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I’m only human—and it’s okay if my kids see that

One of the most important lessons I have learned as a mother is that our children do not need us to be perfect. They need us to love them and to love ourselves.

I’m only human—and it’s okay if my kids see that

Today, I screwed up and had an adult temper tantrum in front of my 6-year-old and 2-year-old while out shopping. It was a legitimate outburst that would have competed strongly against any teething toddler with no sleep and an empty sippy cup.

My jacket zipper got stuck, and then while trying to get it unstuck, I managed to rip a huge hole inside of it. The down feathers came pouring out like water, mocking me as they flew away in the wind. And I snapped. Like an Incredible Hulk super smash showdown.

I yanked my jacket off, chucked it as hard as I could across the passenger-side seat of the minivan, and screamed a cornucopia of very bad words. My white-knuckled hands punched the air around me as if I were fighting a gang of angry bees. I continued by heaving my body into the driver seat, slammed the door as hard as I could, and then battled through a tug-o-war with my seatbelt. I was sweating and swearing. I was the worst version of myself in that moment.

It had been a very long week, as any mother can relate, and that darn zipper was my final tipping point. After I finished my hissy fit, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and remembered who my audience was in the backseat.

I finally mustered the courage to look back at my 6-year-old and make eye contact with her. She was unsure what to do. So, she did nothing. She just sat very quietly and did not move a muscle. Even my 2-year-old was frozen in suspense.

I quickly transformed back into "normal Mommy" and sincerely apologized for my behavior. I explained how my actions, while completely human from time to time, were unacceptable, and my choice in words was very poor. I could have handled it better.

She still didn't move or say anything.

I then asked her how I could have handled that situation better. She finally blinked, looked out the window in thought, and then replied, "Well, maybe next time take three really deep breaths and close your eyes, and then listen to the sounds outside, like the birdies singing, and then you'll be happy again."

I agreed with her suggestion and then asked if she had any other ideas to deal with anger. Without hesitation, she said, "You could also count to 10 or 20, or even 100, you know, whatever number you need to get to calm down. Sometimes, I count to 20, because I need more time than 10."

I nodded again, and she quickly followed with, "Or, you could also ask for help. You always tell me to ask for help when I get mad when I can't do something. So, maybe since you couldn't unzip your jacket, you could have asked Daddy for help instead."

(My whole face lit up and I was smiling ear to ear. Wow, I love that kid. How did I get so lucky?!)

Even better, when I apologized again, she said, "Don't worry, Mama, I forgive you. And, I'm sure Santa forgives you, too, and he will still bring you a present, because he loves you, just like me."

She is my constant source of humility and grace. And, because I allow her to see me be more human, and because I talk openly with her about my mistakes, she is learning compassion and forgiveness. Not just for others, but even more importantly, for herself.

When I first became a mother, I thought I had to be perfect. I thought I had to have a perma-smile with all the right answers, Pinterest-worthy style and recipes, and be in constant control. I thought that if my daughter ever saw me mess up or make a mistake, then I would be a failure as a mother.

Funny thing is, I messed up a lot as a first-time mom. It's inevitable. We are only human. But, one of the most important lessons I have learned as a mother is that our children do not need us to be perfect. They need us to love them and to love ourselves.

I am not a perfect mother, but I am perfect for my daughters.

When I was a teacher, I loved the quote, "When one teaches, two learn." Now, as a stay-at-home mom, I have transformed that quote into, "When one loves, two grow."

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My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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