You know the mom you see at school pickup who is impeccably dressed, whose kids’ clothes are colour-coordinated (and – surprise, surprise - clean), who has registered for summer camps by January, who brings home-baked goods to every playdate, and who never seems fazed by tantrums, accidents or playground antics? The one who makes it look so easy? We all know one. Or two. Or at least we think we do. It’s the mom you’re terrified to become friends with because it would become so glaringly obvious that you don’t have your shit together, that you are not a perfect mother.
Well, I’d be willing to bet that if you really got to know that mom, she’d laugh at your description of her. And she might just turn the tables back on you.
The other day I was chatting with a bunch of fellow moms about the challenges of motherhood. It was a very frank conversation, one of those discussions where one person airs their worries and struggles, which opens the floodgates for all to share what they’ve been going through. It wasn’t a sob session or a forum to complain about motherhood. What it showed us all was that motherhood really is a level playing field.
One of the moms remarked that it was such a relief to hear that we all have these kinds of doubts and difficulties, that it’s so easy to look around and think, “Wow, she just has it all together. She makes it look so easy,” when we ourselves feel like we’re the only ones holding on some days by a very thin thread.
After that chat, I realized that despite the fact I have a great support network, and a lot of friends who go through similar parenting ups and downs, I still look at other mothers and berate myself for not being as “together” as them, for not having that “earth mother glow” they seem to exude as they ease through challenging moments with their kids. I certainly would NEVER have thought that I was “that mom” in someone else’s eyes.
Having someone tell me I always seem organized and composed (insert hysterical laughter here), and that I was the picture of a calm parent (more hysterical laughter, now coming from my husband…) made me do a spit-take.
But it also made me appreciate the power of talking about our issues, of being open about motherhood. Parenting is joyous. It is profound. I have discovered depths of love and happiness that are immeasurable. I mean, who doesn’t want to take pride in a kid’s great report card or share our child’s immeasurable and breathtaking cuteness. But we’re not always so quick to step up to the plate about the uglier moments of parenting, of our reactions to certain situations, of how we cope with the struggles. Because let’s face it, as much as it is joyous and profound, motherhood can be hard and frustrating and can test the patience of saints.
So, the next time you see that mom who you think “has it all together,” strike up a conversation. The more we talk to each other, the more we realize that we’re all in this together and that we all face the same challenges. Some days we’re “that mom” who handles things seamlessly, and other days, we’re the ones that are hanging on by a thread.
I spent the first week back after the holidays in a state of gratitude. Thankful for my family, for my circumstances, for my freedom to work in a career I love, for living in a city that I adore, for my health, for my amazing friends, the list keeps going and going.
You know those days or weeks when you are acutely aware of how lucky you are? So happy that you’re afraid to say it out loud in case you somehow jinx yourself? It was one of those.
I sent out a tweet asking what other people are thankful for and the responses were wide-ranging and beautiful. From fresh starts in life to the power of nature to family and friends, it appeared that a little prompt in a tweet opened a flow of gratitude.
I’ve written before about the power of gratitude, but more and more I discover that it really has no limits. It’s contagious and exponential. The more you are thankful for all that you have in your life, the more you realize you have to be thankful for.
Even in the darkest hours, gratitude can offer us a glimmer of light. And on a day or week or month when it’s a struggle to say positive, the ability to find small things to be thankful for can make all the difference.
So why not at the end of each day write down three things you are thankful for? Whether you have a notebook by the side of your bed, an app on your phone, or a service like happyrambles.com that emails you each night to ask you what you’re thankful for, let yourself recognize the people and moments and things that make your day.
And let me know: what are you thankful for today?