I owe some apologies.
Maybe a lot of apologies.
You see, there was once a time when I didn’t have kids, and I knew everything about everything. There was a season when all around me, women were blossoming into motherhood, and I sat by the sidelines as an observer. And though I never would have said it out loud, I passed my silent judgment. I rolled my eyes and smirked. I declared a long list of things I would never do as a mother.
And I’m sorry.
Because here I am a few years–and a couple of kids–later eating my words and hoping the world treats me a little more kindly than I might deserve as I muddle through this new role of “mom” (and “wife” and “friend” and “teacher” and “do-er of all the things”).
So I’m sorry for those I might have judged unfairly. In an irony that I assure you is not lost on me, I look in the mirror now and see myself in all of these women I once knew.
To the mom who disappeared. You were my friend, and then–it seemed–you were gone. Wrapped up in this new life of motherhood. But I see now how quickly it eats away at that space of time for *you* and how that often requires the forfeit of your own relationships. How the nap schedules and errands and endless chores and pure exhaustion make it so very hard to keep and maintain those important friendships.
Please know, I understand now. And I’m still here for you.
When life settles down, or the kids are in school, or you just need to laugh with someone who remembers the fun we had back in the good ol’ days… There is no expiration date on our friendship.
To the mom who was a hot mess. The one who showed up late with mismatched shoes and tangled hair. Who needed to borrow a ______ again because she just didn’t get it packed this morning. Or asked for just one more reminder of the details for that important event and maybe a hand with that project whose deadline was fast approaching.
I get it now.
There’s just no way to fit it all in. The insurmountable list of demands and expectations, all the details of managing the lives of yourself and your family and balancing the mental load of motherhood, not to mention anything else beyond the walls of your home.
And even though you may feel like you’re balancing a million plates that are spinning out of control, I’m here to tell you that you ARE doing it, and you are succeeding in far more ways than you can see yourself.
To the mom who sold all that stuff. The one who posted about “boss babes” and “hustling.” The one who invited me to that thing again (to buy stuff, of course). The one whose life has never been the same since discovering _________ product.
You know what?
Way more awesome than whatever it is you’re selling (though I’m sure that’s pretty cool too).
And I get it.
You’ve found something you love and have made it work for you to help meet that ridiculous pressure we all feel of balancing work life and time at home, of having the flexibility to spend time together and the freedom to meet all the financial needs that keep piling up.
The truth is… most of us are just trying to make it. So keep on hustling to pay for those dance lessons and date nights, medical bills and pint-sized sneakers (for real, how do kids go through so many shoes???). I know we all just want to give the best we can to our families.
And the next time I need leggings/makeup/jewelry/books/tea/bags/supplements/magic in a bottle… you’re my girl.
To the mom who complained. The one whose house was a mess, whose kids were driving her crazy, and whose husband… well, don’t get her started. The one who joked about hiding in the pantry with a bottle of wine (but probably wasn’t joking). The one who shared articles about how hard #momlife is or how awesome and self-sacrificing moms are or how society just doesn’t give moms a break or how moms should be center of the universe forever. To the one who said “just you wait.”
Okay, okay, yes. You were right.
At least somewhat. And in a way that no #momlife article could have ever fully explained.
The struggles and joys are different for each situation, but the truth is…. this is hard. Like… SO hard. Like… “How did no one tell me this was coming?” hard.
Except you did, didn’t you?
You won’t like every day of motherhood, and sometimes you just need someone to see and acknowledge your struggle. To say, “YES. What you are doing is difficult and challenging and full of sacrifice. It is also amazing and rewarding and worth it. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard.”
So thank you. Because when I find myself Googling “hate my mom life” as I eat a bag of M&Ms on the bathroom floor where the children can’t find me, I remember that (even though you wouldn’t say it), you told me so. And if nothing else, I know that I’m not alone.
To the mom who became an activist. The one who switched to a 100% organic/vegan/unicorn tears diet. Had a natural birth at the foot of a sacred Native American waterfall. Championed breastfeeding and co-sleeping until at least age 20. Shouted in all caps about maternity leave laws, health insurance, and the scientifically appropriate age to get your child an iPad.
Thank you for standing up for what you believe in. For educating me on topics I might not have explored. For developing your expertise and sharing it with me. While we might not always agree, you saved me countless hours of research, often saved me from having to learn some of these things “the hard way,” and taught me the the value of being passionate about the choices I make for my family.
To the mom who “let herself go.” The one whose baby weight overstayed its welcome or whose trendy fashion sense gave way to sweatpants and a general acceptance of baby spit-up on her attire. Your make-up drawer is dusty with disuse and you ask yourself on a regular basis how long it has been since your last shower. (“Oh, I already had a shower this week? I’m good.”)
I see you.
Not the you that looks back from your mirror. Not the one who seems too tired, too heavy, too frumpy, too far from perfect in your own eyes. Not the one who is too lost in a sea of other people’s needs to find time for herself. Not the one who is battling hormones and exhaustion and the overwhelming feeling that there is never enough time.
I see the you that is strong and beautiful in ways too deep to describe. Who has poured herself out in love to her family. Who has had to make sacrifices to meet the needs of the day. Who has been stretched (literally and figuratively) by motherhood and who is still finding out who she is in this phase of life. I see the you who is brave, strong, smart, and capable of navigating the difficulties of this season. I see the you that makes your child’s face light up with joy and your sweetheart’s eye twinkle.
And I hope that you see her too.
To the mom who raised me. The one I’ve known my entire life, in good times and bad. The one who was my first introduction to motherhood.
You weren’t perfect. And if I ever expected you to be, I’m sorry. I know that I’m not, and I can only hope my children will extend me a little grace for all of the mistakes I’m sure to make. And I’m sorry for the times I failed to do that for you.
The truth is… I see that there aren’t always black and white answers from where I stand as a mother. I know now that every decision is just an attempt to do the best you can with what’s available to you, to help your kids turn into the best humans they can be, to cover them with love and not lose yourself on the journey, to meet the gauntlet of needs and desires, hopes and dreams, disappointments and hard luck one day at a time.
And though I’m not always good at saying it, I appreciate all you did for me.
Now more than ever.
Every diaper change and sleepless night. Every play time on the floor. Every birthday party planned with love. Every bedtime story at night and silly song in the bathtub. Every “yes” in the toy aisle when it really wasn’t on the budget. Every dinner made (or ordered) after a hard day. Every tear shed over difficult decisions and frustration that things weren’t going right. Every hug that made it seem certain that everything was going to be okay.
As I live these moments with my children now, I find myself thinking of how it must have been for you as you walked through my little years. And at the end of the day, I hope they will forgive me where I fail and take with them only the memory of my love for them.
Because that’s what I remember.
And in case I haven’t said it, thank you for being a good mom.
And thank you to all the moms who went before me. Who showed me a little of what was to come. Who kept their heads high in the presence of this snarky, naive, know-it-all. Who amaze me to this day as I sloppily make my own way through the world of motherhood.
You are more amazing than you’ll ever know, and I’m sorry if I ever doubted your awesomeness. Cheers.