Dear Mamas of The Internet Universe,
A few days ago I posted a piece that I had written about how much it hurts to feel judged by other moms. That blog post was noticed by the editors at BlogHer, and is now being featured at BlogHer Family. To say that I am honored, humbled, and grateful doesn’t even scratch the surface of emotion that I’ve felt in the last 48 hours.
What has affected me the most, is what I’ve heard from all of you.
You have written to say that you’ve felt lonely too. You have written to me about your amazing children, some with autism, some with sensory issues, and all of them with temperaments of many different colors. You have stood up to say “Me too!”, and you have been brave enough to speak about how judging has affected your mothering. You have pulled back the curtains on what really happens in your family, and you have been honest about how easy it is to judge. I’ve done it too. I’m not a perfect mother, and I’ve been the one to frown on someone else’s parenting choices. But we’re taking steps together, we’re thinking before we speak, and we’re finding that part of what makes mothering so interesting, is that we all do it so differently.
You have written to tell me that you have shared my words with the moms in your playgroup, with your family members, with your FaceBook friends and your work colleagues. And mamas, I am filled with so much joy when I read your words. Not just because it’s nice to recieve a compliment (though holy cow….my heart is bursting from your kind words!), but because it makes me want to reach back in time and scream out loud to the mother that I was when Max was tiny “You are not alone!!! All of these other moms that look like they have it under control? They’re just as scared inside as you are!” You have told me about finding that mom in the grocery store, or at gymnastics class, or in the parking lot, and reaching out to her for what may have been the most important 3 minutes of her day.
When I went grocery shopping with Max yesterday, I tried to see the experience through a different lens. I spoke to Max a little louder as we navigated the produce aisle. “Max, let’s pick out some mushrooms for our salad. Max, your Daddy likes mushrooms. Max, what color are they?” “BLUE!” Max yelled, as I lugged the cart across the aisle and out of the way of the elderly woman who was now boxed in with the avocados. Apparently I was too loud, because when we rounded the corner a nice man announced “Well hello Max!”. The entire store had heard me leading Max on a desperate strategic treasure hunt. One that was meant to keep him from having a meltdown somewhere in between the balloons and the salad dressing. Then I popped him in the big part of our cart (where of course he wouldn’t sit down) and held his arm with one hand while frantically steering with the other. I whispered in his ear over and over “You’re doing GREAT. I’m so proud of you. Thank you for being so patient. We’re almost done. You are doing GREAT.” And I realized that I wasn’t just soothing Max, I was soothing myself.
Mamas, thank you for sharing that you have connected with these feelings, both here and over at BlogHer. What a wonderful gift it has been that you have taken the time to read what I’ve said, and had the courage to share your own experiences. The biggest lie of motherhood is that it’s easy. Well, maybe that it’s clean. That’s bullshit too. So let’s try to do what we can to make it just a tiny bit easier. (The clean part I can’t help you with. I realized one day last week that I had spent the entire morning out in public with the cream cheese from Max’s breakfast smeared across the back of my jeans. The. entire. morning.) We are better mothers when we are kind to each other. I have more smiles and laughter to share with my sweet boy, when I feel like I can be proud of the hard mothering work that I have done each day.
So thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Please keep sharing your stories, please keep reaching out to moms with tiny acts of kindness. Let them skip ahead of you in the Target line if they have a screaming baby. Let them walk under your umbrella when the skies open up. Help them fold their stroller when they get on your bus. Tell someone if she has cream cheese smeared on her butt…hello?! (I’m talking to you moms at preschool drop off!!) This parenting thing, with all of it’s rich rewards and heart-stretching love, can kick your butt if you feel like you’re in it alone.
You’re not alone.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, for showing me this week that I am not alone.