I’m thinking of several women, some close friends and some mere acquaintances, who have confided, “This is hard!” with a look of fatigue and sometimes even desperation, yet a desire to give their children the best that they possibly can. Amen, sister. I completely agree and I feel you. We are talking about motherhood.
I have been through a few pretty difficult things in my life. I would like to say that, despite those unfortunate circumstances, I have always managed at least some level of resilience. But motherhood? It has brought me to my knees. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. Juggling motherhood on top of everything else (being a wife, work/career, maintaining social life, contributing to our community/society, all of the “adult” things) has made me feel most inadequate. I can’t do it all! Or at least I cannot do it all perfectly…..but I think that’s a whole new topic I will save for another blog post….
To continue, while motherhood is taxing to say the least, it has also been one of the most beautiful, rewarding, fulfilling, life-changing (in a good way) things to ever happen in my life. What a paradox. So difficult, yet so easy to love this beautiful creature I have been blessed with. So draining, yet so fulfilling. Mind-numbing frustration at times, then other times heart-melting joy and pride.
Is it ok to say how hard this is? YES!!!!! Please, can we just be honest with each other? Drop the façade that we have it all together all of the time? Support each other during the rough times and encourage each other to do our best? In her book, Out of the Spin Cycle, Jen Hatmaker states, “We are masters at propping up our lives….Can we just let the posturing go? Can we speak truth to each other and reach out for help when we need it? Can we admit our failures and stop worrying about what someone might think? Can we allow others to be the same people on the outside as they are on the inside? Can we live real lives in front of each other, imperfect in our humanity…?”
We are biologically made to need each other. We are social beings. Brene Brown, in her TED talk entitled, “The Power of Vulnerability,” talks about shame and vulnerability and how they relate to connection. She states, “Connection is why we are here. It’s how we are wired. It gives purpose and meaning to our lives. Shame completely unravels connection. Shame is the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me that, if seen by others, would make me unworthy of connection? It is universal. We all have it. The only people who don’t have shame are incapable of empathy or connection. In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen.”
We often allow the things that create shame in our lives to keep us from this thing that gives us strength and encouragement and joy and lets us know that we are not alone in our struggles: our support system. The old proverb is true, “It takes a village.” We need each other. We need our village. Being vulnerable and transparent enough to share our deepest struggles with our closest people is difficult and scary, but it is essential to our well-being. It is the only way we can be known and receive the support that we need.
In Out of the Spin Cycle, Jen Hatmaker describes it so well when she says, “Friends help you uphold the heavy responsibility of motherhood and remind you you’re not crazy. They don’t complain when your kids interrupt your phone conversation every twelve seconds. They gladly enter the parenting discussions that our husbands lose patience with after only the fourth time. Friends don’t even bat an eye when you burst out crying for no good reason….My friends are the reason I survived young motherhood….We share the burden of parenting, making it lighter for everyone to carry. We’ll remind our friends to laugh and call forward the best in each other.”
Let’s throw in with each other, support each other, encourage each other, help each other, celebrate with each other, cry with each other, truly be there for each other through thick and thin. We need people in our lives who will have fun and celebrate the happy times with us, yes, but also listen to the things we feel most shameful about without judging us and by meeting us where we are at during the really rough times. I believe we all want this, but we have to be willing to not only be there for our fellow mamas but also make ourselves vulnerable enough to allow them to be there for us.
Do you have a village? What is stopping you from forming or being a part of a village? Reach out to another mom or group of moms.
Or maybe you already have a village, but they have no idea what you truly struggle with. Show up. Be vulnerable. Create an atmosphere of safety. Show them it’s ok to be vulnerable and they will probably do the same. Want a friend? Be a friend.