The other day I was sitting in traffic on my way home from an afternoon of errands, so hungry I could hardly focus on the road. My usual granola bar stash in the glove compartment had been depleted weeks ago and getting off the road to buy food would have taken more time than I had. Rather than opt for passing out, I found myself opening up a container of baby puffs and demolishing the whole thing before I got home. Yes, Baby puffs.
Though I’ve done all sorts of unexpected things I’ve done since I became a mom 15 months ago, this for some reason felt like a new low. Here I am a nutritionist, foodie, and personal chef who makes a living giving other people advice on how to eat well both at home and on-the-run…and I’m eating not just a few, but a whole container, of puffs. In my car.
I know you more experienced moms may be thinking: “You just wait. That’s nothing compared to _____.” And my point is not that this experience was that weird or terrible or even blog post-worthy. It was just a moment that made me feel like a real mom. Not one of those glamorous-looking moms with the well-dressed kids and designer stroller, but a real mom. The kind who is getting by, mostly happy, and in general devoting more energy to the needs of her children than to those of her own.
From what I can tell, a big part of feeling comfortable in motherhood is being able to hold yourself to a new (sometimes lower, or at least it feels that way) standard than you did in your old life. Comparing your Pre-Mom Self (tucked a sandwich on homemade bread into my purse for possible future hunger) to your Mom Self (eats baby food in the car) isn’t really fair, because it doesn’t account for all the work, time, energy, and love you’re putting into your kids — and just how much they’re benefiting.
Of course it’s hard to look at the bigger picture during the day-to-day bustle of motherhood. But next time I find myself snacking on puffs or doing something else I never dreamed I’d do, I’ll do my best to remember that it’s not a sign of failure, just a sign that my baby is getting a huge amount of my energy and attention right now. And in the scheme of life, that’s a very good thing.
Amelia Winslow is a nutritionist, food expert, new mom, and the founder of Eating Made Easy, a blog that makes healthy eating easier for busy people. She recently watched Amanda Ripley’s feature on PBS about Surviving Disaster, which inspired her to write this post.