You know that mom you see at school drop-off every morning? The mom whose hair is perfectly coiffed, her makeup is always done, her clothes are stylish and expensive, she may or may not work outside the home, her children are always perfectly dressed and perfectly behaved, and she volunteers at every school function? She never shows up to school drop-off in her sweats, messy bun, yesterday’s makeup, the baby’s spit-up on her stretched-out and holey t-shirt, while slugging down as much coffee as her system can take. Nope, not the Perfect Mom. Her life seems perfect and she makes it seem so effortless, and you wonder why you’re not that mom.
I’m not that mom either. I don’t even think that mom is that mom.
Parenting is hard. Full stop. End of sentence. It’s hard. I often think of the slogan that the Peace Corps © uses about how they are the toughest job you’ll ever love and it relates to how I feel about parenting. It’s so hard, and overwhelming, and exhausting, and taken me to the limit of all my extremes, and yet I fiercely love all of my children so much that I would die for them.
I’ve been there in the trenches with my kids fighting to ensure them the best future possible. I’ve been there at 2:00 a.m. when they were sick and throwing up on me and sleep was an elusive fantasy. I’ve been there when my child struggled to read and I had to fight for her to get all the educational help she was entitled to. I was in the trenches when my kids were bullied by the neighbor kid whose parents took no responsibility nor tried to correct their child’s behavior. I’ve been in the trenches when my kids struggled with school assignments, friendships, Scouting, sports, music lessons, growing pains, sibling rivalry, on and on, ad infinitum.
Sometimes I’ve fought those battles with a dirty t-shirt, underwear I’ve worn for days, and stained sweatpants on. Sometimes I’ve fought those battles in a pantsuit and power heels. And sometimes I’ve fought them with a sweatshirt with the school’s mascot and a simple pair of jeans on.
The point is, as a mother I was willing to fight those battles for and with my kids no matter how I looked, felt, or was perceived by the other parents at school.
That mom who we think is so perfect and must have a problem-free life, is fighting those battles for and with her kids too.
We can never know the inner workings of anyone else’s life. I do know that everyone else that I see on the street, in the grocery store, in line at the Post Office, and at school drop off has a life that is as vivid as mine. They all have people they love deeply, worries that weigh on their heart, and hurts so deep it’s amazing they got out of bed and participated in life that day. Their lives are just as real and important as mine.
So when I see the Perfect Mom with her perfect hair, makeup, clothes, children, and life at school drop-off I try to remember that her life is just as hard as mine. Maybe some things in her life are easier for her than they are in mine. And maybe in some ways my life is easier than hers. I’ll never know. We’ll never know.
So in the meantime I’m cutting my fellow moms, wearing a power suit or a pair of sweatpants, some well-deserved slack. Including myself.