“I feel like I’m doing everything wrong. You make it look so easy, I had no idea it would be this hard.” I realized then that moms need friends on the hard days that will be honest.
These words stopped me in my tracks and filled me with guilt. They were spoken to me by a dear friend who had become a mom for the first time just a few weeks earlier, and I knew both the truth and the absurdity of her feelings.
I knew it wasn’t easy, but I also knew what it felt like to think it was for everyone else.
I apologized to this precious new mom, over and over.
I’d warned her of the miserable parts of pregnancy, nodded knowingly along when she complained about constipation and acne and how weird everything smelled.
I’d offered up breastfeeding advice, diapering tips, even relationship help, but I hadn’t shared with her about the realities beyond the mechanics of mothering.
I’d given her plenty of stuff to think about when it came to going through the motions, but hadn’t shared openly and honestly about what it felt like to deal with the emotions.
She saw, like most people do, the social media posts.
The first day of school pictures where everyone is in nice, clean clothes with huge smiles and brushed hair – those don’t look like most mornings where we’re all running late, someone can’t find their left shoe, and there’s a mysterious stain on a uniform shirt that I’m almost positive I washed.
She saw what I’d shared, and what I’d shared, while real, wasn’t the whole story.
The whole story, the days we feel alone and incapable and bloated, those are the days we have to share with one another.
Maybe not online, maybe not all the time, but with each other, with other moms. We have to have friends we can be honest with.
We have to be the friend that someone else can be honest with.
We can’t be the only ones struggling through this motherhood thing, so why do we act as though we have to keep it to ourselves? Why do we make it harder for other moms when we ignore and protect the harsh realities of it all?
We mom for our kids, not for the kudos, so let’s be honest with our friends and let it all out.
It’s hard, being a mom. We love it, but it’s hard.
Society puts enough pressure on us, we put enough pressure on ourselves, so it’s time we allow ourselves the luxury, the necessity of venting to our friends about the raw truth of it all.
We need friends who will encourage us, agree with us, convince us that using fruit snacks and YouTube to buy 30 minutes of quiet time is a form of self care.
We need friends who will tell us their struggles, share their failures, to remind us that none of us has this perfectly figured out.
We need friends who are as encouraged by our mishaps as they are by our successes, friends who take joy in our good days and in knowing they’re not alone in having bad ones.
We need friends who will look past the mess on the outside and address the mess on the inside. We need friends who can see past the façade on the outside and call us out on the mess it’s hiding.
We need friends who embrace and accept our mess. We need friends who aren’t ashamed to be seen in their own mess.
We need friends who will be the Thelma to our Louise and grasp our hand as we leap off the cliff called motherhood.
Moms know birth hurts. They know babies poop, they know there are multiple ways to feed infants, and they’ve learned quick enough to brace themselves before sneezing.
Moms don’t need more “how-to’s”, they need more “this is how I survived”. Moms need to know it’s hard before they fall into the trap of believing the only reason it’s hard is because they’re bad at it.
Motherhood is hard. It’s supposed to be. But it’s not supposed to be isolating, it isn’t supposed to be an impossible standard, and it’s not something we’re intended to do alone.
Moms need honesty. Moms need reality. Moms need understanding. Moms need naps, fruit snacks, comfort, encouragement. Moms need empathy. Moms need safety.
But more than anything, moms need each other.