i can be good at other things


Is my motherhood mantra.

I can be good at other things.

What does it mean? Where does it come from? How can you, too, find comfort in these 7 little words?

I'm so glad you're here, and I'm so glad you asked.

A good friend of mine was in labor with her second child. Her first labor had been induced - she had some medical complications that made her doc pretty jumpy about letting her go over her due date. And since they had induced her, she went ahead and got an epidural too. Pitocin, as we all know, makes contractions face-clawingly awful. Sorry, I meant to say more face-clawingly awful.

The second time around, she had the option of an epidural. Here's the conversation I imagine happening in her head:

They offered me an epidural this time. I wish they hadn't given me the choice.
It seems like you really want an epidural.
But I'm ashamed that I'm afraid of the pain.
Pain is scary. It's ok to fear pain.
But shouldn't I love my baby more than I feel pain?
What? Who said that those were your only two options?
Maybe I should try this naturally.
Why do you want to?
A lot of my friends did natural birth. If I can't do it, doesn't that, I don't know, MEAN something?
It means you're smarter than your friends.
Seriously, if I can't do this naturally, maybe I'm... not... as... good a mother? Or as strong a woman?
I don't think it means that at all. I think it just means you want an epidural.
I just want what's best for my baby.
I know you do.
I just want him to come into this world perfectly.
He will. 
I just have to remember that the birth is only a fraction of the relationship I'm going to have with this child.
That's right.
And I will feed him, clean him, cuddle him and tickle him just as much as my natural-birth friends did to their babies.
Of course you will!
And you know what? I don't have to be good at giving birth without pain medication.
You sure don't.
I can be good at other things!
Damn fucking straight.

My friend told me that she decided she could be good at other things, and I felt something loosen in me, an easing, a release. I know it sounds like I'm coming up with euphemisms to use in a MiraLax commercial, but truly, I felt physical relief to hear someone say it out loud:

We don't have to be good at everything. 

Of course, we know that. We're not totally delusional.

Of course, nobody would say, "I'm just trying to be great at everything!" But even though we say things to each other like, "ugh, he's just eating pouches for every meal because it's easy!" or "I had to turn on Sesame Street so I could get dinner on the table," what we're really saying is, "tell me it's okay that I'm not great at everything. Tell me I'm doing fine. Tell me my kid knows I love her. Tell me I'm not fucking this up."

Every mom I know lives in fear of dropping one of the fourteen balls she keeps soaring through the air at all times. We can't just feed our kids - we have to feed them non-Monsanto seasonal local organic dye-free preservative-free meals that will ensure their forever health. We can't just get them dressed for a play date - we have to make sure the socks match the shade of blue in the tee-shirt. We have to put on sunscreen, and not just any sunscreen... We have to read stories. We have to sing songs. We have to read about child-safe cleaning products. We have to buy vinegar and baking soda because there are no child-safe cleaning products. We have to. We have to. We have to.

There's nothing optional about raising kids. Everything is important. Or at least it feels that way.

But you know what?

I don't have to deliver my babies without pain medication.
I can be good at other things.

I don't have to dress Chicken like a catalogue kid.
I can be good at other things.

I don't have to make every meal from scratch out of organic produce.
I can be good at other things.

I don't have to wash his hair every night.
I can be good at other things.

I've decided to be good at:

Deciding not to give a fuck if he wants to wear rain boots on a sunny day. No fucks given.
Doing the voices in books.
Art projects.
Singing all the verses in "Baby Beluga."
Giving Chicken some freedom to make mistakes.
Kissing boo-boos.
Making nutritious meals that are also quick and easy.
Finding convenient, healthful microwaveable lunches.
Keeping Chicken's village intact (and Buster's too, once he can see farther than like 5 feet)

I decided I can be good at other things.

So can you.

In fact, you already are.

Remember that you are the very best mother in the world for your child.

There are all kinds of mommies out there - cooking mommies and sporting mommies and reading mommies and dancing mommies. There are mommies who keep immaculate houses and mommies who always have sticky rings on their tables. There are mommies who go to work and come home for dinner, and mommies who stick around and bug their kids all day long.

Every single one of those mommies is great at a lot of things.
Not a single one of those mommies is great at everything.
We're all part fuck-up and part super-mom.

So if your kid is eating pouches for every meal because it's easy, or if you just have to turn on Sesame Street, I'm here to tell you:

It's okay that you're not always great at everything.
You're doing fine.
Your kid knows you love her.
You are not fucking anything up.

You can be good at other things.


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