October 7, 2015
To The Slightly Better Than Average Mom
Posted by Steph
Some days you just wake up defeated.
Not because of anything intrinsically bad about the day. Rather, you ended the previous day in defeat. As parents we've all had them: long, unending days that start with a fumble - a spilled milk, the wrong shirt, fighting over who gets to brush their teeth first - and that fumble dominos into a catastrophic and unstoppable Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day chain of events.
On these days, it's everything you can do to wipe up the spilled milk to the din of fighting from the bathroom, only to have to grab a bandage for the scraped knee that just happened as the kids hurried down the stairs. It's a war zone: every mom for herself, triaging one disaster after another and HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU IT'S NOT OKAY TO BITE YOUR BROTHER OR THE DOG?
You're lucky to get lunch on the table, let alone the perfectly sculpted aquatic-themed lunch your friend Susie posted on Facebook, complete with cute fish cut out of cheese and hotdog octopuses. In this world of social media, where everyone can conveniently share only the greatest parts of themselves - the shining victories, the pictures of perfection- it's really easy to believe that if parenthood was a class that was graded, you'd be racking up a big fat F.
But, as our friend Titus Andromedon says on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, it's all smoke and mirrors. A facade. A lie. We live in a high pressure Pinterest Perfect World where it's almost wrong to share our frustrations and failures. We don't share our struggles with postpartum depression. We don't share the moments where we cry in helplessness as our baby cries. We don't share the real photos of our bedrooms with unmade beds and dust accumulated like an inch of snow on the top of our dressers. We don't share that we've spent more time yelling than laughing in the past 24 hour time period. We don't share that sometimes we miss our pre-kids life. We don't share that some weeks are spent glaring instead of gazing at our partner across table.
Instead, we agonize over the carefully and purposely depicted perfect lives of those in our newsfeeds that we will never live up to. Their elation as a new mom. Their magazine-ready homes. Their Ina Garten-eqse meals. Their married selfies in the amber glow of a setting sun. We scroll, unable to shake the sinking feeling that everyone else has got this whole winning at life thing figured out while we flounder like a fish on dry land.
The struggle is real. And I don't mean that in a light-hearted meme kind of way. Struggle. Is. Real. It's part of life. And we all face it, whether we choose to admit it or not. Imagine how unattractive Pinterest would be if we shared the most real parts of ourselves. Unattractive, maybe. But so, so beautifully real. Because there is beauty in unity, in realizing you are not alone. That, yes, the struggle is real, but it is also universal and we're all in this together.
We're all in this together.
So, to the parents who went to bed defeated, who woke up slightly broken: you are winning today. The milk might be spilled. The kids may be fighting. The marriage might have tensions. And the walls of the shower may be slick with grime and begging to be cleaned. But you didn't dial it in today. You showed up. And the lunches may not be themed or perfectly sculpted, but it's made. You may not make it to the gym today, but you walked 5 miles around your living room to get your baby to sleep And you might yell more often than you'd like, but you're here.
Your kids won't remember made beds and clean floors. They'll remember the muffins you made with them, which left crumbs on the counter. They'll remember the joke you told them when they cut their hand. They'll remember snuggling with you on the couch watching a TV show before bed. They'll remember the chaos of hurrying out the door to get to school on time.
Go confidently into the mess that is today. Remember that life is lived in the boring and mundane. Our memories won't be Pinterest Perfect, but they will be warm, imperfect and real.
What matters most is who is in them.
Here's to the slightly-better-than-average parents.