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Published May 12, 2014, 06:21 PM

Parenting Perspectives: I’d rather enjoy my child than worry about being ‘that mom’

A friend of mine posts a picture of her baby on Facebook every day. In each one, the infant is perfectly dressed and has an adorable smile on her face. “How the heck do you get your kid to sit so well for pictures?” I finally posted on one last week.

By: Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft, INFORUM

A friend of mine posts a picture of her baby on Facebook every day. In each one, the infant is perfectly dressed and has an adorable smile on her face.

“How the heck do you get your kid to sit so well for pictures?” I finally posted on one last week.

The response came to my Facebook inbox: a flood of outtakes from one of the daily photo sessions – baby screaming, baby moving away from the camera, baby spitting up on herself.

“It takes a while to get the good shot to share,” the mom wrote me. She spends about half an hour to an hour every day on the photo shoot, she said.

I’m definitely not that mom. My Facebook photos of my daughter are more along the lines of “Check it out – Callie got stuck in this box” or “Does anyone else think Callie looks like Bat Boy?” or “She pulled this hat over her head and can’t get it off, so she’s just spinning in circles bumping into things.”

Yes, there are pictures of her being generally adorable, but that’s not the focus of my parenting life. Our life is messy, silly and weird, and I won’t bother hiding that. I’m not the mom who puts on an adorable show and pretends everything’s perfect.

I’m not the mom who dresses up my little princess and puts bows on her head. My baby only has two dresses, both of them gifts, and when I wanted her to look nice for family photos, I didn’t put her in either of them. Instead, she wore her Wonder Woman costume, complete with cape.

I’m not the mom who changes her baby’s outfit the second it gets dirty. My daughter is a messy eater, and you can tell when you meet her because little remnants of her past few meals may still be on her shirt (or, yes, occasionally trapped under one of her chins).

I’m not the mom who wants everyone to tell me how precious my baby is. She’s darn cute and I love her a lot, but she’s also a holy terror, and I willingly admit that I sometimes feel her life goal is to see how far she can push my patience.

I’m not even the mom who wants her daughter to look adorable. Instead of splurging on cute clothes for her, I buy her Batman costumes and temporary tattoos.

I’m not the mom who works hard to seem like I’m a “good mother.” I do my best to be a good mom, but sometimes my kid gets stuck to a glue trap when I leave the room for a second. And when she does, I take a picture of it so I can laugh about it more in the future.

I’m not the mom who selflessly gives to her kid all the time at the cost of herself. Money is tight in our family now, and my husband and I aren’t going to live on ramen so we can buy our daughter things beyond her needs.

She has enough to eat and enough hand-me-down clothes to keep her from having to go naked, and that’s good enough for us. She has toys she’s gotten as gifts, and she prefers to play with empty cardboard boxes or juice bottles anyway. Even as our financial situation improves, I don’t see us buying her much she doesn’t need.

I’m never going to be “that mom.” Being a parent is exhausting enough without putting so much work into appearances or doing things I “should” be doing, rather than what feels right for my family.

I want to spend my time enjoying my child, not worrying about if I’m being “that mom” I’m supposed to be. So far my daughter is happy and healthy, so it seems to be working out for us. Even if my baby doesn’t have a glamorous Facebook album.


Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft is a page designer at The Forum. She lives in Moorhead with her husband and their daughter, Calliope. She can be reached at astrnad@forumcomm.com. Her daughter can be found on Twitter on www.twitter.com/lilmisscalliope.

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