Facebook is a way to show the world all the things you already did, Instagram is to show what you’re currently doing, Twitter allows you to post any little thought that pops into your mind, and Pinterest is there to save project ideas that you’ll probably never get around to doing. One thing they all have perfectly in common, however, is making you feel like a loser. Your house is never as clean as your sister in law’s and your toddler doesn’t know her colors from her numbers yet. You don’t do enough activities outside as a family, like Susan from church seems to do with hers, and your Pinterest fails are epic. Motherhood, in this day and age, is all on display, readily accessible to be criticized, thanks to social media access that’s just a click away. Never has it been so conveniently easy to get a peek into another mother’s routine, discipline, successes and failures. Because of this, there’s an overwhelming expectation of what we should be doing with our kids, what our homes are supposed to look like, and the things we could be accomplishing. You think motherhood is sparkling kitchens, folded laundry, clean children and no tears?
I’m here to tell you:
It’s a lie.
And I’m guilty of lying. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a picture and posted it to Instagram or Facebook with the “perfect” filter, when there’s a pile of dirty dishes or my kid’s junk pushed just out of frame. I’ve specifically posted updates that only include the good and successful, leaving out my failures and struggles. I’ve compared my boring, sloppy activities for the toddler to another mom’s homemade, handcrafted toys from Pinterest tutorials and felt inadequate. I’ve assumed my friends and family are super moms and super wives who surely can’t be having the same worries and struggles I deal with every day. I’ve lied about what my motherhood really looks like because that’s what I’ve seen other women doing.
But now I ask:
Why compare your weaknesses to another mom’s strengths?
In an Internet world of perfect homes and children who apparently never throw tantrums, I’ll be the voice that reminds you what motherhood is really like.
Motherhood is messy. Messy hair, messy kitchen, messy kids. “Messy” means you’ve lived and enjoyed your time with the kids. “Messy” does not mean indifference or lack of skills. There’s a time for cleaning, of course. But a clean, organized house every day is not the most important thing in life. “Messy” describes the situation, not your character or ability.
Motherhood is stinky. I don’t remember the last time I got to take a good, long shower. Some days are just like that. I’ve always envied the women who would walk past me and a gust of sweet aroma would follow in their wake. How do they do that? My husband once told me I smelled like baby poop.
And, of course, kids are just smelly in general. My children don’t get bathed enough, I’m sure, so you’ll need to flat out tell me if mine are the “stinky kids” in class.
Motherhood is scary. Babies who scream all night with no clue as to why are scary. Clumsy toddlers who hurt themselves too easily are scary. Teenagers who lose their virginity too young or drive their cars too fast are scary. Spiders you have to kill on your own because your husband is at work all day are scary. And trying to stretch your income to the next paycheck is terrifying. Anyone who ignores the scary side of being a mother is living the lie I’m talking about.
Motherhood is generous. You give your time, your money, and some days you give your sanity for those little people who need you for everything. You become a giving machine, to the point where you don’t even realize, or take enough credit for, how selfless you’ve become. You’d give anything to be the one in pain instead of your hurting child, and you give all your experience and knowledge as you teach your growing babies. Because you give so much of yourself, sometimes you forget to keep a little for your own strength.
Motherhood is confusing. I’m convinced that none of us really know what the heck we’re doing, especially with our first child. You’ve never had to teach someone to crap in the toilet before and it probably hadn’t crossed your mind that a toddler wouldn’t just know that it’s dangerous to run into the road. There are a million theories of how you should discipline your child and none of them really are the “best” method. It’s all so confusing! So no, despite how put together I look on the outside, I don’t actually know what the heck I’m doing and I’m just secretly hoping everything will work out somehow.
Motherhood is raw. Emotions run rampant as a toddler tries to figure out life’s consequences and mothers try to figure out how to parent. Fights are a normal part of life, though never fun. Tears will flow; tears of joy, anger, frustration, laughter. Postpartum Depression and Anxiety are real disorders and there’s no shame in asking for help. It’s all raw and it’s all perfect, in it’s own way. Don’t be afraid to talk about this side of motherhood.
Motherhood is perfect. Well…not perfect perfect. Nothing is. But MY perfect looks differently than YOUR perfect. I’ll try not to compare our lives, because my children are not your children and my capabilities are not on the same level as yours. And that’s all okay. To me, “perfection” in my motherhood comes when I try (even if I fail, which happens a lot), when I am patient (which is hard for me, most days), and when my children are happy. Everything else can wait, or can just suck it. My motherhood is perfect, in it’s own way, and so is yours.
If you were to randomly drop by my house, you’d find dirty dishes covering my kitchen counters and dining table. You’ll find my toddler’s toys all over the living room and our guest bathroom floor covered in books and panties, since potty training has been kicking my butt. I’ll probably be braless (trying to hide my obvious nipples by holding the baby up to my chest or crossing my arms) and I’ll still be in my pjs. Don’t judge. Just enjoy the reality of it all! If I go to your house and see the same things, we’ll become instant friends. Can we all just agree to be a little more genuine about what our motherhood really looks like, and stand behind it proudly?