Maybe it’s because I’ve seen too many episodes of Rugrats, but one of the things I find myself saying frequently is, “A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.”
Of course, Tommy Pickles said, “A baby’s gotta do what a baby’s gotta do,” but the sentiment is the same. And honestly, it rings true for parents too.
There are plenty of things we do as parents that we wouldn’t necessarily do without the motivation our kids give us. Some of them are entirely ridiculous… Like eating dinner on the bathroom floor while Nolan showers. Before he was born I would never have believed I would do such a thing. Now? It happens at least once a week. If the boy who smells like a teenager is ready for a shower right as I’m sitting down to dinner, then dinner is suddenly portable. I mean, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.
Just a typical dinner on the bathroom floor with my favorite ginger dining companion...
And sure, there are the things we expect—like wiping hinders and noses or cleaning up an endless trail of crumbs. And the things we do when we need to but didn’t necessarily expect—like sneaking into your kid’s room after they’re asleep to trim their nails. Whatever it takes to just get the job done.
And there are the things we feel under qualified for… Like haircuts. Have I been to cosmetology school? No. Am I confident that I can give my offspring a haircut that won’t someday end up in an “Awkward Family Photos” book? Also no. But would I take my son to a professional in a salon where, surely, the full wrath of my upset autistic son would be on display? Still no—I don’t plan to subject anyone to Nolan at his most unhappy. Heck, if we can avoid that unhappy all together by me following him through the backyard or bathroom with a clipper in hand and reassuring voice, I’m happy to save him that distress. For real—a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.
I do find many times lately that these words pass through my thoughts it’s because things fall short of the high expectations that I sometimes set. Family meals are a great example. I may have in mind that I’m going to make a nice Sunday dinner for the family… by mid-day, I’ve often reevaluated that plan and instead of roasted chicken with vegetables and potatoes, I’m adjusting based on how much time and energy I have. Sometimes that nice family meal gets adjusted enough times that it looks like last night’s dinner—a frozen entrée reheated in the microwave with salad from a bag and garlic bread that I managed to burn the edges of. Heck, I’d even intended to make my Bucket of Bread so that we could have freshly baked bread, but instead I ended up broiling part of a loaf of bakery bread topped with butter, garlic and Parmesan cheese from a jar. It was nothing Martha Stewart would have approved of, but it got the job done. Heck, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.
And in our world, there are a lot of things that I seem to cope with using this line of thinking. Working a full day on less sleep than I actually need? Making additional or alternative food options just so that he’ll eat something decent? Working a full-time job plus trying to get a side-hustle up and running so that our budget can support our family’s needs? Learning to communicate with fewer words than most people could ever imagine using (including the words he uses his iPad to communicate)? Ordering fidget toys in bulk (and sometimes with express shipping)? A mom’s just gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.
And sometimes it’s in carving out 5-10 minutes for myself here or there… Whether that means staying up for a bit after everyone else is in bed just to have a little bit of time where my time is my own (as opposed to time where I’m working or doing things I need to accomplish at home) or wandering past the clearance end-caps in Target when I stop to pick up a prescription… Anything that will help me feel like a complete person or blow off enough stress to have a little more patience with my favorite teenager is important.
For me mostly, I feel like the things I need to do to keep my family (including myself) happy and healthy are the most important. If I don’t do the things that matter, they’ll likely not get done. So even if I’m compromising to save on my time or energy, it’s still getting done. Even if they’re things that I don’t necessarily want to do, I do them for our well being.
And no one is going to do it for me, so a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.