She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through.
Then passed right by–
And never knew
Fellow Mamas. It’s time to get real.
To the outside world, I may look like I have my sh*t together. I mean I actually leave my house in the mornings fully dressed (except for the time I walked out the garage door with my breast pump on), moderately rested and occasionally fed. And those kids in my car? They are also fully dressed, moderately rested and occasionally fed. And most days, I have a genuine smile on my face as I hold each of my daughters’ hands and confidently walk them into their respective classrooms. A casual wave, high-five or fist bump to my fellow Mom (and a great big bear hug if I haven’t seen them in a couple hours) and I’m off to my next adventure.
However, deep down inside that “I-got-this” exterior, I’m harboring a dirty little blue-skinned secret.
I feel like I’m failing. On a daily basis.
I have an endless amount of support from friends and family who offer anything from childcare to a shoulder to cry on when I commit a parental act of mortal sin like forgetting about pajama day at preschool. Will I ever live that one down? Nope. I live in a suburban utopia; I wake up to a view of rolling hills and horses, my neighborhood is beautiful and safe and the schools are top notch. I can get drunk, feed some ducks, get a nose job and spend hours obsessing over the right mantra bracelet for the friend that desperately needs it—all within a couple miles of my house. And the people are cool. I mean there is always going to be “That Mom” with a high bitch percentage who are hell bent on making life miserable for everyone, but for the most part, I love our community.
So, with all of this support from my friends, family and fellow Moms, why do I constantly feel like a sucky wife, friend and mother?
Well the answer is, it’s complicated. After doing some intense soul searching, undergoing weeks of gelato therapy and making a concerted effort to observe the community at large, I had an epiphany or what I like to refer to as a “Mom-tuition.” So here it is–Our generation, our society, our community, has created over-the-top, unrealistic and unattainable expectations for mothers and women in general. And it has left me feeling like a total loser.
Now that was only the first part of my Mom-tuition. I absolutely refuse to put the blame on “society” as the sole cause of all my parental woes. Instead, I take full responsibility for succumbing to these unrealistic expectations and practically beating myself up on the daily if they are not attained. However, I must admit that these feelings of failure and inadequacy with regards to my mothering capabilities (or lack thereof) has been a relatively new development in my life. Being type A, anxious and neurotic as f*ck, I assumed that the unpredictable nature of parenting would throw me into a complete tailspin. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how calm and happy I was after Rachel’s birth (well the minute she became not an infant) and I always felt that I was doing a decent job of raising her. In addition, I have always prided myself on moving to the beat of my own drummer (and boy does my drummer do wacky things!). I wasn’t one to constantly compare myself to other moms around me.
But something changed. Somewhere along the line I stopped striving to be the best version of myself and took on the world. And I’m exhausted.
Upon digging deeper into the root cause of these newfound feelings, I discovered that actually two things have changed in the past year which have altered the course of my life, both for better or worse. Within one month, I had my beautiful, sweet, profoundly happy and edible third baby, but also got really sick and lost the life I once enjoyed as a happy, healthy a vibrant woman. In addition, while the “Mom Bar” has always been set freakishly high, the expectations for moms in 2017 is quite different from several years ago.* With the added time constraints, stress of a new baby and my mediocre health, it is now virtually impossible for me to meet this bar. Or let’s be honest—even hover in the general neighborhood. And because of it, I feel like a failure.
*This is based upon my own clinical research which consists of talking shop with moms of all ages at the park and indoor play places. Very scientific.
However, instead of curling up into the fetal position, crying for my own Mom and red wine, I’ve decided to channel my energies into exploring and researching what it means to be a perfect parent in 2017. And while some of you may think I’m freaking ridiculous for even suggesting these expectations exist, well…… you are one lucky biatch! And please tell me your secret. Seriously. But I’m guessing there are many Moms out there that feel the exact same way as I do. And I’m here to tell you, you are NOT alone sister. I’m the looniest madre you’ll ever see cruising the “MommyHood.” Now you can feel better about your life because there is another Mom out there that is more insecure and messed up than you!
So what is expected of Mom’s in the X & Y Generation?
It’s a bird…..
It’s a plane….
It’s one who will forego her personal health, happiness and any ounce of freedom for her entire family….
Okay so SuperMommy may not be caught dead in a red and blue body suit, donning a tiara and metal bracelets. But similar to Lynda Carter, SuperMom is a stunningly beautiful SuperHero with endless amounts of speed, stamina and durability. She is immortal; unbreakable. She can go days without food, water or sleep and will single-handedly take out 10 bad guys in hand-to-hand combat while simultaneously changing a dirty diaper.
And the bar is set impossibly high with regards to her daily responsibilities—she must do the following or risk eternal damnation in what I like to call “Sucky Parenting Purgatory”:
- SuperMommy must keep a consistently clean, calm and happy home. Laundry is ALWAYS sorted according to appropriate color, washed, folded and put into respective drawers and cabinets. There are never kids toys strewn across the living room because that would signify to the outside world that children actually live there. The horror!
- Similar to her household, SuperMommy’s kids must also be consistently clean, calm and happy. If they show up to school with the occasional skid marks in their Care Bear underwear OR dare to throw a tantrum in the kindergarten playground….she’s failed.
- SuperMommy’s kids always eat vegetables. Nothing “conventional,” that comes in a box or that contains ANYTHING GMO. Bonus points for gluten-free. SuperMommy would not dare bring Safeway cookies with the Red Devil Dye to the Valentine’s Day party. Oh and speaking of Valentine’s Day….SuperMommy makes her own cards. Nothing says “I don’t care about my kids” more than the generic paper valentines with the candy hearts attached (that also contain Red 40, so you are pretty much losing at life on this one).
- Whether or not SuperMommy works in or outside of the home, she must volunteer at school. Everyday. And if she does not work outside the home? What exactly does she do all day? I mean Oprah went off the air years ago.
- SuperMommy spends an ungodly amount of “quality” time with her kids. Even if it means foregoing food, water or a shower. Or even one freaking moment of quiet time to herself. This is not about her remember? If she lets her kids even think about touching a handheld device, she should just do herself and them a huge favor and give her up her parental rights on the spot. Her kids would be much better off in a loving, supportive and “involved” household.
- SuperMommy is the consummate supportive, loving and sexy spouse or partner. She always gives her partner 100% (and endless amounts of sexy time), even when her house is on fire, she has been puking from the stomach flu her kids gave to her or when she has to take Rachel to the ER via ambulance because she took a nose dive off the chair at swim class. Because this is a completely hypothetical list.
- SuperMommy signs her kids up for at least 150 after-school activities and summer camps. Because those that succeed in life start achieving at age 2. And can play the piano and ride a horse. At the same time.
- SuperMommy is an incredible hostess. Her kids have 17 playdates a week and each time they are engaged in various enrichment activities that target a specific learning modality. Whether it be a homemade craft or an extremely messy science experiment, SuperMommy is game because she doesn’t worry about the hours and hours of clean-up but solely focuses on the “experience.” She also throws a neighborhood BBQ four times a month, each with a different theme and makes every side dish by hand. She politely assures her neighbors that they do not need to bring anything. And actually means it.
And the cardinal rule for SuperMoming…..
- While she is adhering to aforementioned rules, SuperMommy maintains the perfect female figure, which includes but is not limited to ripped arms, great boobs (high and tight) and the perfect ass.
Okay while this is clearly a humorous, a bit over the top account of what is expected of us as Moms, there is actually some kernels of truth in it. So much so, that I actually get hives just writing about it.
So anyway, now that I have revealed my “blue skin” to the world and my deepest darkest fears about falling miserably short of SuperMommy status, it’s time for a solution. Well I may as well leave the rest of this blog post blank because I don’t have one exactly. But, here are the baby steps I have taken to help me cope.
- Identify your priorities—for the month, the week and for each day. I actually downloaded an app called “To Do List” (there are tons on the market) which allows me to set goals for the day and then place the things that I did not complete into a “Later” category. I learned to keep my list short—that way I feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Also, a little stick figure does the running man when I complete a task which just makes life worth living. Another tip– I try to put my “poo tasks” (errands, jobs and activities that are giving me the most stress) at the top of the list so I can complete them first and breathe a sigh of relief. Once the poo tasks are completed, it is all uphill from there! Oh and no regrets. Whatever doesn’t get completed on my daily list gets done later. There is no looking back and doing the “shoulda, woulda coulda” dance.
- Try to incorporate at least one “soul food” activity into your daily routine. Now my priorities and “To Do” list shift daily, but it is important for me to reserve some time each day to stop and smell the roses, as opposed to just smelling dirty diapers. One day it will be actually sitting down while drinking my tea and watching intently as my son pulls every single freaking granola bar out of the pantry for the 50th time. Another day it will be taking a few hours out of the afternoon to write about the magical properties of Apple Cider Vinegar and what turmeric has done for my love life. Finally, there are the days that it’s just “werk, werk, werk, werk, werk, werk” and my soul food activity is cleaning out the dryer. Which, oddly enough, gives me as much satisfaction as actually sitting down and drinking tea.
- Select a daily mantra and live by it. Mine is “I can only do so much.” In addition to whispering obscenities to myself as my daughter “Middle Monica” refuses to get out of the car for the 50th freaking time this week, I will follow it up with my mantra. This particular one resonates with me because, it’s true. And it implies that even in the face of hardship, I am doing the best I can.
- Set a time limit on the end of the day kid-related activities. At the end of the day when all the little chickpeas have gone off to bed, I give myself 45 minutes to do kid-related activities like dishes, cleaning, laundry, packing lunches, etc. The rest of the time is for horrible reality television, a bath (gasp! Yes I take baths people), writing, or just about any activity that takes stress away from my life, rather than add to it.
- Establish a bed time routine and stick to it! We spend endless hours reading books and consulting with peers and even professionals on good sleep hygiene for our children. However, when it comes to our own sleep well, “less is more” because it means you are being productive. Completely false. Yes, you are productive for a couple nights, but then sleep deprivation kicks and you are about as useful to yourself and your kids as Humpty Dumpty. Studies confirm this! So, set a bedtime routine for yourself. I do my chores from about 7-7:45, take bath till 8 and get ready for bed, then I go down and join “The Dude” for an half hour of t.v. When he drifts off about 8:15 on the couch and bumping his arm is not doing the trick, I stay up for one more guilty pleasure and then I hit the sack. It’s simple. No meditation or crazy yoga headstands involved (although do it if it works for you), but just small, pleasurable things.
Disclaimer: This is not a quick fix. Shifting my mind-set and habits will not happen overnight, but rather, this whole journey is a process; one that will be fraught with difficulty and have its peaks and valleys. Similar to parenthood. But at the end of the day, I’m working on it. And doing my darndest to make sure that my kids don’t spend their entire adult life in therapy. Because after all, I’m only human. And while I have moments of parental brilliance, I am not a SuperMommy. I’m just a Mom making a “Super” effort to do the best she can.
Are you a Pinterest Mommy who makes your kids sandwiches in the shape of Disney characters?
Yeah, me neither.
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You guys. Let’s get honest with one another! Are you Momming hard or feeling like you are hardly Momming? I’d love to know. Extra points for actual stories.