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It’s said there is no love like a mother’s love, but it’s more than that. There’s no worry like a mother’s worry.
Will screen time scar my child for life?
Will no screen time scar him for life?
Did I create happy memories today?
Will all they recall years later be me saying “hurry up” one thousand four hundred and seven times a day?
There’s no second guessing while disciplining in the moment. I remember thinking my parents knew all of the answers which I’ve come to learn they truly didn’t have a clue. They were just really good BS artists. So I attempt to sound authoritative as though I know what the heck I’m doing, but boy do my walls crumble when it’s just me and my thoughts. I can rehash every angle of an altercation with my kids on a repeated loop for hours afterward.
Did I do that right?
Was the punishment too severe?
Not severe enough?
Am I raising a serial killer?
OK so kidding on the last question there. Sort of. I am in the post terrible two’s we like to call tortuous three’s around here. God give me strength.
So even what should be black and white choices turn to grayish guilt-inducing thoughts hours after everyone else is asleep.
Is this the right pre-school?
Is homeschooling the right answer for us?
Did I choose the right sport for the fall?
Will she be behind in life if we don’t do a mommy and me class?
Add in a new uncertainty to all of the unknowns we already face such as a behavioral diagnosis or a food allergy. Mix that up and we are drowning before the day’s even begun. Before parenthood we were never so utterly responsible for another human. My husband and I left the hospital with our first and literally laughed on the drive home like “they just let us walk out with a freaking kid!” Granted it was our kid, but I felt like I had been quizzed harder in my life when renting a car.
Truly a privilege to be a Mom, but man if we are honest there are those tough times where instead of feeling like a blessing, child rearing feels more like a life sentence.
And to top it off we are supposed to be making all of these life altering decisions in a picture perfect world on the social media stage.
Had a home run in your kid approved gluten free sustainably farm raised non-GMO dinner tonight? Snap a photo and pin it to your “I’m the best cook ever” board.
Really nailed that whole work full time and mother full-time paradigm? Get that picture of you doing it all like a boss up on Instagram.
Be sure to tweet the recipe for your homemade chemical free treatment that gently removes stains while leaving a wandering hint of lavender from your homegrown herb garden.
And for the love of all mothers around the world, please do post that photo on Facebook of your preschool children gathered around the organic veggies they grew while peacefully reading how to create their own local missions outreach. I kid you not. Saw that once. Then immediately decided my life was crap and I was a horrible mother.
If based on what I see all day long that everyone else is fabulously nailing this parenting thing how can I even compare?
Well for starters let’s all just take a moment and say we can’t.
We can’t compare ourselves to other’s best-edited versions of themselves.
Competition over. It’s safe to say that any photo of my family on my Facebook page took about 20 tries, 11 threats and 6 bribes to get 4 out of 5 of us looking at the camera. Don’t even ask me for smiles! That’s #winning enough to me! Yet I’m not posting the other 19 atrocious attempts – although sometimes I do to the horror of my mother because it’s amazing how collectively disturbed we can all look at once. There should be a #winning hashtag for that hot mess!
So is anyone actually winning at this whole mother-wife-sister-daughter-neighbor-friend-employee-aunt-homemaker thing?
Well I daresay that the woman who throws the best budget friendly kid themed birthday parties on your block has some area she’s beating herself up over. Or you know the kitchen witch doctor who always knows what oil is for what ailment? She probably doesn’t feel like she’s winning on a variety of other topics either.
We put our own photoshopped spin on what we share with the world because, as one of my girlfriends said, “Truth be told I don’t want to see everyone else’s garbage as I have enough of my own.”
And let’s be mature enough to agree that there is a fine line between sharing and bragging.
Social media is a blessing and a curse which has created the term “mommy wars” with all of the pressure. Just flash a big ol’ spotlight on my own insecurities because with each refresh I’m always falling short.
So if you are sharing to share then you are not the problem. If it’s to net empathy with a vague dramatic open ended post or to make yourself feel better by highlighting your photoshopped “perfection” then congratulations – you are so not the solution. However my readers are not in the second category – heck if you are lacking in humility you wouldn’t make it this far as by now as somewhere in Hollywood a Kardashian has Tweeted something vapidly shiny to divert short attention spans.
Yet when we feel that we are failing at mothering and confronted with other’s photoshopped lives then the lie that everyone else seems to be doing it perfectly is more than just whispers – it’s on full display with each post or pin. Add in our utter tiredness, wonky hormones and wild little ones with undeveloped prefrontal cortexes and it’s a pressure cooker ready to explode. Harsh words, snippy comments, hollered commands, tears that won’t stop or even crazed yelling. Pick your poison. Lord knows the scary mommy in me has been discussed in past articles for a reason. She’s always lurking in the shadows one mommy temper tantrum away.
So dear reader when it’s adult swim all the time you’re gonna need a life preserver.
Here are 4 quick to do’s when the facade of another’s “perfect” life makes you feel less than worthy of the high calling of motherhood:
1. Walk away from your phone, tablet, computer. Just put it down, turn it off, take a break. Nothing in a virtual world is allowed to affect your blood pressure, sense of worth or outlook on life unless it is real issues like how to stop child slave labor, an opportunity to help women or orphans around the world or puppies. Cute pictures of puppies always make it right again.
2. Learn to say “that just isn’t a priority for me right now” and mean it. Pickling left over veggies? Brilliant reuse idea. But if you don’t have the bandwidth of time to purchase Mason jars let alone find the time to do the work or find the storage space then employ this quote out loud. That just isn’t a priority for me right now. Composting, sewing, baby scrapbooking, you name it – all non priorities for me right now. Can they induce guilt that I’m not doing these things? Absolutely. So I remind myself of my priorities – keeping three children alive, a house running, writing to encourage others and a having my hubby happy to come home to all of our craziness.
3. Learn where the “unfriend” tab is and use it. If someone isn’t lifting you up, they are letting you down. Enough said. But actually because I’m never a girl of few words, select “unfollow” if it’s a family member or long time friend situation that you don’t want or can’t completely break from. Nowhere is it written that you must subject yourself to other’s drama, bragging or twisted posts. Thank you Mark Zuckerberg for the peaceful option to quietly bow out.
4. Focus on your bounty. Out of all of the madness in the world and grandness in creation, you alone were chosen to mother this little person or people. It is a high calling that is lived out mainly in the trenches, but in Psalms it says we are fearlessly and wonderfully made so we hold tight to that. Not others showcasing their wins taking our eyes off all our blessings, only focusing on our own lack of skills, minimal possessions or few and far between wins. Galatians 6:4 says “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else . . . ”
Remember that contentment ends where comparison begins. So when we embrace the beauty in all of the imperfect madness we are up to our elbows in during this season of life, no photoshopped post can compare. We will actually be living an authentically vibrant life full of pot holes, giggles, mac n cheese, hugs for days, laundry piled up, little voices saying I love you, sloppy kisses, skinned knees and projects that are never finished.
When we realize that life itself is always pin-worthy, madness and all, then nothing can steal our joy. No post. No board. Nobody. Go be free to be you. The most un-pinterest version there is and discover that it’s actually pretty delightful!