“Goodnight! And tell your Mommy to clean out her car!”
“…Mom I am literally standing right next to you.”
“Well I’m just saying, that if you just take 10 minutes every night after the kids go to bed…”
If I were to add up all of the “just take 10 minutes” that my mother has suggested, I would never sleep again. If it’s not the state of my car, it’s the baskets of laundry I have yet to fold, the toys scattered about my backyard, or the exercise I’m putting off. At times she’s like a living, breathing Instagram feed, reminding me that I’m not doing enough.
My mother was (and still is) the mom who worked full time, yet always had a gourmet meal prepared and on the table by 6 o’clock. Every night. She did triathlons and ran half (and one whole) marathons. Our house was always spotless, and I don’t remember ever seeing a dirty dish left in the sink overnight. Ever. She did all this and more, with an effortlessness that makes me wonder if we are actually related at all.
Having such a powerful female figure in my life is something I wouldn’t trade for the world. So when I became a parent I figured, if she did it, so can I! What I discovered was that preparing a gourmet meal every night required planning, and trips to the grocery store with a newborn and a toddler. I was lucky if I could walk down the street, let alone train for a race. And the dishes? Yeah right. On the days when I found myself still wearing my spit-up covered bathrobe at 5pm, I would lie and tell my mother about the wonderful and productive things I accomplished.
It was supposed to be easy! It was easy for her. When is it going to be easy for me? What are you supposed to do when your reality (of motherhood, career, romance, etc.) looks extremely different than the one that was modeled for you?
Like the beautifully curated social media feeds we scroll through every day, I never saw the struggle behind my mother’s success. While I’m almost positive there were nights she cried on the bathroom floor, I never knew. OF COURSE she was stressed, and struggling. Trust me! I wasn’t the easiest kid to parent. I only wish she had allowed me behind the curtain. It wouldn’t have prepared me for the stresses and struggles of motherhood. But it would have let me know that it is normal to have them. It wouldn’t have influenced how many times a day I question myself as a mother. But it would have let me know that other people are asking the same questions.
Letting our friends, partners, and children see our hard moments is monumentally important.
It is also terrifying.
I’ve dipped my toes in with silly Instagram stories, and sharing about things like the time my children nearly murdered a chicken. While it’s fun and frivolous, it has helped minimize the weight of expectations set for me by society, my mother, and myself.
There are just some things I am never going to be able to do as well as my mother did them. Honestly, if I end up with a fraction of the strength, passion, and drive she possesses, I’d be happy. In the meantime, my goal is to fake it ‘till I make it. I’m attempting to focus on the things I can do well. So far, that list includes cuddles, making tacos, and dance parties…and honestly? There are worse ways to spend 10 minutes.