I followed my daughter up the steps on the bright yellow playground equipment and watched as she toddled in front of me. She giggled and explored each new section we came to, whether it included a tunnel or a life-size game of Tic Tac Toe. I heard my son squeal with joy as he played tag with some kids and I felt relaxed knowing that I could spot him at any given moment from being an extra five feet or so off the ground.
I did take note of the fact that I was the only mom at the playground hovering over my little one. In my defense, she had just turned 1 so I wanted to make sure she was safe. But at the same time, I could have stepped back and let her explore some areas by herself—ones that were much closer to the ground.
Every time a kid screamed I worried that it was my son or that another child got hurt because my son was playing too rough. I would immediately peek over the edge of the playground equipment to see what was going on, while my heart raced.
I wish that I could be a “chill mom,” but it’s not really part of my personality. I wish that I could just breathe, relax, sit back and watch my kids experience the world around them on their own terms, but I can’t. And more and more, I see moms around me begin to adopt this sense of chill—to me, it’s more exhausting to pretend not to care so much than it is to just be myself.
When you become a mom, you almost have to get used to all these labels that come with it. While we’re all just trying to be the best parents that we can be, we’re also trying to fit into molds society places on us. Despite knowing all labels are silly, it doesn’t stop the endless conversations about the type of mom we are and the kind of parenting we practice—it’s inevitable. During a recent trip to my hometown, where I was wrangling our children alone while my spouse was away, I heard the words, “just relax” more times than I could count and I realized that I am so not that chill mom that I thought I was.
Perhaps it was the whole flying solo thing that made me particularly high-strung this past month, knowing that I was balancing all parenting duties with my workload and traveling alone. Maybe it overwhelmed me? But the pressure to be a “chill mom” was on, and I wasn’t fitting the bill.
If I really take a cold, hard look at myself, I’m more chill in certain environments—ones that I’m much more familiar with. I wish that I could take a step back sometimes, and while I’m definitely not on the helicopter end of the spectrum, there are moments when I wish I could, in every sense of the word, chill. My mind is always racing with the “what ifs” and instead of relaxing in so many situations, I’m on edge.
Then, during the train ride home—the easiest transportation for us so that I could work while the kids could still move their wiggly legs up and down the spacious aisles—I looked at my children and I realized that I’m just the kind of mom they need. I think that if I had chill kids, then I could be a chill mom. But the truth is that my kids are a bit more on the rambunctious side and need a parent to make sure they aren’t too curious, too loud or get into too much trouble.
In that second, I decided that I needed to just do away with this silly mindset and focus on what my kids need in the moment, because that’s a label that I can handle.
Written by Allison Cooper for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.
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