Dear Modern Mom,
I know you are stressed out, feel under appreciated, tired, and most days life seems to be a big, fat hot mess. Whether you work or stay at home, there never appears to be enough time in the day to do all the things you need to do. The laundry remains unfolded in a pile on your floor. The tornado left by your toddler is still sitting in the living room, and you are silently cursing to yourself every time you step on a lego. We grew up thinking we could do it all. Our parents shaped us to believe that the modern woman could have it all. It was going to be so easy. We could work and have children. Until many of us grew up and realized, raising a child and paying for daycare doesn’t make sense. Those of us that keep on working feel stressed and sad that we miss out on milestones. We see the pains in the eyes of our children that we can’t spend more time with them. They are too young to realize the sacrifices we make for them. We are hard on ourselves. We believe we can do it all, and we act like we are very put together. Yet most of us are happy to survive in a pair of yoga pants and a t-shirt covered in mac and cheese and snot from our children. We compare and contrast and constantly seek to be better, have more, or do what we feel is the best for our kids. We argue about things that really don’t matter. Instead of coming together, we divide ourselves about topics like nursing vs bottling, organic vs commercial, screen time vs no screen time, sugar vs no sugar, and working vs staying home. In truth it’s all just chatter trying to distract ourselves from the fact that on most days we often just feel like failures.
I have a secret, and I’m learning it right now. It’s not because I want to know the secret, but it’s something I’ve come to realize having been on both sides of it. I worked for 3.5 years and now I stay at home. The secret is – we are all just barely holding on. Most of us are exhausted, want 5 minutes to ourselves, feel like we are letting down our spouses, children, family and friends. We’ve been lied to by society that we have to do it all. When the truth is pretty simple that we don’t have to do it all. If we aren’t a mom that likes to craft, the truth is you do not have to be a pinterest mom that makes hand crafted decorations for parties and beautifully designed cakes. If you aren’t a sporty mom, you don’t have to pretend the you can play baseball and fool everyone around you as you trip around the bases. If you aren’t the worlds best cook, you don’t need to waste your time in the kitchen trying all the pinned items you saw on pinterest. In fact, if you are like me, just get rid of pinterest all together. It’s a board of things you never have time to do, and it simply reminds you of all the cool things you have no desire to do or simply can’t do.
I’m learning that I need to know that I can’t do it all, be it all, and I certainly can’t have it all. In fact most days I’m barely hanging on, and by noon I may or may not be debating if it’s too early to pour that glass of wine because I have kid vomit on my shirt and haven’t had a solid night sleep since I gave birth. Actually, who am I kidding, I haven’t had a good night of sleep since before I was pregnant. I’m also learning that comparing myself to other mom’s around me simply reminds me that we all have things we excel at, and maybe the easier thing to do is to find a village. Find the friends that can be crafty if you are not, or find the sporty friends if you are not. Find and cultivate friendships with other women based on mutual respect, laughter and maybe a little snark.
Try to remember we are all just trying our best, and when you find your village, use their skills where you are lacking. I know it’s not easy finding your village. It’s been a long journey for me. But in time you will find friends that can be there for you, laugh with you, and encourage you to wear that shirt with mac and cheese out of the house. You will laugh about your love for Yoga pants, complain about the never ending laundry, dust and toys that clutter your home. You will laugh that your husbands are another child to you, and you will realize that there is actually community and strength in numbers. Suddenly, you begin to realize like I did, that no single mom has it all put together. Whether you are working or staying at home, all of us are beyond stressed out and worry we are not doing enough for our children. Yet, in all of our hearts is a deep desire to give our kids the world. So today I’m letting you off the hook. It’s ok not to clean your house, have the 5 course meal ready, and you don’t have to make home made decorations, cake and food for your child’s birthday party. Heck don’t even worry about having a theme for the party if it’s not your thing. Your child isn’t going to remember the theme – they are going to remember your love. Will you come with me as I also lower my expectations? It’s ok if your laundry isn’t folded, if the tornado of toys stays on the floor an extra few hours and if the beds aren’t made as long as the child is loved. Here is the secret: We don’t have to do it all, and we don’t have to have it all. We have it all because we are mom’s and our children are the greatest gift we’ve ever been given. The rest is just noise. Hold that kid tightly because it will go faster than you can blink, and then it will be over. Take a second to sit in your filthy home and snuggle, giggle and play.
Oh Modern Mom, I know you can do it. I will try with you to be less critical of myself and kinder to myself. I just hope you can too.
The Hot Mess Mom in Minnesota