Friday, March 15, 2013

In the Trenches

I was the most amazingly incredible Mom...

...and then I actually had kids.

Prior to actually being a Mom, I knew exactly how to be an amazingly incredible Mom.  I had everything worked out.  My kids would always be calm and polite, be served only the healthiest of meals, respond positively and thankfully to all of the parental wisdom I would impart on them, and most definitely never throw a tantrum in a public place.  If I ever was going to write a book, I should have done it before having kids because I had all the answers then.  It was so very easy when everything was hypothetical, and the children I was "raising" were imaginary.  

And then I had real, live children I was really responsible for living in my house.  All the time.  And all of those "answers" went out the window.  

I was now "in the trenches."

I love this sentiment, as it was so beautifully and genuinely illustrated in one of my all-time favorite shows, Parenthood.  We started watching it OnDemand shortly after my daughter was born.  I think it is the only show I can honestly say that I've seen every single episode of.  I could write an entire post (or two or three...) about how much I love it -- the dialogue, the acting, the storylines -- but I will cut it short here.  If you don't watch it, you need to.  Google it.  Start watching it online.  Like right now...this post will be here when you get back, I promise.

The "in the trenches" line comes up in one of my very favorite honest mom-to-mom parenting scenes.  I'll paraphrase, which is a horrible, horrible injustice to the show.  (For real, you need to watch it.)  Anyway, here's my weak attempt to relay a quick summary of the scene.

Julia comes to Kristina and is seeking advice on how to help motivate her son to do his homework.  You're expecting to be privy to this insightful, deep, philosophical wise parenting conversation that is about to occur between sister and sister-in-law.  The next thing you see is Kristina ducking below her kitchen counter and pulling up a huge tub, full of containers of all shapes and sizes filled with candy.  The conversation goes something like this... 

"Two words: incentive system.  Homework done?   Five gummy bears.  Room picked up?  Two Twizzlers.  Trash out?  Six M & Ms.  And don't you feel guilty.  Don't you feel guilty for one second.  You are in the trenches.  You gotta do what you gotta do."

The thing I love about this scene is how it sums up how we all have these things that we never, ever though we'd ever do as parents.  Why?  Because our hypothetical, imaginary children would never (fill in the blank).    

Sorry to say, but oh yes they will.  And then some.  Any my kids are still little...yikes...

And you will pull your hair out trying to figure out what to do.  When you are in the trenches, all bets are off.  You just have to figure out what works best for you and your child and your family in that moment, and sometimes that means compromising your previously "perfect" parent ideals.  

Don't you feel guilty.  Not for one second.  You are in the trenches.

Ultimately, whatever decision you make and whatever course of action you take is coming from a place of love.  That is what really matters.  We are so hard on ourselves and put so much pressure on ourselves to do "the right thing," somehow thinking there is only one "right thing."  The truth is, every child, every parent, every situation is different.  There are a million and one different "right things."  

The person in the checkout line giving you a dirty look as your child starts whining and crying and you frantically look for Goldfish Crackers in your diaper bag has no idea what your day has been like up to that point.  Don't you feel guilty.  Not for one second.  You are in the trenches.  

The person at the playground who looks at you condescendingly as you pick up the pacifier off the ground, wipe it off and hand it to your kiddo is not in charge of your child's health and well-being.  Don't you feel guilty.  Not for one second.  You are in the trenches.  

The person who rolls their eyes as you try to calm and quiet your crying baby at church with every toy, gadget, and set of car keys that are now being shoved in baby's mouth doesn't have any idea how much it took to get everyone up and out the door that morning.  Don't you feel guilty.  Not for one second.  You are in the trenches.  

You are in the trenches, day in and day out, and you are doing an amazingly incredible job.  You are not perfect.  You are not supposed to be.  That went out the window the second that child came into your life.  Where is the fun in that, anyway?  Given the choice of perfect parenting ideals or being in the trenches, I'll take trenches with my family every single time.  

Trust yourself; trust your decisions.  Don't you feel guilty.  Not for one second.  You Are a Good Mom.


  1. Carrie, you are doing such a wonderful thing here with these posts. I thank you even tho I am not a current-kid-at-home-mom, I AM a nanny to a three month old baby boy and I know that I am doing a very good job. Your blog helps me immeasurably with Burp. (his name's Wyatt and he's a barfer-hence the nickname)

    You are a good mom, too, Carrie, incase no one told you that recently, I want to say it. You are a good mom and a good bloggess.

    1. I truly appreciate your kind words and taking time to leave a comment! And that nickname makes me laugh...

  2. Oh, I just love your first line! I can totally, totally relate. I *knew* exactly what kind of mom I would be, and I am not even close.

    1. I bet you are even better. You are YOUR KID'S Mom, and that is the very best Mom there is. :) It's so much easier to "know it all" before you have kids yourself! :) Thanks so much for leaving a comment!

  3. Love love love this! And the entire idea of your blog. Isn't Mom Guilt the worst? No matter which way I go, I am sure to second-guess myself!!!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words! I appreciate you stopping by, reading and leaving a comment!!

      Mom Guilt stinks...seems like we're always trying to fight against it. It's good when we can help each other out and be reassuring. :)


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