You know how it goes. You find yourself at some point in the day with a few minutes of free time and start cruising Facebook to see what everyone is up to or if the latest Buzzfeed Quiz can correctly determine which 80’s teen movie best represents your life. Pretty soon you’ve wasted an hour of time on pretty much nothing productive and you feel like a total idiot.
To make yourself feel better you quickly do a Google search to find some really fun activities you can do with your kids today to make up for that lost hour on Facebook. You’re met with thousands of blog posts written by moms all over the world. Pictures of happy children, beautiful art projects, pristine homes, intricate games made of marbles, strings, and straws to turn your little one into a baby genius flood your screen. “Wow! Well, if she can do it, so can I,” you tell yourself with as much enthusiasm as you can muster! So you try to get started. You begin to search your house for all the great paints, brushes, smocks, strings, straws, and marbles. But all you have on hand is some sidewalk chalk, lotion, food coloring, crayons, and some computer scrap paper. Then you remember you saw something on Pinterest about making your own paint! So you quickly look that up and get discouraged by the amount of ingredients it will take and decide to just put food coloring in some lotion and see what happens. It is just lotion, so you decide finger painting will work best…have fun and moisturize your little ones’ hands all at the same time! Great! Super mom!
You throw your husband’s old oversized t-shirts onto your kids as a smock and get started. Before you know it your once yellow lotion is now a lovely shade of brown and the “paintings” the kids made are a little bit more like soggy paper that will just get really crusty when it dries next week. There’s colored lotion all over your floor and walls, their faces and hair. You go to wash them off, but remember that food coloring has a tendency to stain their hair, nails, and skin. So now your kids have fun shades of red, blue, green, yellow, purple, orange and pink all over their faces and it isn’t coming out. (Can’t wait to see what you find in their diapers later…) And now they’re crying because you’ve scrubbed their skin so hard that it hurts. You then remember that you have family pictures scheduled for tomorrow night and say a silent prayer that the food coloring will disappear in time.
Your master plan to turn your babies into happy little geniuses who go on to win the Nobel Prize and dedicate it to you just went up in smoke. Poof. Gone. You know, now, that they’re going to turn into serial killers and will blame you for this moment and ruining their lives. Fail.
Ok so maybe your day doesn’t really look like that. Maybe it isn’t that dramatic. But all of us moms have read hundreds of blog posts about the joys of motherhood, and there are so many countless joys, to be sure! The blogs are filled with great ideas for activities and games for your kids. Mom always looks clean and well-rested, the house always seems to look picked up and bright. Even their messes look organized! How can they do this? How does she manage to do all of this and not lose it?
Let’s face it. In real life it doesn’t work like that. In real life the blogger mom was probably tossing every extraneous item she owns into a laundry basket and stuffing it in the garage so she could take a picture of a house that looked emaculate. She probably used some special filter on Instagram to blur out any stains or dirt and make her house look *extra shiny*. The kids were probably behind her punching each other in the face fighting over who got to use the blue paint first. She’s probably screaming at them, “knock it off or I will put all of this away right now!” as she is taking the picture. The truth is, that mom on all the blog posts is just like all the rest of us. She is normal. She doesn’t have it all together. She is having the same kind of fun that all the rest of us have with our kids. Or maybe she really is supermom…I don’t know.
Really, in the end, we end up comparing our stories to the other ones we read on Facebook, blogs, twitter…etc. We read a beautiful, peaceful birth story and compare it to our hectic one and feel like losers…feel gypped. You were satisfied with it until you read someone else’s and now feel like you messed up. You were ok with your house and the stained carpet because kids will be kids…until you saw the post about how many chemicals are in carpet that are going to kill your family. You were ok with feeding your kids a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with apple slices for lunch…until you saw the super duper organic, whole, homemade, free-range chicken and rice lunch with peas, carrots, and even spinach hidden inside (only took 3 hours and $100 to make! But what is time and money when it comes to the health of your child?!).
Suddenly you realized that your worst fears have come true. You’ve failed…and you didn’t even know it. You start driving yourself nuts trying to keep up…trying to hold it together…trying to keep a happy face all the time to be that mom. But even that mom isn’t that mom. We all have issues. We all have bad days. We all have those moments with our tiny crying human when we just don’t know what to do. All we can do is make sure no one dies so we put the tearful baby in a pack n play and slowly walk away to take some deep breaths. We all find ourselves yelling the same things at our kids that our grandparents did our our parents: “don’t make me come over there!” “If I have to tell you one more time…” “I’m gonna knock your heads together if you don’t stop fighting!”
We have our moments of exhasution. We have our moments of weakness. We find ourselves deep in the trenches of parenthood and all we can do is get into fetal position and hope none of the flaming arrows hits a vital organ. We are exhausted from the fight. We are tired of feeling alone. We are tired of pretending like everything is going smoothly to put on a face for Facebook. The goal is no longer to have a baby genius but to just successfully remain off of the 5:00 news for the next 18 years.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we play the comparing game? Why don’t we, instead, come alongside each other and support one another? Why can’t we just be honest when things are great AND when they’re tough? What are we so afraid of? Are we afraid of being judged? Are we afraid of proving to everyone, including ourselves, that we just weren’t cut out for this??
We aren’t alone! Every mom has her bad days…even rough years (terrible two’s…three’s?). I swear, things are so crazy in my house that if my kids aren’t screaming at me, running around, making a mess, and demanding food like a medieval beast-man then I get worried. I start feeling their foreheads and saying, “are you ok? Are you feeling alright?” They’ve gotta be getting sick because quiet cuddly mornings are a thing of the distant past. Scary.
No one ever said being a parent would be easy. You cannot possibly “enjoy every moment” like every grandma demands of you. The years fly by, but the days can drag on. But it is so worth it, right? We all have that in common! We are doing this incredibly difficult job, but it is so worth it! We all know that! Sure, we may need some reminding now and again, but if we can give each other the freedom to talk about the good, bad, and the ugly, then we can lift each other up when we are feeling down. We can shine some light when someone feels like she’s in a dark place. We can provide the box of Kleenex and the listening ear when she feels like she’s failed. We can jump up and down when something amazing has happened! We can laugh together about the hard times when they’ve become a “remember when…???”.
So, let’s not be spoiled by the mom-blogs. We are all different, and yet the same! We are in this together! You’re not a failure just because your house doesn’t look like Better Homes and Gardens and your 5 year old isn’t doing calculus. You’re a good mom! You can do this! No judgement here!