Some days I think I used to have life together-better-in my pre-mom days. I got a glimpse of my pre-mom self. It made me wonder: Was becoming a stay-at-home mom worth it?

Welcome to Mom Motivation Mondays where weekly contributing writers share their motherhood experiences to encourage you to find the joy in being a mom.

{This week: Post by Kristin Helms}

It’s 6:30 AM and, like clockwork, I open the kitchen cupboard and reach for the box of Keurig coffee pods. As I try to piece together just exactly how many times my three-month-old son woke up last night, I realize I’m flinging my hand around inside of an empty box. The doomsday of the situation sinks in; we’re out of coffee.

My mind immediately jumps to the tried-and-true “plan B” when catastrophes like this happen, which is to pack up the kids in the stroller and walk down to our neighborhood coffee shop. I can assure you, it’s no coincidence that we live two blocks from such a place; that might have been the second question I asked the realtor when looking to buy our new house, “How far is the nearest coffee shop?” Because, you know – mom life!

My two-year-old daughter is in a mood when she wakes up and I know that breakfast is going to be a battle of the wills. I am right. After about 30-minutes of back and forth negotiations, she successfully has two bites of scrambled eggs, and five blueberries. I chalk it up as a win and help her down from the booster seat. Holding up to my end of the bargain, I let her watch fifteen-minutes of Sesame Street while I nurse the baby who’s been waiting ever-so-patiently for his breakfast.

After a minor tantrum ensues when I click the TV off, the three of us head upstairs for phase two of negotiations — picking outfits for the day. After I nix the tank top and tutu ensemble that happens to be my daughter’s first choice (it’s 52 degrees outside), we agree on leggings, cowboy boots, and a sweatshirt with a kitty cat printed on the front. The kitty cat on the front is a strategic move on my part – this child will do anything if there are kitty cats involved.

I continue to my son’s room where I quickly change him out of PJ’s and into a warm outfit, with little fuss on his part. We just might make it to the coffee shop after all!

I realize I’m still in the yoga pants I wore to bed the night before, but I can’t endure wasting another three minutes changing into actual clothes, when my morning coffee is so close in reach now!  I throw on my husband’s old college sweatshirt and my tennis shoes and buckle both kids into the stroller. I can smell the latte from here!

About half a block into the journey, my son starts to wail. Not a small, fussy cry, but a screaming bloody murder type of shriek. I shush him over and over and try to place the pacifier in his mouth as I pick up the pace. We will make it to get coffee, we must!

Quite the scene, I’m sure, we raid through the door of the coffee shop – my son still screaming and my two year old talking loudly over his cries, “Mama, ‘The Baby’ is crying!” My son being only three months new, my daughter only calls him by his name on occasion – as for now, he’s still, ‘The Baby’ that we brought home from the hospital a few months ago.

I take my son out of the stroller and begin to rock him back and forth as we stand in an unusually long line, full of business men and women who are decidedly, all on their way to work. A hint of my old, corporate life flashes through my head and memories of running in to grab my “non-fat vanilla latte” before making the commute downtown amuse me for a moment – some things never change. My son spits up all over my shoulder. And some things do.

As I’m rocking my son, I turn towards the front door of the shop where I see her for the first time – in the parking lot, stepping out of her sparkling white car, her perfectly curled, blonde hair flipped over one shoulder. I turn away but then do a double-take because she looks familiar.

I watch her erupt through the doors with a force of confidence that captivates me and most of the people in line. She’s on her phone, and while I can’t hear what she’s saying, I notice her trendy, dark gray colored gel manicured nails holding her phone and her perfectly pressed suit that screams “powerhouse.” Her pointed heels are high and in charge, making her much taller than I measure from my slouched, depleted body and tennis shoes.

As she gets closer, I’m able to make out the last thing she says into the phone, “Wonderful, I look forward to seeing you at the meeting tomorrow at 8.” As soon as she hangs up, she starts typing on her phone – some important email, no doubt – her two thumbs a blur of motion. I rack my brain where I might know her from but I can’t put my finger on it.

I order my latte and reach into my purse for my wallet while trying to juggle my son with one arm. His neck muscles aren’t completely strong enough yet, so his head is a little wobbly, and the simple task of paying the cashier feels like an unrehearsed fiasco. The cashier hands me back my credit card and catches a glimpse of the spit-up on my shoulder. “Ma’am you have a little something right…”

“Oh, I know – thanks! Napkins are over here, right?” With my son still fussing and my daughter now belting the ABC’s for all to hear, I begin to clean the spit-up off my shoulder while I wait for the barista to make my coveted coffee.

The business woman is now at the front of the line and when I hear her order a “non-fat vanilla latte”, it strikes me like a lightning bolt to the soul; she’s me. The five-years-younger, pre-baby me, that is.

She is my pre-mom self.

She fits the bill to a tee – shiny new car in the parking lot without cheerios in the seat cracks? Check. Perfect hair, nails and power suit with no sign of spit-up? Check. Exuding confidence and grace towards life in general? Yep, check.

I turn away from her, only to catch a glimpse of my present self in a reflection off one of the windows of the shop, and I suddenly wish I would have taken the extra three minutes that morning to brush my hair, put on a bra, or maybe even apply a little concealer.

I study my reflection for a few moments before turning my attention back to the woman — my pre-mom self. Nostalgia and melancholy wash over me. Just a few short years ago, I really had it all together – great job, fancy suits, impeccable hygiene – I was actually good at “life” back then. Have I really changed that much? Am I truly the same person – the one whose daily accomplishment is making it to the coffee shop and back in one piece? I felt myself falling down the rabbit hole, as I’ve done from time to time after deciding to leave the corporate world and stay home with my children. The dark hole that brings fleeting thoughts of regret, longing for adult interaction, wishing to feel important again.

As if on cue, my sweet two-year-old shouts, “I love mama!” and smiles her silly little grin up at me. The three words knock me back down to earth. I chose this new life because of her — I chose it because of the family that my husband and I wanted to raise, a family with a mother – me – who stayed home with her kids. This was the new me – sloppy, sleep-deprived, chipped nails and a full heart.

As my pre-mom self picked up her coffee and continued to pass us on her way out the door – on her way to her important corporate job — she paused, smiled warmly and said, “Your kids are adorable.”

I returned the smile, straightened my back, standing up a little taller before replying, “Thank you, I’m a lucky mama.”


What do you miss about your pre-mom self? Anything you are glad you left behind when becoming a mom? Share in the comments below.

Some days I think I used to have life together-better-in my pre-mom days. I got a glimpse of my pre-mom self. It made me wonder: Was becoming a stay-at-home mom worth it?

Kristin Helms of The Mommy Project San Diego.

Kristin is a mom to a beautiful baby girl, Miss B, and a new baby boy, Baby G. Pre-babies she worked in the corporate world doing marketing and public relations in the hotel business. She is now a stay-at-home-mom and freelance writer. She writes about all aspects of motherhood: Pregnancy, Mom Life, Baby Products She Loves, and other Fabulous Moms that she meets along the way on The Mommy Project, San Diego.

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