One of my good friends and I were driving home from a party a few weeks ago and I mentioned that I was thinking of starting this blog. She said to me, "Oh, you'll be so good at that. You're such a good mom. Not like me. I'm failing at all of it." I almost drove off of the road. Hold on. Here was my beautiful, smart, talented, wildly successful (and possibly drunk) friend telling me that I was besting her in the Mommy Wars.
For the record, I'm not into the Mommy Wars thing. As far as I'm concerned, we're all in this crazy sisterhood togther. And here's the bigger truth: I'm failing at all of it too. Every single day. I let my kids watch too much TV. I'm not "in the moment" with them at all times. I have been known to give them cereal for dinner two nights in a row. My house looks like a bomb went off in it. I lose my temper. I feel like a failure. Sigh.
I think the biggest common denominator of motherhood is guilt. As a stay-at-home-mom, I have guilt about not working. My working mom friends say that they have guilt about not staying home. It seems we all have guilt at not living up to some kind of image that what a perfect mother looks like.
I bet you know what I'm talking about. We're surrounded by articles about having it all. How many people do I know who put their most perfect selves out there on social media? (I mean, seriously, how do y'all get your kids to look at the same place at the same time and smile? I have not been able to master that yet. Our family photo shoots most closely resemble the backstage area at a circus or, on good days, a petting zoo.)
The bottom line is that I have a totally unachievable idea of what I'm supposed to be. And I'm always failing to attain it. For some things, I am unwavering. Kindness, for instance, isn't optional. Being a good, decent human being isn't open for debate around here. But everyone looking like they just stepped out of a magazine all the time is. As much as I would love to keep up with the Joneses, looking perfectly put-together with four immaculate, well-behaved children in a designer showcase house isn't a reality for me. It only leads to my losing patience with little people who have no idea who the Joneses are and why anyone would want to keep up with them. (And they're right, of course.)
So, what's going on? Why are we all feeling this way? Is this what "leaning in" feels like? Because, honestly, I'd rather just try to stand up straight (or lean back with a cocktail) because I'm exhausted.
Let's start with Pinterest. Nothing — and I mean nothing — will make you feel like more of a failure than Pinterest. Pinterest, the ultimate rabbit hole. I have lost hours of my life to trying to figure out how to make strawberries into mini Christmas trees and bunnies out of dinner rolls. Now, don't get me wrong, the concept of an online pinboard is fantastic and I've started using my account for that. But scrolling through the pages upon pages of picture-perfect ideas for a Frozen-themed birthday party has damned near given me a panic attack.
And that doesn't begin to take into account the perfect hand-sewn Valentine's Day school cards or the St. Patrick's Day party prep ideas. When I see all of that, do you know what I think? I think, "Shamrock pretzel pops?! Those are cute! I'll bring those! Hmm. On second thought, those look involved. I don't think I have time to figure that out right now. I really need to give the baby a bath. What if I add some green food coloring to something? That could be cute. Do I have green food coloring? Nope. I could run to the grocery store to get it. But that's SO not happening right now. Oh, who am I kidding? I'll just pick up some green cookies on the way and call it a day." And then I feel like the terrible mom who shows up with store-bought cookies instead of the shamrock pretzel pops because she needed to bathe a child and the thought of loading up four kids to go to the store just to buy green food coloring was too much for her. Thanks for the guilt, Pinterest. Screw you.
But I digress.
So, yes, by some standards I am failing every day. But, here's the thing: I am winning every day too. And you are too. Even when you don't think you are. In my life, I give my little wildcats hugs and morning snuggles before school. I read them stories and sing lullabies to them at night. I may think that getting my son to do his homework is going to drive me to drink, but, at the end of the epic battle, he's ready for school the next day. I may not have showered for three days, but my kids know they're loved and that's a win. I bet you can think of moments that went okay too. And, if that's a struggle (and some days it is), kick back with a glass of wine and ask yourself, "Did we all make it through today?" If the answer is yes, guess what? You won too.
In the meanwhile, let's all give each other permission to fail. When you see me, frazzled and covered in spit-up at the grocery store with a toddler who's screaming because I have confiscated the Sharpie that she mistook for lipstick, feel free to give me a high-five. Because we're all in this together, failing every day. And being in it together is absolutely a win.