“I’m for sure losing my shit over this nap bullshit today.”
So started an awesome and epic voicemail left by a dear friend. Her kid is two. I get it. Some other awesome quotes from the nearly 3 min long voicemail include…“Oh my GOD!”, “I don’t know, I just don’t know!”, and “What the fuuuuuck!?!”. There was a lot of nervous (borderline insane?) laughter.
This frantic call happened to be about naps. It could have been about any number of toddler issues including, but not limited to: foods they won’t eat, foods they must have right now, wrinkles in socks, bedtime routine, going potty, doing something themselves, refusing to do something themselves, pacifiers, lovies, screen time, nose blowing, hand washing, hair brushing, teeth brushing, the blue cup or the green cup or the spoon not the fork…the list is endless. Because, well, toddler. But I am actually not here to talk about toddler “issues” (check out this post for that) or even nap issues. Nope, I want to talk about her feelings and her truths and how she’s perfectly normal being imperfect….
My friend, it should be noted before we begin, is a kickass mom. She juggles a lot and she makes it look easy and her kid is freaking awesome. But she was having a rough day, she was having a hard time figuring out her child and she was having a little meltdown of her own. (We’ve all been there before. Here’s my epic meltdown confession.) And so she called me. Now, maybe she thinks I’m some kid-whisperer (nope!) or that I have all the answers (bwhahahaha!) or I know some voo-doo to make kids nap (I wish!). But really, she needed someone to whom she could vent and be honest, she needed someone to hear her and not judge, someone who would commiserate and just listen with an occasional “been there” or “that sucks”.
Listen, please: you are not alone and your feelings are normal and sometimes you yell or get frustrated or don’t especially like your kid. That is ok. YOU ARE OK!
Let me say it again: YOU ARE OK! YOU ARE NORMAL! YOUR FEELINGS ARE VALID!
This is especially true for new mommas or moms who feel isolated or those that think they are the only ones feeling however it is they are feeling. I assure you, you are not alone. You are not the only one. And there is nothing wrong with you. What is wrong, is our society. We have created this culture of “perfectness” and we see perfectly adorable Instagram posts and perfectly made crafts on Pinterest and perfectly funny quips about how a toddler is “testing”. Then someone “confesses” their “big sin” with “oh I’m such a bad mom, I needed to take a two minute break by myself. But then I was fine and we baked cookies and sang songs and we are perfectly happy now!” Blah! None of it is real. That is NOT real life. A mom yelling in rage at her husband because she’s overtired – that’s real life! A frustrated mom throwing the kids entire plate of dinner in the trash – that’s real life. A mom crying to her best friend and admitting that she just plain old doesn’t like her kid today – you guessed it, REAL FUCKING LIFE!
Now I’m going to be my typical pessimistic, loud-mouth self: where did we fuck up so much?! What is wrong with our society!?!? Where is our real village?! We have dozens of friends and neighborhood women who will bring us a casserole or pick up our kids from school. We have twenty people we can text to run over Motrin when our kid is sick, and they’ll do it in 15 min! But most of us don’t have a single other woman we can call right this second and let it all out. And I mean ALL of it – the bad, the ugly, and the insane. We don’t have a network that will actually hold us when we are racked with sobs from the guilt. We don’t have someone, or at least we don’t think we have someone, who will still like us when we confess our failings. Why can’t we mommas be honest with ourselves and our friends? Who are we trying to impress? Well, I guess each other….but why?!
And here’s the really big thing…this isn’t limited to moms. I think women have this facade all the time, even our “bad days”, we beautify them for others. Or make it a joke. Even our “confessions”, we water them down or gloss over them. We don’t admit the really bad things we think…and then, of course, it creates this cycle where we assume they ARE really bad thoughts because we don’t hear anyone else having them. But it’s a ruse, a big screwed up game. Because when you do let your guard down, when you do find that person or two with whom you can truly be honest, you find out THEY ARE JUST AS MESSED UP AS YOU! And it’s amazing and mind-blowing and freeing!
But why can’t moms and women just be honest with each other all the time? Why do we always try to hide, or at least mitigate our shortcomings, especially our emotions? Why is it so rare to have friends to whom you can say the really ugly things you sometimes think? Let’s be honest, it’s usually about our own selves. Yes, sometimes I think how much I don’t like a particular kid that day…but I always still feel like I love them. But if I’m brutally honest, it’s much more common for me to think about how much I don’t like myself. Or how I’ve screwed up. Or how I did this or that thing wrong. And in the past I bottled that all up…until it was eating away at me. But I am lucky, so damn lucky, that I have a few treasured friends that I can say the really bad stuff to…and they get it. They don’t judge me. They listen and they say “that sucks”. They don’t necessarily try to fix it. Sometimes you just need someone to show you that they’ll love you even if you aren’t perfect or, maybe even better, they love you because you aren’t perfect…just like them.
Anyway, when I talked to my friend, it felt so very good. I loved being able to just listen and commiserate and it felt absolutely fantastic when she said “I know I can tell you this and you won’t think less of me.” That sounds selfish, but I think, I hope, it felt just as good for her. I hope I helped her feel normal and loved, not despite of her flaws, but because of them. Because our flaws, all our imperfections, are what make us beautiful and unique and perfectly imperfect women and mothers. 🙂