Written by Becky Tountas
When I first became a mom, friends would visit me and say, “you must be so happy.”
I was. I had a beautiful healthy daughter, but I was many other things as well, like exhausted to the bone, both emotionally and physically. I was completely overwhelmed with love for this tiny creature but was also overwhelmed by how much she needed me. She needed me to feed her, change her, dress her and comfort her. All of the time. Every day. Every night. Sometimes it felt like too much, like I was being suffocated. I felt so depleted. For eight weeks she shrieked every night from 7:00 p.m. to midnight. I had no clue how to help her.
What I wanted to say to my visitors was this: I am incredibly happy but I am also overwhelmed. I have no idea what I am doing. I am terrified. I wish someone had told me how hard this motherhood thing is and how terribly clueless I would feel.
My life is messy. Beautiful but messy. I would be completely and utterly lost without my iPhone because my calendar and reminders are how I get through the days. My desk is covered in Post-it notes. I always need a haircut and an eyebrow wax. My daughter’s newborn clothes are mixed in with her 12 month clothes and I have no idea how I will ever organize them. I have 14 half-written blog posts saved in my Gmail drafts. I dream about having a clean house and an organized life.
Recently I was on the phone trying to arrange a meeting. I kept having to consult my iPhone calendar to find a time and I said to my friend, “My god, I must seem so terribly disorganized to you. I know my life is a bit of a mess.”
“Oh honey,” she said. “Mine is no better.”
I breathed a sigh of relief and laughed. “I would kill for a personal assistant.”
“‘Me too,” she laughed.
When you drop the facade of everything being perfect, it allows others to do the same. Because no one’s life is perfect. Being truly authentic and vulnerable makes for more meaningful conversation and connection.
Sometimes the moms I meet seem so…organized. They have clean homes and their children are well-behaved and dressed well, with beautiful, perfect pigtails. My house is a disaster zone until bedtime. I typically wear dirty workout clothes all day. My daughter shrieks when I try to put any kind of tie in her wild hair. I made the mistake of cursing in front of her, and now she says “s**t” every time she drops something. I have no idea how to get her to stop saying it.
When I admit my complete lack of parenting knowledge to these moms, I can see their walls dropping. When they admit to me that they can’t get their toddlers to sit in a high chair in a restaurant, I say, “me too!” Or when they tell me how they feed their kids more processed food than they want, I nod in acknowledgement, because my daughter would rather eat a cookie than fruit. When they say that they are wearing dirty jeans and didn’t have time to brush their hair, I simply say, “me too.”
I want to hug these women.
I think to myself, “So you aren’t perfect either — I am not the only one who is sometimes lost, overwhelmed and stressed? Good.”
With motherhood, I am just making it up as I go along. I fully admit that I don’t really have any idea what I am doing. Most of the time, I just wing it and do the best that I can by following my gut. Maybe there is another path, but I haven’t found it yet.
I am incredibly grateful to all of the moms who admit that they have no idea what they are doing, either. They are doing the honest work of letting all of us know we aren’t alone.
About the Author: Becky Tountas is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, a Stroller Strides Fitness Instructor and a stay at home mom to her daughter. She dreams of having more time to write, but usually spends her days chasing around her toddler instead. Check out Becky’s blog and catch up with her on Facebook and twitter.