I'm Not The Mom I Am on Instagram
I can’t see my floor right now, you guys.
Plastic fruits and veggies, every doll that exists in our house, thick crayons and pieces of chalk, way too many teeny tiny books, and soggy baby puffs are strewn across my conjoined living room and dining room.
As you know, I have an adventurous, intelligent, and funny as hell fifteen month old daughter who has just learned to walk a few months ago. To her, our floor is her mad scientist experimenting room - her opportunity to pull apart, dissect, and examine parts of a whole new world.
And I merely get in the way when I try to organize any of it.
Every time I painstakingly clean something up, she wants to see how it will look spread across our rug again. She lives for water puddles, dirty hands, and a day well explored.
As a self-certified neat freak, this drives me effing BONKERS.
If you're anything like me, the daily picture of motherhood you paint in your head is obliterated on a moment to moment basis. And for many of us out there, that's a tough pill to swallow.
More often than not, we lose our patience, our keys, and any level of seeming sanity.
We spend most of the day living in grungy yoga pants.
Some of us worry about our nonexistent careers while our kiddos are playing in front of us. Others worry we are missing out on our kiddos' lives while we work a full-time job.
We check our cell phones at the playground.
We get short with our partners and kids.
We forget to brush our teeth, shower, eat anything other than bread and coffee.
And just about daily, we feel like humongous failures when the evidence of our days do not match up with whatever seeming standards we've held dear.
Sure, social spots like Instagram are largely filled with the beautifully manicured, high flying moments of our parenting - these are the moments that remind us we are doing more than fail. But they don't realistically help us cope in the actual moments of failing.
|Yep. That's my underwear around her neck.|
And we're not alone. According to the 2015 State of Modern Motherhood Report shared on the online magazine Mother last year, 64% of moms say that parenting is more of a competitive struggle today than it used to be. Three out of four mommies admit that it's more important than ever to be a "perfect" parent, with stay-at-home-moms coming in at a higher number.
So... what's a vulnerable new mom to do?
First of all, take a deep breath and realize that, just like it was in high school, anyone who tells you they're having an easy, "perfect" go of it is usually hiding the pain of imperfection. Because, despite our best efforts, we all fail again and again at this mommyhood thing.
And it's okay.
I'm beginning to think that's the beauty of it all - learning to lovingly surrender to the big, old mess in front of us. I mean, that's what much of life seems to be so much of the time, am I right?
And the sooner we can embrace the art of being an imperfect mama, the sooner we can get on with being a present one.
Here are some tips to embrace the failures of motherhood:
Remind yourself that this is all temporary.
It is often so easy to feel like you will be stuck changing poop diapers or picking her up off of the ground forever. But she's going to grow up. And with every new independent skill, you will find the pieces of yourself you have been putting on the back burner to help her grow. One of my new favorite things is to add "for now" to anything I'm struggling with as a new mom. I'm stuck in the car while she naps... for now. I'm cleaning up toy messes at the end of each day... for now. You get the idea.
Laugh at yourself...
Because the laughter will carry you in the moments when you feel lost. Because you are one of a billion moms struggling to get vomit out of your hair. Because your son probably just drew all over your walls and thinks he's the next Picasso. And who knows, maybe if you let him make that mess, he’ll become it.
... And cry if you need to.
The absolute worst thing you can do when you're feeling like you've failed is to push all of those messy emotions down and pretend they don't exist. So find a safe space to cry and just do it. Honestly, guys? It's okay if it ends up being in front of your kid. Hey, most of the times I've cried in front of my daughter, she walks up to me and kisses me. And that is showing me she already knows about a little thing called empathy.
|They got it right in Bad Moms.|
Find your tribe.
So much of this journey is easier when shared. For me, joining a weekly mommy group helped connect me with other new moms in my area in an easygoing and welcoming way. I also made sure to reach out time and again to the tried and true friends I had prior to becoming a mom - and they have been some of my biggest champions. Hey, I even have an Australian mommy pen-pal I connect with through WhatsApp. During our video conversations, we laugh, we cry, and we share the good, the bad, and the ugly. And I feel a heck of a lot less alone in the process.
Remember your kiddo is watching you... and that's a very good thing.
In her book, "The Conscious Parent", Shefali Tsabary says: “If you want to enter into a state of pure connection with your child, you can achieve this by setting aside any sense of superiority." Our children aren't looking for cookie cutter models of perfection, they are looking for our humanity. We need to be authentic, brave, and emotional beings in front of them.
The fact of the matter is, our kids need us to show up. Even when we're tired as hell, worn to the bone, and feeling raw. They just need us. And that is more than enough for now. It is enough to just focus on becoming really good at being a mom - which so often means being okay with failing.
Please feel free to share your failures here. You are not alone in this journey. You are more than whatever mom you compare yourself to on Instagram - even if that mom is you on Instagram.