That mom. She’s thinner, cooler, has more friends. She’s got better-behaved kids, a husband who loves her more, a better home. She’s a better speaker, corporate climber. That mom. She’s so organized. She just ran a marathon and then made cupcakes for the third grade class. She smiles all the time, posts pictures of herself looking too cute for age 40. She dresses more fashionably. That mom. People pretend they love her, but…
If we’re honest, far too many of us compare, envy, watch. We wonder if that mom over there is doing it better, if we’ve got this mothering, aging-female thing all wrong. We note what “that mom” has, that we don’t. We see what she just did, that we could never do. We watch her pass by us to chat with somebody else—someone more “that momish.”
Or worse, some of us (I imagine?) think at times that we ARE that mom. We allow ourselves to believe we’re cool, popular, hip, we’re invited to all the parties, we’re liked by everybody. And what a heap of pressure that is. Because— at the end of the day, we’re alone. We’re getting older. We’re disappointing somebody, making mistakes. We know we’re not so neat, not quite so lovable all the time. We still lose our tempers, still pickup dirty socks, still dread making dinner, still cringe at the smell of that one aisle at the grocery store. See, we’re all more similar than we know. Even the cool ones get wrinkles and cellulite. They do. I’m pretty sure that some successful moms snore, some get depressed, get ill, lose their tempers and sometimes they look really bad in the morning.
Maybe you’re thinking— not me! I love every second of my life, my family does exactly what I want. I have the strongest faith and every day I wake up looking FABULOUS. I envy no one. Well then, you’re God and this particular blog post doesn’t apply to you. You can move on, and enjoy nirvana.
But for the rest of us mere moms, we’re in this together. We’re trying to balance the just-getting-by-necessary-crap with the purposeful moments. We’re attempting to find meaning in another hour, in our souls, while ignoring the beeps on our phones, packing lunches, piling kids into cars, maybe working, and if we’re lucky wearing a cute outfit and earrings.
But often we don’t tell this stuff. We market the other mom.
We post perfect pictures, perfect messages or just way too many messages about ourselves on Facebook. Maybe we don’t do Facebook (because we’re above that mom who does, of course) but we’re overly sarcastic, we only tell fun stories, cool stuff, or no stuff at all when we see other moms.
Many of us, if we're honest, behave sometimes like counterfeit moms— and in doing so, we hurt each other. If we fake who we are, other moms might really think that we wake up with our wrinkles invisible and our eyelashes thick. Other moms might believe we go on vacations without stress, money is no object, that our husbands worship us, and nobody fights. According to how we dress, to the stories we share— other moms may believe that we never dribble coffee on ourselves, our kids are quiet in restaurants, and tall snow covered mountains are simple to climb with preschoolers, for heaven’s sake.
Other moms might think we’re never lonely, that we always make people around us happy. If we post too many perfect pics (and not some imperfect glimpses,) only sharing our successes or our super cool experiences at every party, museum and restaurant in Europe— other moms might believe that we’re always included, we never feel crappy, never miss our husbands, that we can actually bake a hundred perfect cookies with our second grader while helping our sixth grader study for a test and prepare dinner.
If we create an image based on BS, we might actually start believing the BS too. And then we might wake in the night with the truth blaring through our silly brains— YOU’RE NOT PERFECT. You’re just a little person, a mom human.
When our kid doesn’t do his homework, or gets suspended, or gets diagnosed with autism, or tries drugs, or when our kid goes to the hospital and we tell other moms (and ourselves) “All is fine. Really! I’ve got this covered.” We lie. We damage our ability to connect, to get support. We harm other moms who might actually believe us. We hurt the other mom who, upon hearing our lie, might expect that such lack of emotional needs, such denial, should exist in her own life.
When we suffer marital problems and tell our friends— “It hurts, but that’s life.” The other mom who suffers with marital problems, abuse or infidelity may get the wrong message. Though she might feel terrified or depressed, she could believe that she’s to blame. She might not take action to help herself.
When we suffer with cancer, loss of a loved one, a financial crisis, or any crisis, we have an opportunity to reach out and share the truth, not only to heal ourselves, but to help others heal, too.
So maybe “that mom” with the perfect looking everything— she needs something. She needs you and me to tell her that we’ll accept the not-pretty-parts of her life. We’ll accept her despite her perfect or ugly dress, her excellent or imperfect parenting. We’ll grow closer to her because of her hard moments, not despite them. We'll forgive her for being perfect, but also for being messy or late or stressed out. We'll overlook the times she says the wrong thing, for the way she doesn’t please everybody...because we'll see that she's just like you and I. She's a mere mom. A human.
Maybe “that mom” needs us because, in the end, perhaps we’re all that mom… Aren’t we?