Have you ever watched another mother with her kids, and felt like she was Superwoman? Or have you ever idolized another mom because they were such a Marvel of Maternal Instincts, who made the Hardest/Most Rewarding Job In The World look easy? I’ll be honest with you–I have. I’ve seen some incredibly strong, wonderful, beautiful women become mothers over the past few years, and sometimes simply being in their presence makes me awestruck at what incredible women and mothers they are. They’re not necessarily the Pinterest-Crafting, Organic-Feeding, Attachment-Parenting Supermothers. They are just amazing women that really have an air of confidence with this mom-gig, that makes them look like they really have their shit together.
It’s not that I don’t think I’m a good mother–I do. My kids are my whole heart, and I truly believe they know how much they are loved each day. The challenge is, that there are days where despite my best efforts, I’m nothing short of a clusterfuck, and I feel like I’m winging this whole motherhood game.
Then one day, shortly after having my second child, something happened. Another young mother who I’d never met before approached me on the street as I was walking my dog, pushing my toddler in a stroller, and wearing my infant son.
“I’ve seen you walking with your dog and your kids almost every day, and you make it look so easy. You’ve inspired me to get out and walk my dog–because if you can do it with two kids, I can do it with one. And by the way, what brand of baby wrap is that? Can you tell me which ones are good? And what is the best way to keep your baby warm in this weather? I need to learn!”
I felt like a compete and utter fraud. This woman was paying me such a huge compliment–and how flattering that in some small way I inspired her. Little did she know that I had spent the morning completely disheveled, with a colicky infant who would NOT STOP screaming, and that the baby wrap was the only thing that would calm him. I know nothing about baby wraps or attachment parenting, or which wraps make you a Good Mother. This was a secondhand baby wrap from a friend who once had an infant that was just as colicky as mine. That as much as I wanted to down a few glasses of wine, curl up under a blanket, and sleep for thirty minutes, the dog needed to be walked, and I needed the baby to stop screaming so I would maintain some semblance of sanity. That I really was not totally sure if my son was warm enough–I just grabbed whatever outfit I could from his closet and bundled him as quickly and efficiently as possible so we could all get the fuck out of the house.
In that moment, where I felt like the World’s Biggest Impostor, I had an epiphany: the truth is, that none of us really have our shit together.
From the outside looking in, sometimes other moms (anyone but ourselves, really), can be this elusive Super-Mother. Because we all get overwhelmed by the massive job that is raising young children, and let’s face it–sometimes a job just looks easier when someone else is doing it.
One of my good friends recently had her third baby right around the time I had my second. We spent a couple of hours together with our babies last fall, and I did the walk with her to go pick up her two toddler sons from school. As she seamlessly got both of her boys to obediently leave the playground and climb in the standing stroller (OK, maybe she offered them a small bribe with a sip of her Starbucks frappuccino), I stood there in awe. In fact, I have completely been in awe of her since having her third–she truly does make it look easy. She does this with three kids every day. She was wearing her 5-month-old baby, and singlehandedly pushing the standing stroller with the other hand, while balancing a Starbucks beverage in the other hand.
I remarked “Do you know what the most impressive thing is about what you’re doing right now?”
She laughed “Carrying a Starbucks right??!!”
Yes–it was true….but my comment back to her was “No, seriously, I don’t know how you do it. You appear so relaxed, so unphased for a woman who has three children under five. You made that pick-up look so easy.”
But then she said something that completely resonated with me: “Today felt easier because you were with me–I knew if any of my kids gave me a hard time about leaving, that I had backup.” I related to this statement so well. With the many nights spent alone with a toddler and a colicky infant, due to my husband’s heavy work travel, I ask for help a lot. And on some days, having an extra set of hands is not as necessary as just having someone near you in case you get overwhelmed. In case you need help.
This is a friend who I connect with so well, and we have always exchanged brutally honest stories about the most difficult parts of parenting. And to be honest, her admission that having backup made her feel more relaxed has made me no less in awe of her–I am still blown away by how she balances everything. Her comment just reminded me that no matter how easy someone else makes the Mom Business look, we ALL struggle. We all have doubts. We all have immensely difficult days. We also infinitely rewarding days.
But the truth is, none of us really have our shit together, all the time. And that’s OK. That’s why there’s a village.