First, by way of an intro, I need to make a confession:

Before having kids, I thought I was going to “do” motherhood perfectly. It would be challenging, of course, and probably character-building — but it wouldn’t be difficult to at least appear outwardly put-together, as a family. I mean, how hard could it be to teach kids decent manners and to dress them in clothes that couldn’t double as pajamas?

Famous last words — motherhood is hard. Your time, emotions, energy, and finances get stretched beyond capacity. Perhaps you’ve found this, too? Some things have to fall off the edges. And sometimes those things are … appearances.

I didn’t understand how drastically my priorities would shift after having kids. I had one friend whose kids were always wearing sweatsuits. I looked at them and swore to myself that I’d be dressing my future kids with a bit more style.

But now that I have children, my daily concerns are more practical — getting dinner on the table, kicking one kid’s whining habit, making sure another is thriving in school, and keeping myself balanced and sane — not attaining all my ideals of lifestyle perfection.

And those very sweatsuits I had criticized? They became hand-me-downs to our family … and my kids happen to love them.


for the pregnant woman at the supermarket

Resolve to always
feed them brain food
brimming with nutrients
and visual appeal.
Resolve to handpick
those foods with care,
as you glide through the aisles
of the grocery store,
aided by your polite progeny.
Resolve that you will never —
when the day comes —
raise the sort of children
who shun coordinated outfits,
like adorable corduroys
with wool pullovers,
in favor of worn t-shirts
and sweatpants
with stretched-out

Go ahead,
make your resolutions —
I did.

But later on,
if you find yourself
in the potato chip aisle
while two children
dangle from your cart
like a pair of monkeys,
with ill-fitting sweats
flapping at their ankles—
you have permission
to stop where you are,
to rest your head on the handlebar,
to collapse in a wheezing fit
of silent laughter—
and then, from the floor
by the tubs of pretzels,
you may, like me,
make a new resolution:
that you will never again
judge your fellow mother.

© Sarah Dunning Park, 2013. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Did you envision yourself as a certain kind of parent? How have you changed your goals since becoming one?