* Column of the Week:
Being a new mom is the hardest job on earth.
When looking back on the early months with my first child, it seems like a disjointed blur of late night feedings, projectile liquids and mid-shower leakage (the former from baby, the latter from me). Everything about becoming a new mom seemed unnatural. One moment youâ€™re a whole being, a complete entity that is known for its talent, ethics or weirdly big eyesâ€¦ and the next second youâ€™re purely a vessel for someone else. Your body goes from being something that guys whistle or yell at out of pick-up truck windows (while you feign disgust), to a freak-show alien with elbows on the insides, and too much food coming up instead of out.
To make matters worse, there are so many things no one tells you when you first get pregnant. For example, that round, hard stomach you love flaunting, wrapping in plaster or painting with â€œ8 monthâ€ markage because you donâ€™t have to wear Spanx anymore? Itâ€™s going to deflate quicker than your hair in the 80â€™s. Or your perky, â€œI donâ€™t need a boob jobâ€ excuse for a cup size? Youâ€™ll be suctioned up, suckled on and pumping out dairy before you can join the cows in the cattle drive. (Who knew the chest you used to pray for in grade school would be nothing more than an â€œAll You Can Eatâ€ buffet?)
But even though pregnancy and early motherhood have a great deal of downfalls to which no one speaks honestly, the hardest part of parenting is what happens next. Sometimes I look at my beautiful, dimpled 5 year old (who for all of her brilliance and imagination has equal parts manipulation and evil genius), and pray for the days of 4 AM microwave bottles again. When you look at that â€œpositiveâ€ sign produced by pee on a stick, you never think about the fact that one day youâ€™ll be saying the words: â€œNo, you can’t play Kung Fu Panda with your sister’s faceâ€ to a bossy, loud and defiant being. While staring longingly at your cherub cheeked newborn (and trying to ignore the stork bite and birthing rash you never knew were included), you canâ€™t imagine a time when youâ€™re innocent angel will react to everything with the ferocity of Robert Shapiro.
But even when she isnâ€™t fighting the legalities of peanut butter versus banana in her sandwiches, she is simply arguing every topic in existence while suffering massive breakdowns in the meantime. To put it simply, living with a small child is like living with a menopausal, pre-pubescent, pseudo-psychotic addict who goes from loving life, ladybugs and Lady Lovely Locks, to screaming, â€œI hate this dayâ€ and sobbing uncontrollably. Almost every single moment of our life is like an episode of One Tree Hill and Army Wives combined: lots of emotion, misplaced acting talent and one too many melodramatic montages.
Before you have children, no one warns you that not all problems can be solved with a smack on the bottom, a stern word or a long stay in the â€œtime out chairâ€. To parent from a place of immediate reaction and zero cognition is not truly parentingâ€¦ itâ€™s simply taking the easy road out. Now donâ€™t go thinking Iâ€™m some anti-discipline, â€œbe my BFFâ€ type of matriarch, because it goes without saying that kids should be taught right from wrong at all costs. I believe in children that say â€œyes maâ€™amâ€ when asked, that shake hands with a firm grip and that always offer to help even when none is needed. Conversely, I have recently come to the hard realization and self professed confession that Iâ€™ve lost my way as a mother (even if no one ever wants to admit it).
Sometimes as parents we find ourselves at an impasse where scowls outnumber the smiles and criticism overwhelms the praise. No matter how much we love, sacrifice and give to our children, more often than not, they are made to feel less than important at one time or another. Unfortunately, the busier life seems to get, the harder it becomes to take time to play in the puddles when weâ€™re late, stare at the clouds for no reason or listen whole heartedly to a seemingly 4-hour-long reenactment of How To Train Your Dragon. Instead, we tune out, talk over and ignore (even if their vocal levels rival that of a New York Housewife,Adam Lambert and Richard Simmons combined).
Though no one wants to say it, itâ€™s always going to be easier to see the bad over the good when it comes to our families. Itâ€™s always going to be faster to yell instead of discuss, or lecture instead of listen. But the thing that everyone fails to mention before you have kids is the simple, honest truth: they are annoying. They are bossy, they are loud, they are irrational, they are challenging. They think theyâ€™re always right, that they no best and that blood sucking robots really do live under the bed despite all historical and photographic evidence proving otherwise. But no matter how frustrating your progeny can be, they are never too wrong, too bad or too difficult to stop feeling the constant, never-ending, reassuring presence of our unconditional love.
So what happens when long hours of litigation and insurmountable sanity breaches from your offspring become too much? Well, when meticulously concealed tears, casually administered Benadryl and Pinot donâ€™t help, think back to the days when you first became a new mom. When fluttering kicks from inside meant the promise of a hand knit, organically grown and 100% cotton lined tomorrow. When you guessed what color their eyes would be, or marveled at their inky black fecal matter like it was the eighth wonder of the world.
Motherhood changes and evolves right along with our children, and frankly, it only becomes harder. But we should never lose sight of the scrapbooks, baby blankets and dreams of happy, healthy futures that started it all.
I might be a little saggier, a little sleepier and a lot less sane these days, but the next time I look at my grumpy, grueling, gorgeous 5 year old, Iâ€™ll let myself be equally as excited as I was on day one.
In the end, our kids will always be our babiesâ€¦ so letâ€™s take the time to stop forgetting it.
* Super Special Favorite Weekly Product: StriVectin-SH Age Protect SPF 30
Melanoma exists. Skin cancer is real. So why do young girls and women today continue to think a tan is more important than their life? Since so many loved ones in my family have had skin cancer, I take sun protection very seriously (yep, living to see my girls get married is more important than golden skin). But even if you believe in SPF as passionately as I do, not all sunscreens work the same. I had the privilege of learning about StriVectin’s brand new formula from the scientists themselves, and was amazed that it works at the cellular level (stopping damage from the inside out). And since daily use of sunscreen prevents signs of aging- no matter the weather, activity or amount of time outside- it gives your skin “time off” to repair itself from past damage too. Who can argue with that? It’s a win win!
*Â Bailey Vincent Clark is the Editor-in-chief, author and founder of Makeover Momma. She hosts Makeover Momma TV on Tuesday (7 PM/EST & 4 PM/PT), and writes this column weekly (if the kids don’t interrupt!)
Makeover Mommaâ„¢ occasionally receives cosmetic products for review, with no obligation to positively promote or cover said brand. Receiving products has absolutely no influence over our recommendation of any particular product.