I’m “that” mom this morning. The mom who mixed up her kids’ lunch boxes and didn’t realize it until we were at our second stop and half an hour from home. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that my firstborn has lunch at elementary school and only needs snacks, and my youngest goes to preschool/daycare so we have to provide his lunch. And though I packed both lunch bags the night before and put them in the backpacks, I put them in the wrong ones.
Why is this a big deal? Because one small misstep, and the fragile ecosystem and delicate balancing act that is every mom’s life and workload can overturn and derail the whole day. Because it means backtracking. 30 minutes home to get the lunch, 30 minutes back to drop it off and 30 minutes home again. An hour and a half delay to the day that I can’t afford. More mom guilt.
I don’t know when I started having this realization that I’m “that” mom. Maybe because there are plenty of reels and TikToks making fun of “those” moms, or funny and quirky TV shows and sitcoms with dark, sarcastic humor about things like “mom brain”. About doing school drop-offs in slippers and bathrobes. About showing up to the bake sale with heaven forbid “store-bought” treats instead of homemade. About being the mom that actually lets her kid decorate their pumpkin project for school with glitter and glue instead of “Pinterest-ing” a cute Disney character and doing it for them.
But I wish we would acknowledge what’s really being made fun of—the overwhelm of motherhood.
We make fun of “mommy missteps.” Walking around with dinosaur stickers on your butt. The lack of awareness—or personal care—that you honestly can’t afford to have in certain seasons of motherhood. We’ve all seen the silly cliches and stereotypes about mom buns or the mom who doesn’t change out of her leggings or the mom who lives out of her car—or looks like she does (oh hey, it’s me!) Humour is a coping mechanism. And that’s OK. Sometimes if you don’t laugh you’ll cry.
The fact is there are too many balls to juggle and no matter how hard we try, some things are going to get dropped. We should acknowledge the reality that mothers are asked and expected to do the impossible every day. And while we’re doing it, we’re expected to make it look easy and fun and never complain about how hard it is or how tired we are.
The fact that mom brain isn’t a joke—because it is in fact very real.
I’ve started to accept that I’m “that” mom. The mom who’s putting on her makeup in the preschool parking lot because I didn’t have time to do it before leaving the house this morning and now I have to rush home for a Zoom meeting. I’m the mom messaging the teacher in the school app pictures of the reading homework that I did in fact complete with my second grader, but forgot to put in the school folder.
Related: Mom brain gives me superpowers too
I’m the mom who would do anything for her kids but still feels bone-weary and ready for bedtime at the end of the day. And if you’re “that” mom too, that’s more than OK. Enough of the tired mom tropes. Yes we’re tired—like really, really tired (p.s., thanks for letting us know how tired we look by the way).
But we show up every day for our kids, our partners, our employers, our homes and our life of responsibilities anyway. So maybe we should all celebrate being “that” mom. Yes, we might get mom brain often. We might be wearing yesterday’s pants, hair or makeup—but hey, we made it here.
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