My entire life: “I can’t wait to be a mother. I think I might even be good at staying at home all day. I’m going to have schedules with games, activities, outside time, we are going to be a very little screen time family! Now, let’s just get through high school, college, a stable job, and find someone who wants to start a family with me!”
As far back as I can remember, I have wanted to be a mom. I have recently had teachers, now co-workers, tell me they remember me talking about starting a family when I was really young. That high school class with the fake baby that cried, didn’t sleep, ate all the time — that was my favorite! I couldn’t wait to take that class, and I had a blast throughout the week we had the little bundle of joy. Fast forward through college, finding my first teaching position, dating, and getting married.
2014, when I started teaching. Colleagues, parents of students, my own family, and friends: ”You are so patient. I don’t know how you do it all day. You are a special person.”
Everyone I knew commented on how patient I must be. How much I loved my job and my students. I didn’t have an easy class my first year, but I grew as a young adult and I do believe I had some major patience throughout that year and the five that have followed. It came natural to me. I have since earned my Master’s in Education in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Behavior Disorders and love working with the toughest of tough kiddos. If I can handle this, then becoming a mom will be easy!
I thrive off of routines and schedules, expectations, and procedures. When I go into my classroom every morning I have a very specific, well thought-out plan for what the day is going to look like. I have a very specific routine to follow when a student is having a hard time, and I have co-workers that have my back and those same routines and procedures in place to support me. Being a teacher has come with some challenges, but NOTHING like motherhood.
In 2017, when my first child was born, I was being told what a great mother I was going to be and how my wife and I were going to make a great team. We were both pretty patient people, I mean she has been putting up with me for 5 years already which says a lot about her patience (haha). We knew motherhood would be difficult, but we were ready to learn alongside each other and grow together with our new bundle of joy, Oliver!
About 12 months into motherhood, as Oliver started walking and becoming more independent, my wife turned to me and said in a rather stern voice, “How are you so patient with your kids at school, but not with your own kid?!”
It took me a little bit to really process this. I wasn’t mad, I didn’t really think much about it, until she said something about it again. I started to think that yes, I do feel like I lose my temper more at home when him than I do at school. I do feel more exhausted in those 3 hours we have together at night, than I do for the 8 hours I am at school. Oliver is now 2.5 and I have done some thinking on this the past few months.
Why am I more patient at school with 20 kids than I am at home with my own kid?
Is it because at home I don’t feel like I have those tight routines and procedures or I feel weird implementing that process at home? Is it because I know my son’s living situation and at times I don’t understand how he could be upset or frustrated because he gets all his basic needs met? Is it because I am trying to be so perfect and organized and conquer motherhood like no other that I forget to slow down and enjoy the little moments?
In the past few months I have read books and talked to other moms about giving up control at home, knowing that the house will get cleaned eventually, the laundry will get finished eventually, the shoes, toys, art supplies will get put back away eventually. I have been putting forth more effort to allow my toddler to show his independence, to practice self-care for myself, to start the morning routine, clean up routine, bedtime routine a little earlier to make time for those moments when he wants to lay down on the floor and cry, or he asks for another cup of ice before bed, or he wants to go kiss his puppies goodnight for the fifth time. I am learning to stand back and breathe or laugh at these moments.
Being a mother isn’t easy. Being a mother doesn’t come with directions or a manual. Being a mother doesn’t allow for you to send your kid home at 3:20 for the night. Being a mother means butting heads with your toddler at times.
Being a mother is the best feeling in the world! Don’t worry about being perfect. Don’t worry about what the house looks like. Don’t worry about the stares in public because your child is on the floor screaming because you said no. Surround yourself with others who understand, find your self-care plan, and learn to laugh at those moments when you really want to cry or scream.