Hey there, Mama. Having a tough day? I feel ya. The house is a mess. The kiddos are bouncing off the walls, some might even be coloring on the walls. Who knows? You can't remember your last shower. Make-up is a thing of the past. You feel like all you wear are sweats and baby-slobbered shirts. You've dealt with tantrums, with meltdowns, with refusals of all kinds. Instead of a three-course meal straight off the food pyramid, your children had chicken nuggets and fries. Maybe more than once this week. Cereal for dinner? At least it's food, right?
Sound familiar, Mama? Yeah, I know. It's really familiar to me too. It can be easy to look at Facebook and Instagram with their filtered photos and popular mommy blogs and think, "I am the worst mother on earth." But you're being entirely too harsh on yourself and giving those other moms entirely too much credit (not that your mama friends aren't all amazing). Guess what? That mom you think is Supermom? Yesterday her child refused to eat supper. Oh, but what about Awesome Mama? Yeah, her child is in time-out for the fourth time today. Talking back is a real issue, you know. Oh and Gorgeous Mom missed her shower today and yesterday and hasn't had a chance to brush her hair, let alone put make-up on.
"What's your point, Jess?" you may be asking.
I'm getting there, I promise.
The picture above is me today. I could tell you when my last shower was, but I won't. Let's just keep it at it wasn't today or yesterday or the day before that or...yeah, let's just leave it there. No make-up on today or most days. Granted, I've never been much of a make-up person to begin with, but definitely none today. My children and I just finished our oh-so-healthy lunch of ramen noodles. For the third day in a row. I'm wearing an old camp shirt because it's comfy, but certainly not my most flattering piece of apparel. And last night, my Prince Charming was feeling romantic and I said, "Not tonight, sweetie. I just feel gross. I need a shower, but I'm too dang tired right now and don't want to go to bed with wet hair anyway."
He said something that made me feel a million times better. "You might feel gross, but I still think you're beautiful." It didn't earn him any "playtime" (sorry, sweetie, I'll make it up to you). But it reminded me that even on my off days when my hair is a mess and I've been in pajamas all day, my Prince Charming still sees me as the beautiful woman he married.
Many people have told me how they admire me and can't imagine being able to do all the things I do while having three young children. Those who know I'm currently expecting are even more in awe. But the truth is, I'm not as together as y'all would like to think I am. I've got a book in progress that was supposed to be released a month and a half ago. Guess what? I haven't even finished writing it. Because of other commitments, that one is on the backburner and will stay there. Probably until fall when my writing schedule *might* open up again. Then again, that's when my baby is due, so...
As for being SuperMom, trust me, I'm nowhere near SuperMom. Yep, my kiddos and I do a lot of crafts together. But they don't always pan out well. And often my children do crafts without my immediate knowledge. The price of getting absorbed by my writing, I guess. Two days ago, my kiddos asked to paint and since I'm pretty laid back, I agreed. Guess who's going to be scrubbing purple paint off her table for the next forever? Yep, this mama here. And guess who will have to buy a new container of purple paint on her next shopping trip? Right again, this mom. Our meals aren't always healthy. I'm rarely a picture of absolute beauty (my parents, in-laws, and husband are not allowed to disagree because you're all biased and I love you for it). I have my off days. I have them often.
The current trend would be for me to feel guilty about all of this. To be honest, I don't. Not even a little. Ramen noodles might not be the healthiest lunch option in the world. But, it's fast and easy to make, my children like it, and they will eat it. I usually do my best to make sure our meals are balanced and healthy. As a result, I have children who are healthy and energetic. Too energetic in my opinion, but they didn't ask me. I could feel guilty about the fact that I haven't showered yet (though it is next on my list, so don't worry it will happen). Or I could rejoice in the fact that I've been able to spend time with my kiddos and enjoy their quirky little personalities. I could focus on how all the other moms appear to be doing, or I could just take care of me and mine.
That's why I don't feel guilty. I have been so incredibly blessed with the children I have. Some of the struggles my mama friends lament about are ones I haven't had to deal with. At the same time though, the struggles I do face are ones they might not have. This whole mamahood thing isn't easy. It's tough. There are great days, and there are dragged-through-the-mud terrible days. Feeling guilty about not being as good as SuperMom or Awesome Mama or Gorgeous Mom or any of your other mama friends is not going to help you feel any better about your parenting. It will only make you feel worse. It won't help you improve, because we all can, and it's not going to change how they're doing either. Embrace your unique mamahood. You are awesome. If your child is clothed (or at least owns clothes, I know some of us are dealing with little strippers), fed, sheltered, and loved, then you are an awesome mama. *You* are SuperMom. And if you're one of my daddy friends reading this, that absolutely applies to you as well (just insert dad, papa, or daddy as appropriate).
Keep on keepin' on, mama friends. And don't worry about what the other mamas are doing. Just keep being awesome and amazing YOU.
Jessica L. Elliott
Author, artist, mom and super-genius