Last week Arlo turned one. As part of this milestone, he had a doctor check-up on Friday.
During the check-up the doctor asked questions about how he’s doing: is he starting to walk, what does he do when I take him to the park… “Does he act interested in the kids around him? Does he seem excited, or like he wants to be running around with them?”
I said yes to all the park questions, but really I should have said I had no clue. The person she really should have asked was his nanny. Because the days I’m with him I sit inside on my computer and try to work as much as possible, and when I take him for a walk in the afternoon I always find errands I need to run and groceries we need to buy. On Saturdays we’re usually running more errands or finding places to go that the big people in the family will enjoy. And on Sundays we are at church, where he’s mostly with Dad.
And so in that moment at the doctor’s I felt like a bad mom. How could I not know how he responds to other kids at the park? Obviously that’s such an easy, common thing for moms to know. So common that my doctor could just throw it out there, along with updates on milk and eating.
I’ve thought about it a few times over the weekend. It’s weird how something so small and seemingly so harmless can really affect a person. How one quick question could stab so perfectly at an insecurity I wasn’t even aware I had.
Threw my brain for a loop, it did.
Instead of thinking about the the other hundreds of hours that same week that I’d prepped and fretted about his party, what gifts to get him for his birthday, if he had the right amount of socks for the winter… The fact I wrote an entire blog post over anxieties about the potential sugar content of his birthday cake. (For the record, we had a no sugar cake with sugary frosting. Because, honestly, I just couldn’t bring myself to put yogurt on a cake and pretend it was frosting.) I constantly take stock of his progress on walking, sign language and beginning words.
For the doctor appointment that very day I tried to make it pleasant for him with new snacks and books so that he wouldn’t be so stressed about being there.
But the thing that weighed on my mind all weekend was ideas how I could stop failing as a mom, by finding time to take my child to the park, so that I knew how he reacted to other children while there.
I’m sure this happens to all of us, and with other things besides mom things. I mean, I can’t even count all the times I’ve felt behind in life. Or how often I see published copy I’ve written and think to myself, “I wrote that? It looks horrible.” Just this blog alone I’ve edited countless times now, and I’ll still think of it for days wondering if I correctly portrayed my thoughts, or if it was useful for anyone to even read.
A lot of times when I start to think down (or I full on rant about something), Tyler tells me I get to rant, but afterwards I have to think of something positive. I used to get so annoyed because I was really feeling the momentum of my rant–and that just killed it. (Ermergersh, I just want to be negative!!) But more and more I’ve used it to switch my thoughts. Sometimes I don’t even think of anything positive, it just helps me stop thinking of the negative.
I’m sure I’ll still have times I feel like a horrible mom, or that I’m not doing things as good as all the other moms and career women out there. But instead of dwelling on that anymore… Arlo’s birthday party Saturday was full of bright colors and sprinkles, just as I’d planned! And Tyler made lots of yummy food to eat. Yay for small successes!
Also, as a perfect ending to this post, I got a few photos of him at the park today while I was at work. So now I know for sure–he loves it!