Mommy Zombies: 4 Motherhood Misconceptions I Had Before Becoming One

Daphne and I sleeping on a trip when she was only a few months old. Before we committed to co-sleeping at home too.
Daphne and I sleeping on a trip when she was only a few months old. Before we committed to co-sleeping at home too.

Before I had Daphne, and long before I was trying to conceive, I used to refer to most of the moms I knew as mommy zombies. 

These were the moms who posted photo, after photo, after freaking photo, of their newborn just laying their, staring bug eyed at the camera, an alien in a human world.  Yes, I used to think that newborn babies resembled aliens. I still kind of do, to be honest, except that now they, all of them, make my heart swoon in their not-of-this-world newness, in their perfect innocence.

These were the moms with whom I once discussed world events and workouts, now cutting our conversations short because of crying, so much ANNOYING crying in the background, interfering with whatever important stuff I had to stay about my latest barre workout.

I’d be like, “And then the teacher had us go into pretzel and -”

“Waaaaah,” a baby would cry, stifling what was sure to be a ground breaking discussion about the benefits of barre on my back fat.

“Sorry, gotta go,” my friend would say, and I’d think total mommy zombie.

These were the moms with the greasy hair, the diaper bag as their purse, and the worn in ballet flats.

These were the moms with the un-manicured nails and the dark circles under their eyes.

These were the moms I swore I’d never become, back before I could commit to anything beyond getting out of bed for work in the morning and maybe a workout class after.

Even after my battle with infertility humbled me, I still had all these pretty little ideas  about motherhood, about what kind of parent I would be, and about what kind of household I would run. There was no way was going to let myself go, stop working out regularly, or let my kid eat gluten. There was no way that I was going to be a mommy zombie either. Right. 

Here are some of the misconceptions I had about myself, and what life would be like after I gave birth to my own little alien. I sometimes can’t believe how out of touch I was with what life would life be like after baby, and also how judgmental I was about those who blazed a trail toward parenthood before I did.

Mommy Zombie Misconception #1: My baby would NEVER sleep in bed with me.

I had already made the mistake of letting my dogs share the bed with my husband and I, certainly I would NEVER allow my child to further interrupt our marital bliss after making that tragic mistake. I would sleep train the %^&T out of my baby. Crying, bah. I would have that baby sleeping in her crib by three months old for definite. And I would never co-sleep. Sure I was crunchy, but not that crunchy. Children belonged in cribs.

14-months later I get kicked in the head nightly by a toddler foot, and growled at by a dog who wants more room at least three times a week. The stench of four types of farts – from my husband, a sick dog, an overweight one who eats everything, and a baby who loves beans – make for quite the olfactory experience. (Notice how I said four types of farts, not five? Me – the fifth bed sharer – never farts. I am perfect.)

For me, co-sleeping isn’t about what I think is best for babies or development or the future of our species – because let’s be honest, no one really knows. For me, co-sleeping is about sanity and survival. It’s about the fact that my daughter has puked the two times I’ve tried sleep training. It’s about how much easier breastfeeding is to have her close. It’s about how much better I sleep when she’s next to me, despite the nightly face checks, and bean smells. I miss her when she hasn’t made it into our bed yet, I really do.

But mothers who did and do sleep train – more power to you.  Just because I couldn’t do it, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. Some of the happiest kids I know never once shared a bed with their parents. Some of the happiest kids I know did until age 5.

Misconception #2: Gluten-free, organic, local, and paleo brainwashing by age 0.

Okay, so I’m a weirdo who gets excited about nutrition science and theories. I’m also the kind of person who believes food plays a big part in how we feel and the diseases that manifest. At one point in time, I was desperate to find relief from my endo symptoms, so when a doctor told me to read Wheat Belly, and go gluten-free, I jumped off the bread truck with passionate abandon. Same goes with the organic, farm to table movement. I believe.

I also believe that the occasional french fry won’t kill you.

And croissants. Every kid (and adult) should get to sometimes eat croissants.

Then there was that time Daphne got a fever for a few days and lost a few pounds. I spent the next two weeks after that trying to get her to eat EVERYTHING. I made baby size cheesecake bites. I shoveled pasta, with extra gluten, into her mouth by the fork full. I even bought some of those terrifying cheese doodle things that come in a can that you get from Walmart. (She wouldn’t eat them and the dogs wouldn’t either).

My point: I used to judge families I’d see feeding their babies chicken nuggets.  Until, of course, I had a baby of my own, and realized sometimes that’s all a kid will eat. Sometimes you just don’t have time to prepare anything real, whole, organic, and amazing. Sometimes a can of soup is quick and convenient and makes it so that you have a little more time for loving that baby of yours. Food is important to me, and yes, I believe it should be to everyone. But the small glimpse I get of your grocery cart in line at Walmart, isn’t a window into your soul. We’re all mamas (those of us with kids anyway haha), and for the most part, we’re all just doing the best we can with the parenting circumstances we’ve been given. Kraft Mac and Cheese and all. There are always better choices, but sometimes we don’t know about them or can’t make them.

Misconception #3: No TV, phones, or computers for baby EVER. Because Brain Development.

Even after Daphne was born, I clung onto this one tightly, swooping the cell phone out of her 8-month old hands like she was holding a bomb about to detonate. And then something happened. She became a toddler. An alien with wants, lots of them. The chap stick on the desk? She must have it. The keyboard I’m typing on? That too. There are just so many dishwasher unloading battles you can have before you need a little help from Big Bird and his friends. (My daughter is no longer content to help take the forks from the silver ware holster, she wants to be one with the dishwasher. She wants to live in there.)

Surely a little Sesame Street and Nature Channel won’t stop  a brain from growing. So, yes, we sometimes turn the TV on with our child in the room. We sometimes even sit her down right in front of it and walk way. Gasp. In between reading a billion books a day of course.

SUV passing on the freeway with DVD of Disney lighting up the inside, I owe you an apology. Pre-motherhood I may have judged you, mumbling something about literature, about books, about all the road trip games we would play when we were kids, to my husband, as we whirred past, ignorant and childless. All of our talk about the rotten state of the brains these days, because iPads and Androids? Never again shall I condemn you electronic devices, or SUV driver, or parent with the Angry Birds savvy 3-year old.  Road trips, doctors visits, and even grocery store outings with young sick/cranky/teething/tantrumy children sans light up, make noise devices might be my idea of hell now that I am a parent who must endure them.

Misconception #4: No zombie under eye circles for this mommy. 

This one makes me laugh the most, because my vanity started it’s slow painful death in pregnancy and I didn’t even realize it was happening. Morning sickness made me abandon my fitness blog and in person fitness endeavors until the second trimester, but by then I was getting too big to comfortably waddle my way to a workout class. Then there was my hair and nails. I was too freaked out about the fumes to continue my regular mani/pedis and highlights. Thank God I was growing a baby around the time the ombre look was solidifying itself as a thing.

My fitness routine resurfaced during some of D’s first year, but it was more like a baby turtle poking it’s little snout out for air then it was a dolphin leaping up and out of the water. I’d fit in the occasional video or stationary bike ride, I’d wear make-up if I’d leave the house, sometimes, but there wasn’t much house leaving after I quit my job as a private investigator. Not until recently. For me the first year was about nesting, and nurturing, not which under eye treatment could make me look well rested, or which boutique fitness class I could squeeze in before Sunday brunch.

And fashion? Forget about it. My body was changing shape and slowly. My old clothes didn’t fit until recently, and even some of them still don’t, which meant I wasn’t going to invest in anything beyond an elastic waist band. And while I’ve had some events over the past year that have required heels, I now actually prefer my flat sandals and ballet slippers. Even wedges don’t make sense when you’re chasing after a walk/running mini person who just wants to get to it all as fast as she can.

Before Daphne, I judged people’s parenting choices and I shouldn’t have.

Mom’s who came before me, tired looking, and with unwashed hair, now I understand. I’m sorry I scoffed at our abrupt conversations. I’m sorry I called you mommy zombies. Now if I ever use that term again, it will because I’m describing myself. 14-months later I’m getting my body and my beauty back one day at a time, but I still have a long way to go.

Am I alone here? Did anyone else have things they swore you’d never do before having kids, but now do them?

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13 comments

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  1. Ina Library

    Steph, I enjoyed this post so much! I was laughing and crying! Everything you said is so relatable and genuine. I recall having many of your same thoughts, especially the ones about food and TV. We need to keep our sanity as Mamas, otherwise our babies would not see us smile as much! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful post. You’re a great writer! Keep on sharing your Mommyhood zombie moments! 🙂

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    • Steph Mignon

      Hi Ina! Thanks for stopping by to say hello. And for the complement about my writing! I can’t wait to check out your blog and see what you have to say. Kind and Simple Blog is such a cute name!

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  2. cassiedash

    You’re definitely not alone! I bet there’s not a parent out there who doesn’t do some things they’d swore they’d never do. We’re all know-it-alls about how to raise children until we actually have children to raise, huh?

    Food and eating habits was a big one for me, too. And also I always said that I was going to live by the rule, “Never do for your child what he can do for himself.” But you know what? Sometimes, it’s just faster and easier to pick up my kid’s toys and put her shoes on as we’re heading out the door, rather than insist that she do it herself. Gah! I guess we all take shortcuts as parents when we’re in the thick of it, eh?

    And by the way — you look way prettier when sleeping than I do! 🙂

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    • Steph Mignon

      You mean you like my neck rolls? Ha! Thanks though. I almost put the caption “why co-sleeping in dangerous” below this picture because it looks like I’m about to roll over on Daphne. Even before we started co-sleeping every night she was always right next to the bed in the co-sleeper. Sure wish I had kept that one up! I do like that mantra, “Never do for your child what he can do for himself,” but I’m with you… it’s just not always possible. It’s also good to know that I’m not the only one who had some delusions about what motherhood would be like. That list is far from exhaustive too… there are plenty of others, bad AND good, that I hope to write about another time. Being a mom leaves me in shock and awe most days – about myself and my girl’s antics.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. gardengirl29

    Yep, I’m with you on a lot of these! I swore I’d never cosleep and then did for a very long time because it’s the only way my little guy would sleep. I also thought those parents who let their children watch any TV before the age of two were ignorant and lazy- but then I discovered that the only way to keep my son safe and happy so that I could shower was to plop him in his playpen for a bit of Sesame Street. I’ve always wanted him to eat mostly organic, at least while he is really little and things are under my control, and he often does, but I do have to accept that due to costs, the daycare he goes to does not usually serve organic food. (Oh, well. The other four days of the week we do pretty well. And I remember all the horrible things my mom fed me regularly- like hot dogs!- and feel better.) 🙂

    To your point about looking good, I often looked like a slob pre-baby, so I fully expected it to be the same afterward. 😉

    To add to this, I used to judge people who weren’t available to their friends after having a child, people who “changed” after becoming parents, and people who talked too much about their kids. I now totally understand the desire to want to hole up with your family on the weekends and to spend as much time as possible with your kid. I do still make time for friends, but it’s not nearly as frequent as it used to be. I also now understand that you DO change after having a child- and that’s okay. And finally, I now totally get the impulse to talk about your kids a lot. They are such a huge part of your life. I am mindful of not talking about my son too much with people who aren’t interested (coworkers and a lot of friends without kids) but I do enjoy talking mom stuff with other moms who like to swap stories and share advice and all the joys and challenges of parenthood.

    One of the great things about motherhood is that I’m so non-judgmental now. I realize that most people do their best, and usually, everything works out just fine!

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    • Steph Mignon

      You covered many of the topics I didn’t have time to cover here: the lack of time for old friends and the shift in interests with new ones. I definitely like talking about other things, but Daphne sure is one of my favorites! And I’m lucky to have mom friends like you who also enjoy lengthy discussions about how our lives have changed now that we’re moms. xoxox

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  4. Daryl

    I love this! When I worked with families on a daily basis, I used to joke that I was taking notes on what NOT to do once I had kids of my own. Ha! The old me would judge mommy me HARD. But we all do the best we can with what we’ve got, right?

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  5. D. Wallace Peach

    Oh, this post is sooooo cute. No one, absolutely no one, can prepare a mom (or dad) for what it’s going to be like to have a bady-kid. There’s just no way. My daughter planned to be super-mommy. That lasted for about an hour. It’s humbling and wonderful, and the kids do just fine. Your baby is beautiful.

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