At church, nobody remains quiet. They know how to be quiet. We've been here a zillion times before. I'm not sure what's new here, but somehow they are not privy to the rules of church that state Thou Shalt Be SILENT.
At the restaurant, OK McDonald's (because let's face it, as a busy mom who has to run to the bank, the store and get a child's hair cut before Picture Day, McD's is the best thing for dinner) ... they are running, interrupting me as I place the order, and fooling around with the air machine to dry our hands in the bathroom.
I've fed them peanut butter and jelly for dinner a few nights ago because it's all that was in the house, due to no energy to take two busy kids to the grocery store.
We've skipped bath night, even when their fingernails showed they needed to clean up, because it was easier to just get everyone into bed on time instead of doing bath AND bed routine solo.
The dishes piled up several days in a row, because well, nobody likes doing dishes.
The living room... don't get me started. I've tripped on toys several times and almost broke an ankle, I swear.
I think the TV was on too much yesterday afternoon after nobody would nap, and all I wanted was peace and quiet.
I've forgotten to clean out the Take Home folder from school. A few days in a row.
I've received the email to add more money to my son's lunch account because there's nothing in there. And yet I've still have not added money to it, because I keep remembering to do this at the most inopportune times.
I may have tossed out some artwork because I spilled food on it and felt terrible, but could not spend time saving it.
The laundry gets cleaned but sometimes not folded until days later, all wrinkly, because folding takes forever, and quite frankly, we moms, we don't have forever to spend on folding clothes that will be taken out of the folded pile in like 12 hours so they can wear, dirty, and put back into the laundry bucket hours later. Arg.
Some mornings I feel like I'm walking a tightrope, balancing everything that motherhood throws at me.
Parenting is so hard. It's really challenging. There are seasons to it, phases that don't last forever, even in the middle of them you know they'll be over soon... yet soon seems so far away when you're feeling defeated, like you can't get anything right.
You feel guilty, like you are not enough. It feels like everyone is staring at you. And in some cases, they really are looking at you, glaring, seeing if you are messing up, watching to see your mistakes, because they don't yet get it. They aren't parents, perhaps. They haven't been here, done that... a zillion frustrating times like you have.
You feel like you're failing at this motherhood thing. Time and again, you wonder, am I screwing this up? Am I messing them up? Am I doing anything right?
And those are the moments that typically, I've found, that another person - most often a mother - comes to show me that yes, I'm doing all right after all. Just when I need it. Just when I desperately NEED someone to say, you aren't all that bad, Mama, you're just struggling.
You aren't failing, you're fighting. You are fighting with all your might, to be a great mom.
You're fighting to be good, kind, thoughtful, sweet, dedicated, caring, supportive, the caregiver you want for your children. You're trying to teach them how to be a good person, how to listen to adults, how to be responsible. You're keeping them healthy and happy - a huge job in itself. You're protecting them from the bad of the world. You are keeping them safe and secure, comfortable, confident. You're encouraging their growth, cheering them on.
You are doing a zillion things right, Mama. This I know for sure.
You're fighting. Fighting to keep awake, despite being woken up too many times last night you lost track of how many hours you actually slept. Fighting to be the person your kids rely on, trust, open up to, and turn to when they need someone.
You're fighting to teach them right from wrong - even if that means raising your voice at the tough stuff and sticking to the consequences that you feel so terrible adhering to. You're fighting to keep it together - mentally, emotionally, physically. You're trying so hard to keep your cool, prevent yourself from yelling, to apologize when you know you've messed up.
You're trying to keep back the tears, the ones you're forcing shut when you close your eyes and take a huge deep breath, repeating to yourself that this too shall pass, this tough phase, the one that's a struggle right now, someday soon you'll look back and realize you did it, you made it through, you fought and won.
I listed all the things I did wrong... well, how about the times that I gave them snacks I knew they'd want on the car ride? Or how I made sure they are strapped into safe car seats, or washed their hair in the tub the way they wanted me to, not getting water in their eyes? How about that I made sure they remembered their vitamin and brushing teeth and that I wiped butts 15 times in a day? I made sure they had shoes that fit and I held their hands crossing the street. I laughed and snuggled them, told them I love them a few times too many in a day. I made sure there were veggies and fruits, and I wiped their tears as they fell on the ground outside.
I did a zillion things right today, too. It wasn't all bad. In fact, I bet if someone kept track, they would find more good than bad. They'd find happy kids who love their Mama and know that she adores them, despite the hard moments.
You're not failing, you're fighting. Fighting to be a really great mother.
And when we fight, well it shows our strength and courage and perseverance. It proves our dedication. But it sure as hell is not pretty or perfect or tied up with pretty ribbons, is it? It's raw and real and messy, chaotic and overwhelming. It's parenting. It's tough stuff.
In church, the pastor saw me struggling last weekend. She emailed me to say she could see we are great parents, we're doing a great job, and our kids are perfectly fine. I cried, so relieved someone else 1) saw the struggle, that we aren't alone, that we were recognizable as good parents despite the crazy and 2) that we're OK.
At the restaurant, the lady taking my order didn't roll her eyes or sigh or get impatient. Instead, she told the kids their milk was coming soon. She made jokes and kept them laughing. I was grateful, thankful for the help even if just for a moment.
When getting the hair cut, with kids losing their minds, past bed time, at peak Meltdown City Moment, the woman was beyond patient, sweet, hilarious and offering up stickers and lollipops to my busy kids if they could sit still and listen to her. It was their best hair cut yet! I wanted to hug her, appreciative of her taking the stress away for a moment.
It's nice to be understood, for someone to get you, especially as a mother.
Here's what I know: Yes, there are the judgers. They are out there for mothers, just like they're out there for everyone else. It's sad, but true. Yet, I see more supporters. I honestly do. If you are open to seeing it, to realizing that you aren't alone, that others have been where you are, you'll find them. The moms who have been where you are and who smile at you as if to say, "Mama, you aren't alone. You're great. Keep up the good work. This will get easier. Promise. I was there. You will survive, too."
So, moms, despite the challenges, remember you aren't failing. Keep fighting. Keep trying your best. Know it's not real to be perfect. We all struggle. Our kids still love us, despite our flaws.
Hugs, Moms. You aren't alone.