Have you ever experienced something so profound in your life that it completely changed you?
I mean, not only in the way you think and feel in the moment, but change you right down to the core?
Well, I think I did.
But for me, it happened so subtly, almost indiscernibly, that I didn’t even know it happened until years later.
Long before I was pregnant, even before I had the faintest idea of starting a family, I had a conversation with my closest cousin who had done just that. Regular in every other way, and likely borne from a thought she needed to process herself, I’m not even sure she knows just how much her words affected me then, or now.
And so years later, with children of my own, I wanted to take the time to say thank you to her. Because unbeknownst to me at the time, that was a conversation – or really, an understanding – I very much needed.
So what was it that she said to me? Simple.
“Something’s. Gotta. Give.”
Three words. That’s all it took for her to shift something deep down inside of me.
But let’s stop for a moment. Because it wasn’t so dramatic when she said it. In fact, it wasn’t even that emphasized.
In our actual conversation, my cousin was telling me how as a new-ish mom, there were hundreds of thoughts, ideas, and feelings going through her head at any given moment. And with each of those, an ever-increasing desire to be “the best” mom ever.
Desire…pressure….same thing, right?
So naturally, she was saying, when she saw other moms who looked like they were mom-ing better than her, she couldn’t help but compare herself to them – or worse, try to be like them.
Keeping up with Mama Jones, am I right?
And all of that was overwhelming. Like really overwhelming. Because on top of managing a new baby, a new body, a new role, a new family dynamic, a new set of to-do’s and to-learn’s, and no sleep – let’s not forget no sleep – she added copying and comparing to her list.
Until she got to hang out with one of those pedestal moms, for a playdate, at her house.
While everything about this mom was amazing – from the way she and her children were dressed to how well they were all behaved – my cousin quickly realized that what she saw was only what that other mom wanted her to see!
It was her outward self, her public self.
Or, should I say, the Instagram version of herself!
And while she wasn’t a disaster behind closed doors, her house was.
Imagine glass shattering. Because that’s how mind-blowing it was.
But not because my cousin saw her weakness – or the chink in her armour, so to say – but because in that moment, that mom became real. A real person like you or me. A real person like my cousin.
Now was that mom still amazing? YES!
Was her house messy (okay, like really messy)? YES!
Did that change how well she was mom-ing? HECK NO!
And there it was. The understanding that literally changed my life. Especially in this new role that I like to call mamahood.
No matter the situation, the role, the challenge, I can’t be like other moms, because I am not those other moms.
Our lives are different. Our strengths are different. Our priorities are different.
And because our priorities are different, our “gives” are different.
Yes, I too have gives as I quickly learned. But not just one, many. Sometimes it’s not dressing up when I leave the house. Sometimes it’s not styling my hair for a week…or two. Sometimes it’s leaving the kids in pyjamas for the day. Sometimes it’s making a really big mess in the house, and leaving it like that. Sometimes it’s not brushing my teeth until noon.
Wait, have we hung out before noon?
The give always changes, because my priorities change. It often goes along with how I am feeling about things. That is, am I on top of my game as a person, a mom, a friend, a housekeeper?!
The short answer is usually no. But not in the way that I am not functioning in all of those areas (and more). I am. But I just know that there is always room to grow – and I really really really like being a person that is on top of her game.
So why not just stop trying to be the “perfect” mom because I know everyone out there has a give – or gives? Well, because this conversation, this understanding, this post is not about giving in to our failures, or (and maybe more importantly) about finding faults in ourselves, or others. It’s about cutting ourselves some slack because even on the best days, motherhood is hard!
So instead of worrying about whether I am mom-ing well enough, I am going to live in each moment, whether good or bad.
Because every moment is just that. A moment. And when things start to feel overwhelming – and they will – I just remember that something’s gotta give.