My chill mom philosophy started as a joke and then became a real strategy for how I handle the never-ending stresses of motherhood.
“I’m not a regular mom, I’m a chill mom!” I must have said this 4,000 times while I was pregnant. The reality is that I couldn’t be farther from “chill.” Generally speaking, yes, but definitely as a mom-to-be and then as a mom. I’m already such an uptight person that the last thing someone would describe me as is chill. Yet I kept saying it. As a joke. I’m a chill mom, I’m a chill mom, I’m a chill mom. It became my mantra really, especially when I found myself in a stressful situation. It’s fine, I’m fine, everything is fine… I’m a chill mom.
I will admit that definitely at first, I was trying to make myself less high strung so as not to annoy everyone around me. The people pleaser in me knew I would be seen as annoying if I had a million requests and preferences for the baby. I was adopting this “chill mom” persona for other people…. but the person who benefitted the most from it, surprisingly, ended up being me. (And also Jack.)
Worrying is part of the DNA of being a mom, in my opinion, but it can go too far. And knowing my tendency to stress out about, well, everything, I knew I would take it too far.
Babies are unpredictable. Life with a child is curveball after curveball. It’s messy. And stressful. And so much of it is out of your control. For a Type A 30-something year old woman with serious control issues, this could have been a recipe for disaster. I know myself, and I know that my anxieties and quirks and whatever you want to call them, could make motherhood an absolute nightmare for my friends and family, yes, but also my child and ultimately myself.
I’ve always wanted to be a mom and, as cliched as this sounds, I do believe it’s my life calling. A fear of mine, though, was that I wouldn’t be able to get out of my own way to enjoy it. Would I be able to see the joy beneath the mess? Would I be able to feel the wonder underneath the constant worry?
As a “chill mom,” I can honestly say I see the joy and feel the wonder. The mess is still there and the constant worry really is constant…. but with my “chill mom” attitude, I can work past this.
It’s the ultimate fake-it-til-you-make-it. The biggest thing is that it’s a choice I make daily– if not hourly. My natural inclination is to be rigid and not deviate from the schedule, to avoid the mess at all costs, and to protect my child by any means necessary. But it’s no way to live for myself– and I would be robbing my baby of a happy and healthy childhood, which is the one thing I so desperately want to give him!
This isn’t to say that I have no rules or guidelines or that I intentionally want risky or dangerous situations. It’s just to say, I allow space for things to not go exactly as planned, for things to be messy, and for life to unfold without my white-knuckle grip holding it back.
And this isn’t to say that it’s necessarily easy either. It’s not. But I know we’re all better off for it. To watch Jack play in the dirt with abandon. To drop him off at the gym nursery with his favorite caretakers so I can have a little sliver of time for myself. To watch him learn how to climb a new piece of equipment at the park. To spend an extra 20 minutes with his cousins instead of rushing home for a strict nap time.
When things go wrong; when there’s dirt and paint and scrambled eggs and crumbs (oh my god so many crumbs) everywhere, when he’s falling asleep off schedule or ahead of schedule or behind schedule… I inflate lungs with air, I release the air and relinquish control, and remind myself (sometimes through gritted teeth), “I’m a chill mom.”