I am a hot mom.
Now before I lose you to the image of a mom with a kick-ass bod, wearing a blazer, cuffed boyfriend jeans and wedges, let me clarify. By hot, I mean hot mess. I am also quite literally always hot and sweating profusely, no matter the season. Come to think of it, most of all in winter because dressing children in all that gear is much like readying an army for an arctic expedition. I feel on the verge of losing my cool most days, and every day I lose my keys and my children’s pacis somewhere in the abyss of my purse. I am loaded down with too many blankies and so many babies. One of my sons has a bad habit of securing himself on my hip by clinging to the cup of my bra, which puts me dangerously close to having a Janet Jackson moment every time I hold him. The mediocre makeup I apply at 5:30 each day is nearly melted off by 6 o'clock, and let’s not even talk about the snot smears on my shoulder. Getting out of the house on time in the morning, or even at all, makes me feel like Rocky on the top of the steps, when in reality I’m crumpled in a heap one third of the way up the staircase trying to catch my breath.
My four kids are all young, and the largest difference in age between any one of them is 14 months. This phase of motherhood is intensely physical. After quietly observing my crew, a fellow mom, whom I had only just met, labeled my kids as "go kids." I agreed with her, but in my head I surmised that her remark was just a super polite way of saying “generally misbehaved." My children never stop moving. Ever. They are discontent adventurers, always seeking new toys, new places, new people, more snacks, more books, more climbing, more holding. Meanwhile, I am looking for the nearest cool breeze.
For a long time I was nervous about the stigma that was attached to being the hot mess mom. I don’t think we ever left our backyard one summer because I was too scared to take them out in public alone. What if they have a meltdown? I don’t have a stroller big enough to help us slink away unnoticed. What will the cool moms think of me? I even found myself becoming jealous of the moms with only one or two children. “How easy is that?” I scoffed. The self-inflicted isolation was a bit lonely, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make to save myself from public embarrassment.
One day I realized how ugly I had become, and not because of the applesauce in my hair or my smudged eyeliner. By staying in, I was depriving my kids of life lessons, growing experiences, and friendships with children other than their siblings. And worst of all, I was wishing them away.
As I often do when I’m feeling useless, I called my mom and asked, “How do I do the things a mom should do without looking like I have no idea what I’m doing?"
Her advice was revolutionary, annoyingly simple, and it’s changed my life.
“Honey, you just do it.”
So now I take my go-kids and we go. We walk to the park, and they scream because they have to go home for dinner. We go to the aquarium, and they whine for stuffed seals as we pass the gift shop. We go strawberry picking and leave with stained clothes because of the multiple tantrums that took place on the ground of the berry patch. We go to the dentist and cause a rambunctious scene in the waiting room and ignore the stares. We go on train rides and reposition and re-situate a thousand times. We go out for ice cream and bring extra wipes to clean up the inevitable spills. We go, and I look like a hot mess, and my babies get what their restless hearts need.
After leaving the park one day in our usual fashion, I had finally secured the last crying kid in their car seat when I looked upon a familiar scene. A mom with a messy minivan parked three spots away, with sweaty bangs that I’m sure looked great earlier in the morning, toting a collection of agitated toddlers that were too much to handle. She wore a harried expression, and I could tell she was ready for a nap. It was 10:30 a.m., but I’m sure she had been up for at least five hours. We exchanged knowing glances, and I felt proud of her.
Hey, hot mama, well done. I’ll save you a seat in front of the fan.
Guest post written by Lindsey Wyllys. Lindsey is a foster mom to four children under four living in the Chicago suburbs, actively learning to embrace her "Hot Momma" status. She is often found tripping over matchbox cars, lip syncing to Taylor Swift songs with her toddlers, and attempting to keep her house clean. She has been radically changed by adoption and loves how it demonstrates the redemptive power of love. She is sustained by cheap wine, a brave husband, solo trips to Target, and most of all, Jesus. You can find her on Instagram at LWyllys7.
Photo by Looking Glass Photography.