and marriage. But it’s also genuinely wonderful. Hanging out with Leo makes me insanely happy. And tired. But mostly happy. I like him the most in this life and watching him grow is super cool.
A Year in the Life
Over this year my little has turned into this person who was the most alert newborn anyone had ever met to this unbelievably social little boy. He prefers crowds and people to being home. He hates to sleep and fights it every time. His favorite food is middle eastern and he eats constantly and huge amounts. He loves animals. And pretending to feed his doll Pierre. He’s also the most tenacious human I’ve ever met and filled with fire. I have no idea where that comes from 😈. Hes smart. Like really smart. Prefers to play alone which bums me out but he’ll occasionally summon me for a snuggle every thirty min or so. He’s a Capricorn and even though I don’t know if I really believe in signs he seems to fit the bill. Most importantly he’s happy and I just hope he stays that way forever. Or at least until he’s thirteen and filled with hormone angst.
How do y’all do it?
4 thoughts on “My First Year of Momhood: Moms are Like Al Pacino in Yoga Pants”
Mine at 12 and 14. It’s like toddlerhood all over again. I’m exhausted. But in a good way. Or a bad way. Depends on my mood or state of sleep deprivation. So…
Mine are 17 (SEVENTEEN!? what, how?) and 15. It is a roller coaster ride all the time. It’s also the best thing I’ve ever done. They are awesome humans and I have so much pride that maybe I helped that process along the way. Anxiety is a “thing” for me too, just last night I was awake thinking of the terror of my daughter going off to college and being responsible for her own safety, but it’s also filled my life with so much love, so many traditions that are our own, such a feeling of completion.
I agree about keeping yourself, the “real” you that pre-existed the “mom” you, firmly in the picture though. Think about when it’s time for him to leave to commence his own independent life; if you have lost yourself there is a risk you will cling to him and try to keep him from blooming into his own full self. (This is my own “stuff,” very much.)
That said I have done a far from perfect job. I have let friendships and exercise lapse in favor of working hard (non-mom job) that’s important to me and that pushed our family’s income into a place that we can afford a nice house, parties with and for friends, expensive sports including travel, and some epic family vacations that have produced some of my favorite memories of this phase of our life. All things that my single mom could not do, as she worked hard to just keep a roof over our heads.
If your son needs therapy because you threw your phone trying to protect him…he’s had a pretty boring life 🙂 I mean that in the most humorous way. Do your best, show him all the love you have for him, keep him safe and make him feel secure because you’ll always be there for him. Apologize when you’re grumpy or tired or stressed and you’ve been short with him. Show him you are a human. Share your sense of humor. Be gentle with yourself. There’s not a single perfect parent (or person) on the planet.
Keep on keeping on. Toast yourself for surviving that tough, transformative first year. You’re doing great.
After a harrowing landlady experience years ago, I sold a bunch of things and took my (then) 5, 7, and 8 year old sons to my family’s just outside of Lucca. They are now 20, 22, and 23, still talking to me and want to return to Italy, so it all worked out! They survived and, more importantly, have really great stories – but MAN! This was before smart phones, decent wifi, and I didn’t have a car (and the 5 year old refused to potty train!). I just constantly reminded myself that I “am a work in progress and I’ve never been a parent before that I can remember”…it helps. Also: hot baths and glasses of rose…You are amazing and your writing makes me laugh out loud and I recognize so many of the situations! Currently heading back to Sicily to spend some time and figure out what’s next. You are doing great!
I have a 13 year old and a 7 year old. My dear kindred spirit, I am living your experience as well. We will hide the bodies of the bodies of those who threaten our children, then go to group therapy for our mom guilt. Together, in our yoga pants.😉