I’ve been thinking about something for a while now and today, thanks to . As I continue my work on this page and on the blog to normalize certain aspects of parenting that some people find incredibly challenging, polarizing, frustrating etc. etc. you get the idea… The one thing that I always try and do is be honest with people so that they don’t get blindsided by reality. Unfortunately, my attempts at doing this never really seem to work.
New moms have this idea in their head that they think they know what motherhood is supposed to be like and even if I tell them; girl it’s harder than you think- they don’t really listen. They can’t hear it. They think they know so they think that you’re just trying to scare them or discourage them or make them feel like they can’t do it.
It’s always confused me why this is…
I was watching a live video this morning and an amazing, brave mama that I follow posted a very real, honest statement while asking for others to help her see she is not alone. I think she really hit the nail on the head and, for the first time, brought it into sharp focus for me.
The reason why no one really understands how how hard this stuff can be and why we desperately need advocates to fight with us is because all we ever see are these perfect images of perfect people living their perfect lives on social media.
They read all the sweet, fun and perfect mom blogs that talk about all of the super creative projects they make every day with their children. They see all the photos of the photographer moms with her babies in washed out, dreamy images and they think -“yeah that’s totally going to be me someday!”. They listen to the real stories in horror and think, “that’s never going to be me. I’m never going to be THAT kind of parent!” They think their children will never have meltdowns in a super market. Their children will never speak out of turn to an adult or a stranger or hit another child for no reason. They think their children will never have tablets and never have access to a cell phone, they’ll always put away their things and do their homework and they’ll eat only exactly what they are given because no one in their lives will secretly slip them a mouthful of whipped cream in a can. Because it’s possible. They’ve seen it – these perfect blog mommies with their photos of home projects and decor choices to amplify brain activity and decrease distraction and they’ve taken notes and they’re ready.
Every single one of us has been on that side of the fence at some point, right? I mean, I remember, don’t you? Clearly mapping out exactly how I was going to parent my children and what we were going to do and what they would know by the time they were what age. Let me just tell you-we have long since passed several of my “by this age” goals and we are lucky to be wearing pants by 1pm most days. When you see me post an awesome photo of my children, what you don’t see are the other 15 I took that had me so frustrated I finally just screamed out “BE STILL AND TAKE ONE DECENT PHOTO LIKE NORMAL HUMANS FOR GODSSAKE!!” and it was only the fear of an apocalypse because I was about to explode that caused them to actually look as adorable as they seem.
Most people do this. They share the good stuff but not the bad, so if you’re not directly involved with them you may think everything is fine and perfect. We want to share the good. There’s nothing wrong with that… as long as others don’t see our good and think that’s all there is to our story.
My point is, no one is going to know what it’s really like unless we tell them and we simply don’t say it enough. We have to say it for them, for ourselves, for each other.. more often than we do.
I feel like every new mama I meet is sitting there in tears, alone in the dark, blindsided by the reality that motherhood is not what she saw on Instagram. She’ll wake up the next morning, post gorgeous photos of her baby and everyone will think she’s living the perfect dream… continuing the cycle.
We’re all walking around with these fake versions of ourselves covering the reality that none of us are 100% okay.
Can I just say right here, for the record; I’m a mess. This is hard work. Whether you’re a stay at home mom, a working mom, somewhere in between mom… This is hard. From pregnancy to childbirth to breast-feeding to baby wearing and beyond, all of it is hard.
There’s judgment and guilt and frustration and frayed nerves and that’s not even counting what OTHER people think, that’s just the internal dialogue we have to overcome. There’s over-exhaustion and over-scheduling and too much caffeine, not enough green in our diet and way too many carbs. Drinking 3 cups of coffee with too much creamer and eating the leftovers the kids didn’t finish instead of bothering to make your own breakfast is a normal morning.
Getting where you need to go while making sure they look like you care about them because they’re wearing clothes that hopefully don’t have stains on them and maybe you brushed their hair today (or at least made them wear a hat to hide the tangled mess you just couldn’t deal with that day). That’s real life.
Making sure they have shoes on when someone comes over on Monday because they haven’t worn shoes in days, so you should probably at least make it look like you’ve paid attention to their feet since Friday. Welcome – this is what happens.
Falling asleep while nursing your baby so you end up having absolutely no idea how long she was on that side so you just put her on the other because you really have no concept of time anymore and it might’ve been 30 seconds, but it might also been an hour and you really just don’t know… and someone says “but there is an app to help you keep track of how often you’ve nursed on each side” and you politely pretend to be excited about it but you’re thinking, “yeah that’s great but that would require that I actually have enough brainpower to download an app and wait, where IS my phone? I haven’t seen it since I took that picture of the poop that was a weird color and sent it to my doctor’s email at 3am after posting it on that facebook group…”
When someone says “oh did you take newborn photos?” Or they want to tell you about how easy it is to scrapbook the first year or they say “did you attend that really cool kids events in town last week? It was free I would figured you would be there…” and you have literally no idea what anyone is talking about because you’ve been sitting at home by yourself watching monsters with giant eyes who sing about colors while cleaning up poop and spit up and trying to get the dog hair out of the keys of your piano before someone thinks that it’s actually a living being.
So. What’s my point?
Let’s be real. I’m gonna start a thing. 30 days of real life, starting today.
I am going to post at least one moment of bitter truth and/or a photo that, INSTEAD of the pretty, filtered photos of awesome things, shows you the down and dirty part of motherhood.
I hope each of you are inspired to do it too! Do this for all of us who need to know we’re not alone and for those new or soon to be mamas who need to understand that while yes, it’s going to get rough, no one is perfect and we are all living it. We get upset. We get embarrassed. We do stupid things. Our children are challenging and it’s all a lot harder than we thought. We don’t always handle ourselves in a way that lives up to our instagram and I want THOSE truths to shine so we can know we’re all in this together.
I look forward to seeing your posts and encourage you to invite others to join us. Let’s start a crusade for truth in motherhood for all our sakes!
See you in the trenches, mamas!