This is probably my favorite picture of my kids. It’s 5 years old but I still drag it out about once a month, when a mom friend needs solidarity, or just when I feel like I’m getting too big for my mom britches. Pictured: husband away on a weeklong work trip; frazzled mother, having single-parented for a whole week (that’s me!), losing my bananas at my poor daughter after I discovered she CUT HER BANGS OFF (omg); and son crying over a shampoo bottle that toppled onto him. I swear the longer you look at it the funnier it gets.
(Disclaimer: no children, parents, or bangs were permanently damaged during the nonsense depicted in this photo.)
Motherhood, y’all. It. Is. Messy.
For those of us who have been conditioned our entire lives to be Pinterest-perfect, this can be a hard pill to swallow. As I regularly tell my friend Vanessa, you’re not doing anything wrong, it just really is this hard. Raising these humans is REAL – it’s real-life, it’s real hard, and it’s real messy. Let me tell you what I know about Real Moms:
- PERHAPS shout more than is technically necessary.
- Stay awake at night worrying if they’re screwing things up.
- Do occasionally use their electronic device as brain candy (and *maybe* let their children do the same. Occasionally.)(I know you’re shocked.)
- Spew all sorts of ridiculous statements such as, “My kid will never drink that!” and “I’ll never let my kid eat that!” and my favorite: “My child will NEVER act like THAT in public.” (Spoiler alert – they will, you will, and they totally will.)
- Zone out a little bit when their kid starts talking about the finer intricacies of Pokemon/Minecraft/Shopkins.
- Wonder constantly if they should quit their job and stay home – or if they should go back to work. Lather, rinse, repeat.
- Stay up way too late reading or scrolling or watching, just to have 30 minutes of time with their own thoughts. Then we wonder why we need 3 cups of coffee in the morning.
- Don’t always sign every “assigned reading” log. Sometimes Real Moms even round up those reading logs, say from 0 minutes to 20 minutes. SO I HEARD. Ahem.
- Love those little monsters with every breath of their being but also are pretty happy when they go to sleep.
When I think about Real Moms I’m reminded of the story the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams: “When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real… Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Most of the time I too feel a little shabby and more than a little worn out – in every sense of the word. Perhaps you can relate? But you know what? I like to think that’s what makes me a Real Mom. I hope my kids see that even though I’m far from perfect, I try and I care. Our house may never be spotlessly clean or perfectly decorated, but we do real-life there together. I feel like the Hot Mess Express sometimes, zipping from a meeting to a school function, to work, to sports practice, but that’s just real life. I am frazzled, it is hard some days, but we’re making it work. It’s not perfect but it’s real.
So I urge you, mamas: step away from the Pinterest-perfect. Step away from this misguided expectation that every photo on your camera roll should have the perfect light and a clean house in the background and perfectly coiffed hair. Step far, far away from the fear that you are screwing your kids up with your imperfection. Instead, lean – deeply – into this real, messy life, this gift you have been given.
Keep it real, mamas.