Hey, New Mom, Have You Considered Relaxing?

    Hello! I see you are a young mother caring for your young children, and for some reason you seem a little stressed. Perhaps it’s because your three-year-old just shattered a jar of enchilada sauce, and you are now kneeling on the floor of Aisle 3, frantically trying to pick up the shards of glass before your toddler puts glass shards in his mouth, all while wearing your three-month-old. Well, I am here to tell you, as a parent of adult children, that I was like you once—worried about every tiny thing that happened with my children, be it missing a violin lesson, omitting half the white sequins on my daughter’s homemade “Swan Lake” ballet costume, or letting my kids go in the ocean before teaching them to swim. But I want to impart to you the most important lesson that I learned in motherhood: just relax.

    Relax, instead of calling for a grocery-store employee to help you wipe up this oozing green liquid which your child is licking off the floor while screaming, “Too spicy!” Relax, and just let it go. Let it all go. The fact that school is once again cancelled because Lucas R. got COVID and you have no child care and have to attend a meeting this afternoon seated next to your child who will be watching “Bubble Guppies” on the couch but you’ll pretend that you are alone in your home office so that you don’t get fired. Cherish this moment! Cherish every moment! Cherish it now! These moments are fleeting, so you must enjoy them all. Also, while you’re at it, you should really take a moment to enjoy people telling you to relax and enjoy these moments.

    Be grateful for my sage advice, otherwise I will assume you are an uptight, cold, heartless mom who both works too much and spends too much time with her clingy children, somehow. If you aren’t flinging your laughing kids into the air, smiling, but, rather, spending your time trying to rebrand fish sticks as “French-fry fish” just to get your child to eat something, anything, for dinner, you’re not parenting correctly. Who cares if they eat! But that’s just my opinion. Mama, don’t listen to other people’s parenting advice. Ignore them! Except me. I’m correct in saying that you’re a good parent only if you’re putting in absolutely no effort but standing in silent awe as your three-year-old turns on the stove burners, using a Barbie camper van as a stool, because what creativity he has! Life is too short to stress about these things.

    When I look back at my parenting journey, I have regrets. I wish I didn’t waste so much time focussing on what other people thought of me. Which is why I’m here to tell you that if you expect your child to wear pants in a grocery store, you’re expecting way too much and I will judge you for it (but also will judge your half-naked children). Just let kids be kids! I know that your toddler screamed for half an hour at top volume this morning because his pants were “too panty,” which caused you to miss your thirteen-minute day-care drop-off slot—but try to relax, because the days are long but the years are so short. Shorter than his three-hour-a-day preschool, which is just enough time for you to either stop by your job, run errands, or wait for the Comcast guy to show up. Relax—it’ll all get done. Probably by you, after everyone else goes to bed.

    This is my gift to you: I’m releasing you from worrying about your kids entirely. If they don’t sleep, just let them not sleep. Why bother trying to make them do it if they don’t want to! I wish I’d just relaxed and spent my thirties letting my kids sleep in bed with me, grasping my hair with their sticky fingers, instead of trying to change their sleep habits. Honestly, it makes no difference to me whether or not you, a stranger in the supermarket, ever get any sleep. All I know is that it bothers me that you aren’t always in a Zen-like state of happiness every time you are with or talk about your children.

    Who cares that a year of child care costs more than you make annually, so you’re going into debt just to keep your job until your kids reach public-school age? Who cares that any time you attempt to take your child on public transit, someone posts a Twitter rant about how toddlers shouldn’t be allowed out of the house and gets fourteen thousand likes? Motherhood is a gift! Let them have the ice cream, for goodness sake. Let them bring it in the car! Ignore the tantrum that inevitably ensues when the ice cream falls into the crevice you didn’t know existed between the car seat and the middle-seat buckle. Better yet, just relax about it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a mother it’s that after six or seven professional detailing sessions, dairy comes right out of minivan upholstery, so there’s no need to fret. Enjoy the ride. ♦

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