My alarm, that blasted thing on my iPhone, rang at 6:15 am. My kids can mimic the sound that it makes – perhaps because I tend to hit snooze again and again until the snooze cards run out.
This morning, I rolled over, and thought to myself today is the day where I can only be happy.
Instant pressure that made me wish that I had some spare snooze buttons to hit.
Instant pressure that made my heart race a bit as the expectations of perfect emotion felt more than I could handle or wanted to add to my plate.
The other day I was told that I should just have a day of happy – no ups and downs and roller coaster moments – that lately I had been worrying about way too much stuff and there were too many days with issues. Okay truth. I’m a worrier. I like to chalk it up to being a deep thinker, which I am, but sometimes I’ll just let those worries run wild. I’ll worry about this issue or the money needed or how to get my seven year old to finally sit through a day of school without wiggling too much or talking out of turn. I’ll mull over life choices or get a bill in the mail and stress or sometimes I just feel unimportant and so then simple things become big things.
But the words about needing to be happy translated in my brain to you can only be happy. And with that a whole deal of expectations and this pressure of perfect. Because the truth is this – it can be really easy to superimpose expectations of emotion on life and not really look at the reality of life because it’s easier to bandage things versus deal with things.
So here’s the deal.
Life, and so often motherhood, is this pressure cooker of perfection.
When they’re babes we’re told they need to do all these milestones by this time and that we shouldn’t use those plastics or let them see a screen or that they should only play with sensory things and that they need this much sleep and so on. And then as they get older there are things like Facebook and Snapchat and middle school and hormones and identity and all sorts of new crazy pressure cooking moments. We’re told about classes and options and stuff for ourselves. The Facebook stream is littered with videos – because after all that’s the new trend – of mom sweetness and swirly glitter crafts and moments of love – and then the real life is often late notices or eleven year olds who sass back and nine year olds sick for three days and laundry that is now deciding that it is going for the tallest landmark in the county and we’re out of soap. But there’s that issue of time and schedules and people waiting for us and the expectation at times to always and only have a smile on our face or else we’re failing.
Somehow mixed into the mix of motherhood and life is this pressure of perfect.
It’s like an unwritten rule in the code of motherhood that none of us signed off on and yet we’re all trying to manage it and honestly sometimes we don’t know how to escape it.
We all know that we love real and strive after just being and yet yet yet so often there isn’t grace for us in the moments to have moments to feel or stumble or trip of have blips in the day that aren’t perfect and yet they don’t take away from the whole day.
We are meant to feel.
I know. That’s a tough one for sure. Because the truth is that feeling hurts sometimes. Oh it’s awesome and spectacular and there are moments where the world is breathtakingly perfect and our kids exclaim that you’re the best mom in the world! Those times feel unbelievable.
But motherhood and life is also full of moments where we don’t have answers. It’s of toddlers who won’t put their clothes on and you’re late and it’s -4 degrees outside and you are in an epic battle of wills. Life is about having those moments where you wonder am I really enough? and do I play with them enough? and what if the fact that I let them watch television or play electronics sets them behind?
Because you know we’re almost always told what we shouldn’t be doing. Which ironically conflicts with what we should be doing because there are equal parties on both sides of every issue saying don’t do this but do this and the other side is pushing the opposite and then there we are in the middle with decisions to make with no good answers and a life to live and the expectation that we must be happy and if we’re not that we’re not enjoying life.
Just because there is a moment where you doubt or have angst or have tears that fall doesn’t negate the wonderful that you are inside. If for a moment you doubt your worth because it is based on feeling life or worrying if you’re a good mom or when you’re ready to yell screw the to-do list let me just tell you – you’re not the only mom who had a moment like that. Some of us, ahem, rip up the to-do list at times and declare do-over days.
Motherhood is not a neutral journey. It’s not one note played over and over and over and over again. Well, wait. There are days that can feel like that, but because you and I are meant to feel it means that in the midst of the sameness there are highs and lows and amazing and challenging moments.
Mixed and mushed and blended together.
Listen. If you didn’t have times where you felt overwhelmed you wouldn’t appreciate the moments where they’re all strapped in the car and you’re on time for that class and the sun is shining and you just did it. You’ve got the music cranked and the kids are happy and you just feel on top of the world. You get that moment, that blip of happy in the tapestry of life, because the truth is that you have felt other moments.
Those moments when the tears fall or where you want to quit or you just need a nap.
Life without emotion – living for only perfect – is a life of I’m fine’s and I don’t care’s and it doesn’t matter and smiley emojiis trying to smother the realness that just wants to rise to the surface.
Don’t be afraid to just live.
Because I’m giving myself grace to live.
Not boxed in by expectations that I should only be this way and that my bad days are a challenge and there are things that are hard to talk about. Pushing stuff to the side is the pressure build up. And emotion is a tricky tricky thing. I know we don’t talk about it that much but emotion isn’t something can always be controlled with a mind trick or shut off or something that we need to feel shame or embarrassment for having.
Emotion is what makes motherhood extraordinary.
So don’t run from it.
Chase your happy day. Like me. Where I’m making a conscious choice to try to live in the good. But, truth? I’ll probably stumble. And I know who my friends are who have my back because they will love me even if I’m not perfect. They won’t judge me for feeling sad or overwhelmed or any of that.
They’ll just love.
And that’s what I’m sending to you. That encouragement.
The encouragement today to keep on keeping on. To have a great day but filled with the grace to know that there’s a good chance at 1:22 you’ve had enough. Words about pressing on and giving yourself a moment to breathe.
As soon as I take my teapot off the heat the shrill whistle stops.
It’s the same with the unwritten expectations of motherhood.
Nowhere does it say be perfect.
Just be you.
Do your best.
who is kicking the pressure of perfect to the curb
How do you always get inside my head? Right down to a toddler not wanting to get dressed in freezing weather.Emotions have not always been my friends. Admitting difficulty in controlling them? Such a thing of utter shame for me. Thank you again for giving permission to just do my best,to screw up sometimes, and keep going.
Rachel your words spoke to something deep within me because now I’m sitting here sobbing. I needed this today, thank you. <3
I loved this. This is me too. Thank you.
Yes! Thank you so much for this post. Nothing is black and white in parenting, even though we think it should be! Thank you for helping us remember to embrace imperfect parenting and the ups and downs that go with it!
Yes!! Thank you for all your encouragement! In those tough moments, it can definitely feel like all or nothing-“I’m a bad mom because I just lost it!” But there is grace!