Why You Owe it to the Women in Your Life to Share the Messy, Awkward Moments of Motherhood
Despite what you see on social media, motherhood is far from easy.
We live in a bizarre world. While breastfeeding on my couch, I can peek into the lives of pretty much anyone. I know more about acquaintances I haven’t seen in years than I ever knew about them when we went to highschool together. I follow moms on Instagram with tens of thousands of followers who I’ve never met but I’ve seen the insides of their houses.
Through the window of my phone, I see so much, but also so little. I see moms with toned bodies, perfect makeup, and cooperative children. Their houses are as immaculate as their diets. Their husbands smile bright white smiles and take them on magical vacations where everyone is happy all the time. They buy nice houses and nice cars. They throw pretty parties and wear pretty clothes. No wonder we watch them from our tiny screens. It’s fun to live their lives while we wear our dirty yoga pants and try to ignore our messy living rooms.
But, really, what’s all this voyeurism doing to our psyches? How often do we feel less than those perfect pictures because we’re messy, tired, and struggling in some unspoken way? What about all that pressure from those seemingly innocent pins on Pinterest to put on an elaborate show in everything we do? After all, we have pictures we need to post, too. All those likes and hearts and comments waiting to make us feel a little more connected to the outside world.
It’s not to say we’re not happy or there’s not reason to celebrate all the beauty in all those lovely pictures, but in a world where more of our social interaction comes from screens than faces, all that perfection can feel isolating. I see it in my sisters and I catch in myself. Jealousy over incomplete pictures. Envy over what we see, when really there’s so much we don’t.
This is why I’ve started messaging friends and family in the funny, awkward moments of motherhood. You know, when you’ve just blow-dried your hair while sitting on the toilet because you have no idea how much time you’ve got before the baby starts crying? Or when everyone’s screaming and the dog pooped somewhere in the house and you just can’t find it? Because motherhood isn’t just matching outfits and enormous smiles at sunset, it’s also hard, messy work and we need to be honest about this so we don’t lose our shit when suddenly our lives don’t look like those pictures.
My sister and I exchanged photos of our messy living rooms the other day and it just felt so damn good. Suddenly I wasn’t alone in the fact that motherhood is hard and we can’t always do it all. Other women have messy houses, too. Forget social media. It’s a partial picture. Those glossy moms don’t do it all. They may have pretty moments, but they also have challenging ones, I guarantee it. And if they’ve managed to find a way to isolate themselves from all those moments of chaos, then they’re missing out on real, authentic experiences with their families. Kids are hard work. Other than outsourcing help, there’s no way around it.
So, I’m inviting you to share your mess. In fact, I’m not just inviting you, I’m giving you permission to not be perfect. Instead of crying when it all gets crazy, laugh and share it with another mom or friend who will appreciate your humor and find solace in knowing she’s not alone in her own wild, glorious mess of a life. There’s so much more beauty to the truth of it all than in only showing our carefully staged, glossy exteriors to one another, (even though those can be fun, too). It’s the balance that matters. Otherwise we feel too much pressure to meet an imaginary ideal.
And, oh yeah, if you’re attempting to make everything in your life look like it belongs on Pinterest, challenge yourself to STOP. Throw a birthday party without crafting ANYTHING (I did!) and see how good it feels when the kids are still happy. It’s okay. Really. Even if you love all the adorable details, sometimes you have to ask yourself if you’re trying so hard for yourself or for what others see. Give yourself permission to be real and not only will you feel less stressed, others will also thank you by extension.