I started writing this blog a year and a half ago for a few reasons: to vent off some of the crazy in my life, to organize and understand my thoughts on something that’s really bothering me at the moment, and to hopefully let other crazed parents know they are not alone in their insanity and that they probably have their act together far better than I do. There’s something really cathartic for me when I hit that “publish” button. It’s a combination of, “Whew! I got that out! That feels better”…a bit of, “Oh, jeez! I hope people like it,” and “Crap. DCFS is gonna come knocking any minute, aren’t they?”
My blog is my authentic self. I don’t make this stuff up, even though some days I wish I did. It is not like a carefully crafted and curated Facebook page where I show my life at its best or my children at their cutest. Don’t get me wrong — I like doing that too, and I love seeing beautiful pictures of my friends and their families, new babies and fun vacations. It brings me joy when my friends and family share a great success in their life.
But we all need to be cautious about trying to live our lives so that it’s Facebook or Instagram-worthy. Isn’t it exhausting always covering up our flaws and worrying about what others think?
One of the best pieces of advice my mom taught me is to not worry about what others are thinking of you, because most likely they aren’t. They’re too busy worrying about what others are thinking of them or their current problems. Think about it. It really takes the pressure off.
One time when one of the inmates was still a tiny baby, I had a day where I actually showered and put on clean clothes — I felt great! I felt invincible and decided to venture out and go to Costco to stock up on all the things we had burned through during my last uncomfortable weeks of pregnancy and newborn blur. By the time I had everyone packed up in the car and arrived at the store, I looked down only to see a huge wet spot on my overflowing chest where one of my boobs had leaked and a big smear of spit-up down the middle of my shirt. When did that happen?! It was a beautiful spring day and I hadn’t brought a coat along that I could hide under. Maybe I could fashion a swaddling blanket into a big scarf to cover up the hot mess? That looked even more ridiculous. Wipes could only do so much when I scrubbed at the crime scene all over my boobs. Ugh! I felt like crying. I couldn’t go in looking like this! What would people think when they saw me?
Then my mom’s voice came into my head, “They’re not going to think anything. They’re going to be too busy thinking about what they need to get and strong-arming their cart through the aisles. If they do look at you, they’re going to be too busy admiring that beautiful new baby and not looking at your chest.” You know what? She was totally right — she’s a smart one, that Mom. By the time I made it out of the store with my overflowing cart, I was exhausted but proud of myself. I did it and no one had given me a disapproving or pitying look. And frankly, if they did, who the hell cared?! This was Costco fer crissake, not Rodeo Drive!
So why did I share a weird story like that with you? Well, perhaps this post doesn’t apply to you. But if it helps someone who is struggling and feeling alone in their imperfect life, then mission accomplished. Parenting and just being a human in general is hard enough. Why do we waste time trying to be perfect? Maybe if we share our struggles a bit more, it can help bring others out of their darkness.
The other day I was feeling a bit down, so I texted a friend who I hadn’t talked with in awhile. I asked how things were going, and she told me that life was tough right now. We decided to get together in person — this was serious. I brought her a cup of Starbucks (because that’s what good friends do), and we sat down and talked about our imperfect lives, the painful things our kids were going through, not feeling like we were good mothers and wives, and just how frustrating and helpless it all felt. We were able to find the humor in it, laugh together and assure each other that we were not alone and were doing the best we could in this craziness called life. I left feeling energized and a bit more at peace. It was all going to be okay. I hope she felt the same.
So I’m going to throw a challenge out there for us: let’s all stop trying to be perfect and just be ourselves. Better yet, reach out to someone you haven’t heard from in awhile. Sometimes when life gets too heavy, it feels really good when we can help share the burden. I’m going to keep reminding myself that if life goes sideways, at least it’s great material for my next blog post. May life bring you more Instagram-worthy than blog post moments.
PS: If you enjoyed this, please like and share! Thanks!