The world is disproportionately hard on mothers. You see a woman at the grocery store wrestling with a fussy baby and wonder why she isn’t taking better care of him. You see a woman dragging a screaming toddler through the mall and you muse that she should have stayed home. The same does not apply to fathers— a dad wrangling kids in public is a God, he is the pinnacle of manhood. What a good dad, leaving the house with his own spawn. He is doing The Most(™).
But not mothers. We live in a world where every single decision we make is criticised. This is the truth of motherhood. In addition to all of the magical, amazing, beautiful things about being a mother, you live with the knowledge that someone will meet you on your hardest day and latch onto it. That someone will see you, exhausted, with a heavy heart, and pass judgment. That you will be cemented in their mind as a horrible mom because your thoughts were on unpaid bills and unwashed dishes and you didn’t notice your kid going absolutely feral on a tub of Cool Whip at Super One. Do these peoples’ opinions matter in the long run? No. Do unkind words still sting? Absolutely.
I’m lucky that most days are good. Most days are peachy. Some days are not. Some days the overwhelming pressure to be a perfect mother is crippling. Some days I feel like my heart is a black hole and it’s going to swallow me up. Some days I want to pack my bags, drive to Wyoming, and get a job as a ranch hand. Nevermind the fact that my arms are made of jelly and my braiding skills are sub-par. I’m going to change my name and start fresh as a farm girl.
On these days, I’m thankful to have an amazing, vast network of support. I’m thankful to have women in my life who speak to my heart, who fill my cup even when they can’t fill their own. To these women I say the biggest “thank you” and “I’m sorry for the days when I struggle to do the same.” Not all women are this lucky, and my heart aches to imagine going through this roller coaster of hormones and emotions and doubts without a community.
I want to be the mom that lifts others up. I want to support my friends when they’re hurting, I want to give all my love to women who are barely keeping their heads above water, the mom having a rough day because she has to decide between tampons and food for her kids, the mom who is having a meltdown at the bank or crying at the Taco Bell drive-thru. I see you, mamas. My heart is heavy, too. I have bad days, too.
I call on my sisters in motherhood to see the woman under the baggy sweatshirt and the messy hair. I call on you to see the hurt, the frustration, the crippling anxiety of the mothers all around you. Speak words of healing and of kindness. Please never forget that we are all in the trenches of motherhood. We’re in this together.
It’s so easy to judge. It’s so easy to be unkind, to be harsh in the way we treat other moms. I will tell you this: other moms are not your enemy. We aren’t competing. You don’t have to be the most together mom, the most beautiful or calm or strict or lenient or affectionate or crunchy or by-the-book. You don’t have to compare and criticize. I understand the feeling. In moments of insecurity I look at other moms and I think ugly, spiteful things. I look at other moms and am tempted to tear them down in the hopes of building myself up, but the truth is that it doesn’t work like that. It will never work like that.