I joke that they’ll write tell-all books about me.
That one day these children of mine will be full grown and will share their stories with therapists over how awkwardly I fumbled through motherhood: too loud, too quiet, too harsh, too lenient, too many trips to McDonalds, too few, too inconsistent, too much work, too much yelling, too many dishes left in the sink until the morning, too many overflowing hampers, too many late nights, too many rushed mornings when their dad and I get up with *just* enough time to get ourselves out the door and then remember that there are four little humans who need to be bathed/clothed/brushed/fed/shoes tied too…and on and on.
Oh, the list of my parenting/motherhood/womanhood, folly. It’s long.
Earlier this week, I shared this status on my personal Facebook:
“At first I was annoyed by the person who didn’t put their grocery cart away, as I started my van to go home and drove forward two feet, right into it.
Then I realized, the person was me.
And the groceries were all still in it.”
It received more “likes” and comments than anything I’ve shared in months.
I shared it, because it was hysterical to me, and if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re going to be miserable.
Laughing at myself and my weaknesses, at my (many) moments of motherhood when I am so far from perfect, it’s what I do. Together with my friends, it’s what we do.
It’s why so many people “liked” my Trader Joe’s parking lot status and left comments like, “classic mom moment.”
Out with friends, sharing plates of corn chips, and enjoying rare nights away from kids, we laugh about our shortcomings. We one-up each other. No really, I’m the worst at X Y or Z…you haven’t seen MY bedroom…Oh, I’ve just given up (on x, y, or z)…But they’ll all be alright, won’t they? They’ll survive.
But, perhaps the better question is, will we?
Not, will we survive our children, because we will. They’re going to grow up just fine, we all did and our parents were probably about as put together as we are (they just don’t have the blogs or internet footprint to show for it.)
And most of our children won’t ever even go on to pen tell-all books about how we ruined them by status-updating their every move, or by letting them go to Target with their shirt on backwards and their fly down, or any of the other less-than-perfect moments.
But, my question is, will we survive the way that we treat ourselves and the language we use to talk about ourselves, in the process?
In our lexicon, we now have the term Mommy-brain and Mommy-fail.
Okay. I work a lot, and I’m easily distracted by big ideas and exciting prospects, and so, I don’t know that I can completely credit motherhood with all of my less-than-put-together moments. But, sure, I can admit, motherhood may have had a hand in clouding my brain. I have left my coffee in the microwave for four hours only to find it, cold and waiting for me, as I go to heat vegetables for dinner. I have had my moments like the parking lot.
Really? Why is that an thing?
I’m all for self-deprecation for the sake of humor, but sometimes, I wonder, how many punches can we land before we start to actually bruise? And in our culture of self-deprecation and the stripping of motherhood from the ranks of respected Queen of the Household to Court Jester – are we able to hold onto our true worth, even as we continually talk ourselves down as fumbling and bumbling and awkward and unsure…and failing?
Because, we are, actually, valuable assets to our families and others, and as women, as people, we are unique and inspiring and capable and strong.
We are not lists of mommy-brain moments and mommy-fails.
This morning, my best friend is walking through the anticipatory last days of her final pregnancy. Her house is not spotless. Her children have been known to wear short pants in the winter and the backward polo or two. She struggles through the stages of motherhood, like me, (like you too, probably.) She’s open and honest and completely imperfect in ways that are wonderful and refreshing.
But in thinking about her this morning, waiting for contractions to turn into “the moment,” about to go through labor one-more-time. About all of the quiet before the loud. About all of the ways that we, as women, push our bodies and ourselves beyond where we think we can go. About the gift of life we help bring forth, worth every hard-earned moment of struggle.
And about every long, late night that bleeds into early dawn. Every snuggle that turns into sleeping upright on the couch with a baby on your chest. Every warm, soft moment that will all too quickly grow and turn into grouchy, stumbling mornings of school work left undone and refrigerators in need of restocking and something sticky in someone’s hair and baths when there’s no time or hot water left for bathing.
I can’t help but think – short of truly failing your children by means of abuse or abandonment – nothing she, or any of us do, with or for our children should be considered failure.
Pinterest-fail – yes.
Pinterest is made for failure.
No. I won’t. I can’t.
I love this, thank you!
Thank YOU, Justine. 🙂
This is so good. I’m having my first baby in July and have been thinking the same thing about the way I talk about and laugh at my pregnant body rather than respecting it for the incredible things it has shown me it can do. Thanks for this reminder to respect ourselves and the roles we fill.
Congratulations on your first baby, Kari Ann!
Laughing at ourselves is good medicine, sometimes. But respecting ourselves and our bodies and appreciating everything that we mean to others too, (whether we think we’re failing or not,) that’s so important.
At least, I think. 🙂