Even though it was over 10 years ago, I remember the “Goldfish cracker moment” so clearly.
I was a junior in college visiting my older sister who was knee deep in motherhood. Between her rambunctious three-year-old, inquisitive two-year-old, and tiny infant, her life was downright chaotic.
To escape the noise, I retreated to her master bathroom. After a minute of peace and solitude, something on the floor caught my eye.
A small, orange Goldfish cracker — right there on her tiled floor!
My eyes widened and negative thoughts crept into my head. “How in the world would a snack like this get into the bathroom? That’s so gross! That doesn’t make any sense to me.”
At the time, I was a bit confused by what I saw. But most of all, I was shocked at how quickly so many never statements began to fill my young mind.
“When I have kids, I’ll never let my house get so messy that snacks end up on the bathroom floor.”
“As a mom, I will never go a day without doing my hair or makeup.”
“Even with little kids, I’m never going to leave the house in sweatpants.”
“My kids will never zone out in front of the TV.”
Oh, how naive I was to think that any of these convictions would hold true years later after starting a family of my own. More importantly, it was foolish to think these ideas would hold much weight at all.
Not only was it unfair for me to judge my sister, it was also completely unrealistic.
It’s nearly impossible to grasp the monumental change that occurs when we become parents. And when we do have kids, the small things quickly give way to make room for the big ones.
Quite truthfully, this moment started shaping me as a mom years before I even became one. It made me look at the pieces of motherhood that would truly matter and those that simply would not. It also made me realize that making limiting and negative assumptions about motherhood did nothing but place extra stress on myself.
The Limitations of Saying “Never”
Trying to follow these never statements felt binding and difficult. And veering away from them made me feel like a hypocrite, or even a failure.
Maybe you have a handful of your own never statements similar to those above. Perhaps yours even pertain to deciding on larger things like working outside the home, public versus private schooling, or what route you take in feeding your baby.
But let’s be honest, at the end of the day what matters most is the love we show our children day in and day out.
So instead, I choose to concentrate on my always statements (and I can assure you they have nothing to do with snacks or my wardrobe). They are the blanket of values that not only guide me in raising my children, but also help me relax when it comes to the less significant details of parenting.
The Always List
I will always love my kids no matter what.
I will always do everything I can to protect my children.
My family’s health and happiness will always be my top priority.
Despite how I feel, I will always try my best and work hard.
My family always comes first.
When I choose to focus on the impact of the words above, some of the pressure and self-scrutiny is lifted from my role as a mom. And that feeling is freeing.
Thankfully, I can look back at this “Goldfish cracker moment” and smile. Honestly, I’m grateful that little snack made its way to my sister’s bathroom all those years ago.
I still wonder how it got there, but I can promise you that is out of genuine curiosity and zero judgment. Personally I could come up with several scenarios in my own home that may result in snacks showing up in the bathroom. But that’s beside the point.
So my challenge for you is this — take a look at your inner dialogue and free yourself from those never statements. The ones that hold you back, stress you out, or make you think you’re not doing a great job.
Replace them instead with the always declarations that are most important to you and your family. And enjoy the freedom that comes with making that change.
And if you see a toddler snack on another mom’s bathroom floor? Smile, toss it in the garbage, and go give her a hug.