When I had my first child my eyes were opened to this secret society of motherhood. While taking care of a baby came pretty instinctively to me, navigating the mom scene did not. I quickly observed that there was this mom code of decorum and I apparently never got the memo.
This whole new level of shame and guilt blindsided me. No matter where I went, the playground, the grocery store, in the restaurants, at church; everyone, all the time seemed to be judging me or had an opinion on how I should do things. To make matters worse social media gave me the best sampling of all the most perfect moms. Their blogs and instastories filled my facebook page and reinforced that I am not enough. They have it all together with their beautiful homes and perfect children, eating 100% organic, gluten free, paleo homemade gourmet meals every night. I won’t even get into how their bodies bounced back after kids. The pressure to appear to be that mom wore on me. We were super tight with money and could not afford the adorable baby clothes, the cute accessories or the Pinterest perfect nursery decor. I was depressed and having a hard time being present in the moment with my son because I was always worried about trying to appear like I had it all together.
I finally decided enough is enough! I’m done trying to please everyone around me. I am going to be me and mother according to my convictions, not what someone else tells me or what I think they want me to do. I’m going to be content with what I have and what my capacity and means are and stop comparing myself to other moms.
Now, I’d like to say, that I never struggled with mom insecurity or guilt again; but this is real life and there is no magic pill for anything. Somethings were easier than others to reject or shake off. For example, my son was born in Mexico because of the cultural differences I could very clearly see that many of the local traditions and superstitions were non-consequential to the health and well being of my son. I knew my son was just gassy and did not have El Mal Ojo, the bad eye. I did not give it a second thought about saying, “no thanks” when someone would suggest doing a ceremony with an egg to help him. But other things, like comparison and envy are a daily struggle overcome. I see all the pretty moms with their pretty kids and it is hard not to compare myself or wish that I could be on their level. When my kid is the only one at the playground that does not come when I call so I have to drag him off kicking and screaming…yeah it sucks. I feel embarrassed. I care. I have my moments where I feel like an utter failure.
I have learned that everyone’s process is different, every child is different, everyone’s capacity is different and their financial means are different and it is OKAY. Yes, I am striving to be and do better in every area of my life, but having and holding onto these negative emotions means I can not live and enjoy my life to its fullest, where I am.
Here is an over simplification of my process. Please do not think for one second that I have mastered any one of these points. They are all very much a process and a practice that I have to work at every single day. But basically, I give myself lots of grace because I was given grace. I do not beat myself up because I’m human and make mistakes and kids are resilient. I do not compare myself with others because a) what you see on the outside/facebook is not the whole story b) it will make you go crazy c) it robs you of being thankful and content with where you are now and where your kids are now. I don’t care what other people think because frankly they do not know my life.
The secret mom society does not exist. We think everyone else has everything figured out; they don’t. We are all doing this for our first time. Lets be slow to judge one another, quick to help and quick to learn from one another.