Yesterday I sent 2 out of 3 of my kids off to school crying. That’s nearly 67% for you mathematical types – hardly great odds if you’re my kid. They weren’t sobbing, per se, but definitely upset and still trying to recover from earlier tears. There weren’t any real dramatic events that led to the tears – just run of the mill kid stuff combined with reactions of mine that were probably less than ideal. When my 10 year old is already upset about something as we scurry up to the bus stop, do I really need to quibble with her over whether she brushed her hair? Probably not.
I know – rationally – that I’m not the only mom yesterday who said goodbye to upset kids. But psychologically, after dropping off the second upset kid of the day, in my mind I became The Kind of Mom Whose Kids Are Upset When They Leave in the Morning. And there is rarely any good that comes out of “I’m the Kind of Mom Who…”
As I continued with the rest of my day, I became The Kind of Mom Who Tries to Explain Too Much to the Teacher. And The Kind of Mom Who Takes Too Long at the Gas Station Because She Can’t Find Her Credit Card. And The Kind of Mom Who Forgot to Reply About That Lunch Invite.
You get the idea.
It’s no wonder that by the time I finished up my morning trip to Costco, I was literally in tears. All of this negative chatter in my head, and I was labeling myself in all of these horrible ways. I’m also The Kind of Mom Who Makes Banana Bread with Her Son. And The Kind of Mom Who Talks to Her Daughter about Body Image. And The Kind of Mom Who Says Something Kind to a Stranger. But those things don’t get recorded; they simply don’t register.
Later when things calmed down in my head, I started to think about labels and how damaging they have been for me. On some level, I’ve always labeled moms in my head as a way of trying to figure out where I fit in. There is an abundance of different mom types – I’ll list just a few…
The Pinterest Mom
The PTA Mom
The Super Healthy Eater Mom
The Skinny Mom
The Marathoner Mom
The Zen Mom
The Volunteer at School Mom
The Professional Working Mom
The Hippie Cloth Diaper Mom
The Happy All the Time Mom
The Gazillion Activities Mom
The problem for me is that I don’t fit into any of these categories. But when I see these moms, I compare myself to them (unfavorably, of course). I feel like I’ve always been on this search to find someone else in my Mom category – someone else I could look to and say, “Hey, they’re being a Mom the same way I am, and they seem healthy and their kids are fine.” But I could never find that person – because those labels don’t reflect real, three dimensional people. So I end up feeling more and more deficient. And more and more isolated.
The good news is that I’m beginning to be able to recognize these kinds of dynamics in my head – rationally, at least. That’s significant progress, and I realize that awareness is a huge part of the battle. I’m ready to be done with these labels, for my own sake. And I hope that I’m ready to start being The Me Mom.