Pretty pictures and the sausage factory
I love stumbling across people that speak my language. The older I get, the more I realize just how weird I am (not like, I’m a Furry or anything. Not that there’s anything wrong if you are. I guess.), but just how sometimes, I am talking to people or hanging out on Facebook, and I think “I do not share your views on anything.” Especially as a mom. Then I stumbled across this awesome post last night on Facebook, and literally thought “I want her to be my BFF.” Go read it and come back.
There are so many people that seem to fit into a niche: Hippy/Crunchy Moms, Type A Moms, Crafty Moms, Free Spirit Moms. They happily breastfeed for years and never seem to feel claustrophobic. Or they get everything done quickly and with no mess and are never late to anything. Or every birthday party is a Pinterest-worthy extravaganza and they didn’t even have to be institutionalized afterward. Or they just roll with the punches, never getting worked up, instead just shrugging their shoulders and grinning.
I am none of this.
I’ve tried to be a variation of all of these and any other kind you can think of, but it’s always a letdown. And in the past, when I was still really new at this motherhood game (I’m hardly more than a novice now, I know), I would get SO frustrated. WHY can’t I do these things? WHY can’t I make shit/go with the flow/relax/step it up, etc? They make it look SO EASY.
Because I seriously don’t think it’s real.
I’m not calling the Niche Moms fakes. But I am saying that there is a trend right now where moms are basically branding themselves in a certain way, on purpose or not, and we are buying what they are selling. We see the Instagrammed photos of the sun-kissed day at the park. We see your Pinterest board for the CUTEST THIRD BIRTHDAY PARTY EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. We read your status updates about your holiday-themed meals. And we wonder HOW DOES SHE DO THAT? And we blame ourselves for not doing the same, not doing enough, not BEING enough.
But here’s the thing. It’s not the whole story, is it? We don’t see how the sausage gets made, literally or figuratively. And that’s ok. You don’t HAVE to show us that while you were cutting out shamrocks for your St. Patrick’s Day themed playdate, your kid almost set the house on fire. Or that while you got everyone dressed perfectly and bags packed neatly and lunches made quickly and in the car ready for school early that you screamed at your kids 400 times and now you hate yourself a little.
I choose to tell the whole story, here on my blog and in social media and in basically any conversation you’ll ever have with me. I’m not much of a sugar-coater. I try to be the voice of reality in a world of Shiny Happy Motherhood. I do think there is a place for both. I think it’s great to see so many moms living up to the image they have of motherhood. I get inspired by their energy. But we need those reminders that it isn’t always pretty, or when we are having those shit-filled days (LITERALLY), we feel alone and like a failure.
Luckily, I’m far from alone, as the post by Sarah proved. And many other bloggers out there, like Amalah, and The Bearded Iris and many others that are WAY bigger and say things better than I do. But these points of view provide balance, and hopefully a little camaraderie among moms who are in the trenches, just trying to survive every day.