I’m just a girl in sweat pants with a period stain and a luke warm cup of coffee. The only thing I am an expert on is spot cleaning yoga pants, dry shampoo, and keepin’ it real. I know you’re probably wondering what I did to win at life like this and I have to break it to you; IT HAS NOT BEEN EASY. You cannot just get these dark circles under your eyes all easy peasy. This has taken a lot of hard work, determination, and unprotected sex.
I took this picture today because I want to remember the messy, hard, falling apart days of mothering.
This is me after one of my kids had a giant public meltdown. The kind where I carried her flailing and kicking past teachers and students, and then put on a little show in the corner of the school yard for all who enjoy watching a mom try and tame a wildcat.
Don’t enjoy every moment. Instead, find one moment a day to cherish.
I want to level with you: It’s hard to let the crumbs be, the future be, the to-do list be, the wrestling with demons just BE.
It’s hard to be still. It’s hard to be present. I wish it wasn’t, but it is.
Have you ever felt tiny fingers massage your shoulders? Have you ever pressed your face against a ponytail that smells of sunshine and wild whimsy? Have you ever listened to the off key tune from a 7yo lost in her own world? Have you ever brushed against magic and forgot in an instant what it felt like?
This motherhood it has floored me; it has undone me, and I still forget. In seconds, I forget.
When I watch them lost in a game of make believe or they tell me a story that makes me realize they’re growing up, I remember. I remember the privilege it is to be a part of this story, this unfolding adventure.
Something is bugging me today. I have fire in my gut, and I have something I need to say:
Motherhood gets to be what we say it is. Being a woman gets to be what WE MAKE IT. We decide, we’re in charge…so let’s take it back.
Pinterest says there’s 10 ways to get our butt in shape, there’s 25 ways to have the abs of our dreams, there’s 4 ways to cook the perfect meal, and there’s a million ways to be “better”.
I call B.S..
Sometimes between babies, and school drop off, and long nights followed by longer days…we lose ourselves. We lose ourselves in the beautiful messy process that is motherhood. We are willing to let ourselves go (mostly). We’re willing to stumble around in sweat pants, sipping luke warm coffee while we pick toys up off the floor. We are willing to give up half (85%) of our blankets for a middle of the night intruder. WE ARE WILLING because never have we ever loved like this, but sometimes, we miss ourselves, and that’s okay too.
It’s okay to look in the mirror and wonder what happened to the woman you knew.
It’s okay to miss her and to want her back.
I’ve been there.
There is an article circulating about how to talk to your daughter about her body (don’t).
I love the premise of this, and it makes a lot of great points, but there’s a big BUT for me.
There is always going to be the question in every little girl’s (and boy’s) heart, the one that says, “am I enough?” Part of that, eventually, is going to be “am I beautiful?” and “is my body okay?” We might not want that to be the case, but unfortunately in our culture, it IS the case.
My issue is this:
If I don’t answer that question, someone else will.
I know you mean well, I really do.
But please, FOR THE LOVE, stop with the unsolicited parenting advice.
We all have different ways of parenting, and there’s not one way to do any of it. Choosing the way you raise your kids is deeply personal, and although “it takes a village”, respect is an important part of supporting moms and dads on their journey.
As a rule of thumb, advice is not needed unless it’s asked for, and here’s why:
We have already overthought everything there is to overthink and we are damn tired.
Types of advice to avoid:
The indirect advice: This is when someone doesn’t give you advice directly, but instead says, “Ohhh you should tell your mommy to cover your toesies so you don’t get a cold”, or “say ‘mommy I need a bigger coat'”. PLEASE, please, don’t ever do that again. This probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to you at all, and I’m sure you aren’t trying to be insulting, BUT to a Mom who is hanging on by a thread it feels like a major diss. I guarantee that Mama is trying to do her very best, and she’s already being hard on herself, so please don’t add to it.
The “it was very easy for me” advice: This usually comes from someone who has babysat for you. It’s the “I just did 1+2+3 and they went to bed for me no problem” or “I just put the peas on his plate and he ate them like a champ!” or “She tried to give me attitude and I just said “NO” and she stopped right away!” I know this is well intentioned and you’re excited to share the “magic ingredient” you’ve discovered, but let me tell you the real magic ingredient: you aren’t the mom. Crap like that works for you because you aren’t the one who is there every day, all day. Honestly any “easy” fix is kind of insulting because it suggests we’ve never tried that – and trust me, 98% of the time WE HAVE.
Discipline advice: Nope. Just nope. If we want help with that, we will ask.
Compare your kid to ours: KIDS ARE NOT THE SAME. The comparison game happens a lot to me with my strong willed firecracker. I often hear “you just need to draw the line and leave the store if that happens and she won’t do that anymore” or “you should stop giving them everything they want.” Listen I have walked out of more stores than I can count, and the reason she’s tantruming is BECAUSE I told her no. There is no magic set of techniques that *waaalaaaa* get rid of obnoxious behavior in every kid, it takes a lot more patience and persistance with some kids.
Types of advice to give:
The kind that’s asked for.
I know it’s hard (especially if you love us), but please try…for us.
We need support so badly during this time of raising littles. We are constantly doubting ourselves, and wondering if we are doing enough. The best thing you can do for us is to be encouraging, and present, and bite your tongue when you want to quickly “fix it”. Motherhood has made us raw and vulnerable, and things you might think are “no big deal” to say, actually make us feel pretty crappy.
The thing is, if you can hold off on advice that isn’t asked for, you may very well become a safe place for us, and it’s possible that when we do need ideas…
We will ask you.
“I’m a good mom, like a really good mom.” I wrote those words the other day and I felt a heaviness I didn’t know was there lift off my shoulders. The words look foreign on the page. Can I say that? I wondered. Am I an imposter if I say that?
I just snapped at my son for getting slime on the couch. That doesn’t seem very goodmomish.
Then I read the words again and I owned them: I AM a good mom, like a REALLY GOOD mom. The same feeling came. RELIEF, FREEDOM, tears rose in my throat and threatened to come out.
I’m a good mom even when I snap at my son and his slime fingers.
Who even told me that I was a bad mom? I wondered.
My kids are growing up. My oldest is a preteen and my littlest is four…and suddenly they don’t need me as much anymore.
They need me, but not like they used to.
They don’t need me to rock them to sleep, or to swaddle them. They don’t need me to nurse them, or help to put on their shoes.