It’s been a while since I brought both my babies home… Josh is 11, Luke now 6. Having more than a decade now under my belt as a parent, there are many things I’ve learned over that time. I’ve learned that it is the hardest job there is. You go from 24/7 caregiver to discipliner-in-chief, to playmate, teacher, you name it… Moms and Dads do it all.
That said, we can’t be there every moment and the hardest part is learning to let go a little, to give your kids the confidence and tools they need to be happy, well-adjusted, successful little people and then young adults.
For years I have dealt with “Mom Guilt,” as so many of us do. I love what I do for a living but the tradeoff sometimes involves traveling or being away from my kids. Granted, I’ve come to appreciate quiet evenings in a hotel room, binge-watching all the TV shows I missed during the week. But nothing beats being home surrounded by my boys. My kids don’t know any different, and actually I think secretly they love when I’m away because they get to be rowdy and make a big mess throughout the house.
What I wish I had known though goes back to the early toddler tantrum days. With Josh being my first, I had a really, really hard time. Some days he seemed to love our babysitter more than me. I remember one heartbreaking day when at just 2 years old, he literally ran out the door and after the babysitter and he told me, “No Mommy, go back.”
That’s when the Mom Guilt hits you right in the face like a cold, hard slap. Josh also seemed to love my husband more, which then made me resent my husband a little because he was always “good cop” to my “bad cop.” I’m being totally honest here, and I know many of you probably can relate.
They don’t mean it and don’t even know they are doing it, but kids break your heart into a million little pieces. I asked myself, “What am I doing wrong? Was I a good enough mother? Could I really do it all?” (Hardly, is the answer.) And mind you, I don’t travel quite as much as many parents do. I’m lucky to be home most nights of the week and my family always comes first. But early on, with a new baby and being new to the TODAY show, there was a lot of pressure on me to be everything to everyone and I worried I was paying the price at home.
So what did I learn? What every parent learns at some point -- it’s just a phase! Though a long and painful one that lasted almost a year. And there are many phases when raising a child. From the toddler tantrums to (someday soon) teen tantrums, I know now that through it all my kids love me with all their hearts, even though they don’t always show it. Josh now is the sweetest, most affectionate and sensitive child and whenever I get home from a trip, he is the first to come running to give me a big hug and kiss. Luke, on the other hand… well, it’s another phase… his video games sometime seem more important. But then he will look up and declare: “I love you, Mommy.”
And I know now, I’m being the best mom that I can be. And they know when they want hugs, kisses, cuddles, and someone who will always fight for them, there’s no one like mom.