What's a "perfect" mother, anyway?
I always secretly hoped that having a child would transform me into a more responsible person. I would be a mother! Mothers have excellent dental hygiene, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, right? Sure, I sucked at all that stuff before, but once I had a baby, things would get on track. I would set a good example for my child.
Of course, after my baby was born, my dental routine did not immediately improve.
Well, I was just busy! She didn't have any teeth yet, anyway! When she started growing teeth, that is when my daily flossing habit would kick in. I would be She Who Flosses Daily and show my tiny daughter what it's all about.
In fact, it is my 17-month-old who frequently shames me into taking care of my teeth. She thinks brushing her teeth (well, sucking the tooth gel off a toothbrush) is the most fun thing ever, and plaintively calls out, "Teeeeeeet? Buuuuuuss?" whenever we walk too near the bathroom door. Then we have to do it, because what kind of monster refuses when a child asks to brush their teeth?
So, actually, my dental hygiene has improved, but not due to any virtue on my part.
The situation in the fruits & veggies department is not entirely as I imagined either.
I purchased a food processor and made all of her baby food in the first year, and even managed to keep most of it organic. As she grew older and able to share in our regular meals, her diet lost some variety. Part of it was an increased pickiness and refusal of anything green, a situation I hear is fairly common with toddlers. But I know that the other part is my own eating habits and their lack of ultimate transformation upon motherhood ... Oops.
Last but not least, I always dreamed my child would love books the way I did, and I would never refuse a request to read to her.
The first part has come true, but the second is a lot harder to maintain after the 9th iteration of the same inane book. I am a full-time mom, as well as a small business owner, so I often work while she plays nearby. Every time I say the words, "Hang on, honey, just let me finish this," I cringe.
Does my daughter require my immediate and full attention every time she asks? Of course not. But finding the right line is awfully difficult, and my Motherly Guilt Complex seems to be the only thing that kicked in automatically upon her birth.
The plain truth is that I am still me.
I have adjusted, certainly. I manage to curb my language around her, and I can grit my teeth and say "Yum!" while feeding her eggs (eggs turn my stomach). But the greater personality traits, the habits I've spent a lifetime developing — well, they're all still here. The Mom title didn't arrive with any "How to Adult" manuals, so I'll have to keep trudging along as myself.
At least I flossed today.
This article was originally published at Ravishly. Reprinted with permission from the author.