I think we can all agree there is a lot of pressure on moms. We’re somehow supposed to do it all, do it well AND be super happy while doing it. We’re supposed to have these “Instagram worthy” homes, kids, food and clothes. Let’s talk a little about how we’re failing as moms (it’s not how you think).
Mommin’ Aint Easy
It was our typically chaotic Monday. Full day of work, get child one off the bus, pick child two up from daycare, scramble to make dinner and get out the door to dance on time. As we’re rushing in at the last minute (as usual) I take note of all of the other moms already there, sitting in the hallway of our school, waiting for dance to start. Most of them are deep into the “scroll hole” catching up on emails, social media or getting back to text messages. I manage to get my daughter’s dance shoes on quickly and help her to her spot with her class before taking my own in the hallway.
I glance around again before pulling out my own iPhone. During dance they have a no distraction policy, which means parents can’t watch the children dance until the last 5 minutes of class. You can imagine how much would get accomplished if they didn’t do this! This is my daughter’s first year of dance and I don’t know many of the other moms. A couple I know as a friend of a friend, but none of them well. Most of them are new faces. I notice a mom who skated in right behind me with her daughter who looked to be the same age as mine.
Why Is Making “Mom Friends” So Awkward?
She sat down a few spots over from me. Her daughter burst into tears when she brought her into the room with the other dancers. The little girl didn’t want her mom to leave her, but within 2 minutes flat, she stopped sobbing and joined in with the other little girls. Pretty minor to most of us sitting there, but the mom was clearly still frazzled. She fidgeted a bit, as if trying to work up the courage to say something. Then she visibly braced herself and forced the words to leave her lips. “Hey moms!” she addressed the group nervously. “Have any of you ever had a child that has struggled with separation anxiety?”
My heart swelled with pride for her. It was obviously hard for her to address this group of dance moms that she didn’t know yet. I listened intently for a moment, waiting to hear what pearls of wisdom they had to offer a fellow mama in need. I was excited at the opportunity to get to know these women. Some of our daughters would likely become friends and it would be nice to at least have a general vibe of the parents.
How We’re Failing As Moms (It’s Not How You Think)
What happened next made me question my faith in humanity. I watched as approximately 14 moms (mostly in their 30’s, no less) shrugged their shoulders at her. Then, I watched as they looked at her like she was bothering them and that she was dumb for asking such a thing. I listened with my mouth hanging open as the few that even bothered to reply gave her (snottily, may I add) a simple “Nope.”
Are you effing kidding me? For real?!? THIS my friends, this is where we are failing as moms. This is the type of thing that makes my blood boil.
The thought of another kid bullying our kid is horrifying. It makes our inner mama bears come out in a fierce way. We hope that the kids that our kids come into contact with are taught to be kind. To be helpful and courteous and considerate. Yet as I sat there at dance the other night, watching this unfold right in front of me, all I could do for an instant was be incredibly sad. How can our children learn this sort of behavior when we as thirty-something year old mothers can’t get it right?!
We Can Do Better
Trust me, I know some days are hard, mamas. I do. I’m right there in the trenches too. Long days and short years. Trying to do it all, do it well and make it look easy. I know we are all tired and just doing the best we can. No one understands this feeling the way another mom does. It can be a hard and oh so lonely road. A road so simultaneously joyful that you think your heart will burst one second, followed immediately by trying like hell not to lose your ever loving shit in the next. It’s incredible and exhausting. This is exactly why we simply can not keep failing each other.
This mom and I sat there for a moment, both stunned, disappointed and unsure of what to do next. I didn’t know what to do or say. I didn’t feel like I had anything special to offer her that she hadn’t probably already heard or tried. But these are the words that I managed to form… “You’re doing great mama.”
How many times in your “mommy career” would it have made all the difference to just have a little reassurance? With all of the pressure, the judging, the ways we imagine that we’re screwing it all up…what would those few simple words have done for you? I know what it would have done for me and I know what it did for her (because she told me as we talked for another 20 minutes).
We are failing, but not in all of the ways that we think we are. We don’t need to be perfect. Our homes, kids, food and clothes don’t have to be amazing all of the time. What we should strive for instead is much simpler and far less stressful. Be kind. Stop failing our fellow mom and support each other. Be the kind of friend you’d want if you were struggling. You know, all of the same things we’re trying to teach our children. How about we all stop telling them what to do and we start really showing them how it’s done?