I wear Batman t-shirts.
I curse (sometimes too much).
I’m a weird mixture of both type-B and type-A personalities.
I’m a veteran.
I’m a student.
I’m a girlfriend.
And I’ve been a mom for 6 incredible, eventful, agonizing years. The ways parenting has changed my life can’t possibly be cut down to one blog post, but there’s been a recurring theme in my life of parenthood.
Never quite fitting.
This used to weigh heavily on me. I felt like I needed to rush my life. Hurry up and get married, buy a house, get a career because every other parent around me seemed to have it so much more together than me. I was a single mom, living with my parents, and struggling to figure out how to finish my degree (and what to finish it in) while trying to support a growing girl. Then, I met E, and I had one more piece of the puzzle, but again…I wanted to hurry up and be a “normal” family. It put a lot of pressure on me, and a lot of pressure on him.
When Z started attending preschool, it was a whole new world for me too. Figuring out how to fit in with mom’s that were mostly older than me, with a history I didn’t know how to explain or what I should (or shouldn’t) explain, and the constant struggle of never feeling like I could afford everything I wanted for Z. I saw mom’s planning play dates, driving minivans (not jealous of the minivans, let’s make that clear), taking their kiddos to dance and gymnastics and swimming and this and that. All while I’m driving an on-it’s-last-leg ’03 Ford Taurus, with no house, no ring, no money, no degree.
Plus, as a side note, my degree (that I’m still working toward–only 2 more semesters!) is in Creative Writing with a minor in Theatre. Not exactly a money making machine of a degree, let’s be honest.
But I survived. I survived those pre-school years, but didn’t gain any more confidence from before.
Then, it was time for kindergarten. The summer leading up to it, I struggled with these same demons in the back of my head, but I tried a different technique. I’d compare myself to other moms but would say to myself, “They have no edge.” or “Those mom’s are so typical.” Or the best one, “I’ll be the cool mom.” But all of those supposed reasons of why I was a better mom got me nowhere either. Comparison, whether inflating or deflating yourself, is truly the thief of joy.
But a couple of months into kindergarten, and suddenly tides started changing for me. I watched how Z interacted with the adults and other kids at her school, I watched how enthusiastic she was, I watched how strong and brave she was. I saw myself step up and defend her when she had an issue with another kid in her class, after exhausting her other options. I saw myself succeeding in school (for myself), finding more financial independence, and enjoying other moms instead of competing with them. And I suddenly found my worth. I was no better or worse than these other moms. We were just different. They lived a life that was the best for them and their families, and I lived one that was best for me and mine.
And that seems simple, but these were issues I agonized over for years.
It can be easy to define ourselves by those around us. It can be easy to offer ourselves harsh judgment (and even easier to offer others that sort of judgment), but it leads nowhere. And I’m realizing more and more that no one fits. We’re all just out there, trying to figure it out along the way.
So, for all you moms who feel like you don’t fit, you do. You fit in this wonderful spectrum of love and growing up and the unknown. You fit perfectly for that kid (or those kiddos) that look to you for comfort and guidance and fun. You fit in this crazy life because it’s yours and you define it.