The Wrong Gene

My children with their own ice cream.

Ever hear a mom say that she doesn’t mind getting up four times a night for feedings, or say that she doesn’t believe in raising her voice when shit hits the fan at home? She may tell you she has THE MOM GENE. She’ll say this and you’ll nod knowingly. She loves being a mom. She LOVES IT!

Does she feel the incredible amount of societal pressure put upon us moms to proclaim that we were put on this earth to mother? Maybe. But she is letting you know that she’s great, everything is fine, it’s all under control. She has The Mom Gene, she’s made for all things parent.

I hate this, The Mom Gene. The implication is that you’re not good enough if you don’t tell people you love it, and provide examples of sacrificial acts (like getting the most amazing ice cream for yourself and trading it for a half-eaten, melted vanilla because someone spies yours and suddenly NEEDS it, and you hand it over). It also implies that those who don’t like mom things aren’t good parents.

I love my children. They love me back (pretty sure). I make the best decisions I can for them with the skills and knowledge that I have, hoping they can make good decisions when they have the opportunity to do so. All I want is for them to be happy, successful, and own homes with an in-law suite for me when I’m old.

Mom things I am not good at: Playing Barbies. Sitting on the couch and doing nothing else but watching kid TV. Playgrounds. Patience. Controlling my anxiety when I hear, “Guess what? We decided to get the paint and Sharpies out while you were in the shower, so come into the living room and sit on the new couches when you’re dressed!”

Mom things I am good at: Organizing and cleaning a room when children are actively using it. Scheduling appointments, practices, games, playdates. Reading. Cleaning paint and Sharpie off of things. Laundry. Dispensing vitamins.

I’m still a good mom even if I have no interest in participating in a complicated made-up game that combines hopscotch, tag, costume changes, and Uno cards. I’m still a good mom when I measure the days in fifteen minute increments because the thought of making it twelve hours to bedtime is overwhelming.  I’m still a good mom if I tell my child they can have a taste of my ice cream but they can finish the half eaten vanilla cone and, next time, I will help them choose something different.

My Mom Gene may be a bit different, and not just because I immediately think of high rise denim. I celebrate my parenting strengths and occasionally see opportunity in my weaknesses. It’s ok to naturally be an operational, logistical mom.  

When I feel that pressure to show The Mom Gene, I don’t pretend everything is fine, that I LOVE this all the time. There is a lot of hard work and stress mixed in with the joy of mothering. To not outwardly acknowledge how tiring this can be perpetuates the pressure to have The Mom Gene, and continues to make moms who don’t like tea parties feel inferior.

Next time you see a mom talking about The Mom Gene, pull her aside and tell her it’s ok if hers looks different. Then, get her an ice cream cone she won’t have to share.

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