I feel very lucky. I have been blessed with a lot of health and well-being in my life. I have happy, healthy children, live in an affluent city, my husband works hard for us and I am surrounded by family.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t have tough days.
And tough days as a mom are totally different than tough days as a “regular” member of society. You can walk up to anyone and unload about a rough conference you just sat through and they will commiserate. Even if you are in two completely different ends of the working spectrum, there is something about corporate America that everyone can just relate to.
As a mom? There is a lot of guilt. It seems the only ones who can understand the 7th day of never-ending tantrums from a 3-year-old is a fellow mom. I will often find myself trying to brush off public meltdowns (and my eventual public scolding) by glancing at a staring stranger and joking “2 is rough!” or “guess our no-nap day is finally catching up.” I can immediately tell if the person I’m speaking to is a mom or not. If they aren’t, they sort of divert their eyes, embarrassed that they were staring, and walk the other way. Moms? They will smile, laugh, and even chime in with a quick “I’ve been there! It will get better!”
Because there is such a dichotomy between moms and non-moms, it has become even more important for me to find mommy friends. There are multiple posts written about finding mommy soulmates, and making friends when you are new in town. These friendships are invaluable and oh-so important in surviving motherhood.
Mommy friends provide so much emotional support, and act as an outlet to normalize your otherwise crazy days.
It gets awkward to try and unload about my stresses and frustrations with my kids if I’m talking to someone who doesn’t “get it” or someone who is so far past the kid stage they have forgotten. To them, if I say, “These tantrums are killing me, and timeout just doesn’t do anything. I’m going crazy!” they perceive it as a mom complaining that she is unable to control their child. If I said the same thing to a mommy friend, she would immediately pipe up with a “Girrrrl! Yes! My kiddo has been doing the SAME thing!”
Complaining vs. Confiding
There is a fine line between complaining and confiding. Most of the time, when I unload on my BMFF (that’s short for best mommy friend forever, y’know, middle-school style) I’m only telling her because I just need to say it. I need her to validate my stress. I don’t necessarily need a solution, but just to have someone affirm my roller coaster of emotions. If she has advice, AWESOME, but if not, that’s okay too!
You know what else?
Moms hold on to guilt.
(A lot of it.)
Usually it’s about losing patience on a particularly tough afternoon (when the kids were quite literally at each other’s throats), or letting the kids eat too much junk (just to keep the peace) or allowing too much television (because “they” say screen time is bad). This guilt is not necessarily a problem that needs solving. Most of the time, we just need to say it to normalize our situation. To hear our BMFF say, “Oh my gosh, I had to do the same thing last week” or “Don’t feel bad, that’s every single day in my house!”
We all secretly just want to know we are not alone.
We want to know we aren’t the only ones to lose confidence in our abilities to raise tiny humans.
Since not everyone feels they have mom friends they can be that honest with, or are afraid to admit something that is eating away at them, I would like to challenge everyone to post a comment about a parenting related incident that has left them feeling guilty or ashamed! Let’s normalize parenting shortcomings. Embrace them, laugh about them, and know you are ABSOLUTELY not the only one!
Use the hashtag #Momshamed – c’mon, let’s hear your stories!
I let my 18-month-old eat cookies for lunch. And breakfast. Because… I just couldn’t listen to one more tantrum. #momshamed
*NOTE – Part of my motivation is fueled by the fact that admitting these things frees my mom guilt. Truly. I would so much rather admit it, laugh about it, and move on than have someone stare at me in judgement, leaving me feeling like a puddle of failure.