In honor of Mother’s Day I decided to launch a new series on my blog called, “Bad Ass Moms.”
I have a keen eye for moms who have their “you know what” together in public and when I spot what I like to call a “Bad Ass Mom,” it’s like a beam of light that sucks me in. I can’t help but stop, introduce myself and ask about their Bad Ass-ity.
Let me introduce you to a Bad Ass Mom:
Claire wears a superwoman cape every day. The cape is invisible to her, though everyone one who comes within a 500-foot radius can see it. Claire has five kids — TWO sets of twins and a singleton, which means she doubled down….Twice.
I first spotted Claire at a local park when I was a new mom to just one toddler. Pregnant Claire pulled up in her Bat Mobile (I mean minivan) and unloaded her two sets of preschool-age twins. Every mom in that park’s jaw dropped as we watched her every move–trying to soak up her awesomeness because Claire manages her crew like a boss.
Honestly, I didn’t speak to Claire that day. I didn’t even know how to approach her–I had so many questions and didn’t even know where to start. It wasn’t until several years later that I ran into her again, after I had a set of twins of my own. This time I booked across the room, introduced myself and asked her if she could write me a manual on motherhood. It was the first time I had officially met her. I asked her loads of questions and this is what she said:
Q: If you wrote a book on motherhood, what would you title your first chapter?
A: “This is the beginning or the end, it just depends on the day.”
Before our first twins came on the scene I had MONTHS of bedrest, preterm labor and several scares when we thought the babies were going to arrive much too early. Time stood still when all I wanted was for it to fly. I just wanted healthy babies! Fast forward to the weeks and months after Eleanor and Noah were born and I thought to myself, “This. Is. Awful! Why did I not appreciate those months of rest?!” And then we loved them so much we had more twins. And even another baby (oops!). And while at the time it felt very much like that beginning of our life as a family, I realize now it was also the end of our time as a couple pre-kids (in the best way). It was truly the end of my youth and beginning of actual adulthood.
Q: What is the best parenting advice you ever received?
A: “Relax,” everyone told me. Yeah, easier said than done, but it’s true. It’s so easy to get stressed about the missed nap, the three precious ounces of spilled breastmilk or the perfect outfit for the Fourth of July. But in the grand scheme, it’s really just a blip on the radar screen of life.
Q: What is the worst parenting advice you ever received?
A: “Enjoy every second because they grow up so fast!” Telling that to a mom with one-year-old twins AND four-year-old twins AND a newborn baby is the dumbest thing any human has ever said. Yet I heard it a lot!
Q: What parenting advice do you have for new moms?
A: Throw your expectations out the window and just BE however you can. Your dreams of a little girl who lets you French braid her hair and gladly wears twirly skirts will almost certainly result in a daughter who refuses to even wash or brush her hair and hates dresses. That nightly family dinner you plan may never happen as your second baby may refuse solid foods until he’s well over one and your husband may end up working late anyhow.
I’ll yell it from the rooftops: LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS FROM THE START!
Q: When you had your second set of twins, did you learn any new tricks?
A: Yes! I got myself a cordless pump and never looked back. I pumped while I drove, while I met with friends (under a hooter hider, mind you) and everywhere in between!
Also, with the first set of twins (boy/girl), I didn’t dress them in matching outfits. And to be honest, I always found it a wee-bit weird when same-sex twins were always matching. And then I had my second set of twins (two boys) and suddenly matching clothing made it much easier to keep track of baby clothes. Even better, as they got older and choose their own clothes, I would just buy two of everything to avoid battles over favorite shirts or pants! They were matching daily for a solid few years. And despite what that snarky preschool teacher (who had ONE child, mind you) told me, their individuality didn’t suffer one bit.
Q: When your kids were little, what was your secret to going out in public?
A: I found that taking two newborns out in a double stroller made everyone come “ooh” and “aah” thereby adding a solid hour to any excursion. So the second time around, I put one baby in a stroller and one baby in a sling and I was much more mobile and could go about my business without much fanfare!
Q: Have you ever had a moment where you really had to dig deep as a mom?
A: I dig deep weekly. Sometimes daily. It’s always nice to hear other moms say, “You’re amazing, I don’t know how you manage it all.” But I’m always quick to say, “It’s a pony show most days. It’s ugly. And messy. And I want to head for the hills sometimes!” But in the end, these are my kids. And together with my husband, they are our whole [completely and totally imperfect] life. And while a full-time nanny and a long vacation sometimes sounds like the best thing in the world, I wouldn’t choose any other job in the world.
Q: What is your all-time favorite mom gadget or product?
A: The BabyComfy Nasal Aspirator – The Snotsucker, changed my life with my second set of twins. My then two-year-old twins had nasty colds when I brought our tiny preemie boys home from the hospital, and of course the newborns caught it. Thanks (I think) to breast milk, they weren’t nearly as sick as they could have been. But I sucked so many baby buggers out that I almost certainly lost brain cells. I needed those tiny noses clear so they could eat and SLEEP!
In related news, I guess the immunity those tiny babies got from my milk made the HOURS I spent either on the couch nursing and pumping worth it. To be honest, the verdict is still out on that one as it was So. Much. Work.
My second favorite product has to be the miracle of white-noise sound machines. All five kids (plus my husband and I) STILL use them nightly. Amen for the invention of the white-noise app. Before that we relied on hotel radio noise static when we traveled.
Q: What is your most Bad Ass Mom moment?
A: Hmmmmm…. The day we got home from the hospital with our fifth baby my husband had to leave on a business trip for several days. At the time, our older twins were four and little twins were one. I successfully handled the five of them for our first few nights at home…. And we all lived!
Q: This might sound weird, but I have marveled at you for years. You don’t take life too seriously and can roll with it like it was your original plan. In short, you are Bad Ass. Do you feel like a Bad Ass Mom?
A: Bad Ass Mom? Perhaps. Though I more often feel like a half-ass mom. But don’t we all? Adulting and Momming is hard sh*t. I think accepting that nothing will be perfect and that we can’t always tie things up perfectly with a bow is the most important thing any mom can do.
Thank you, Claire for entertaining us with your words of wisdom and Bad Ass-ity.