Saturday, October 4, 2014

To All The "Mom-petitors" Out There....

This is something that has been weighing on my heart and my mind so heavily lately. I feel like it's everywhere I turn, and it has become an exhausting challenge to avoid it. 

It's mom competition. I thought teenage girls were bad. Whoa. Moms take it to a whole new level. 

It seems like there are so many women out there who just seem to think that they are doing this SO much better than anybody else. Or at least they want everyone to BELIEVE they are doing this so much better than anybody else. And it's breaking my heart that I associate with so many of them, and as a result, I have found myself in a deep, dark hole. Doubting myself as a mother, and as a woman. 

I recently spent two weeks having slipped back into a state of depression that I haven't experienced since college. And for what? Because other women chose to make themselves feel better by making ME feel bad. And you know what? I let them. 

I let them convince me that I wasn't good enough. I wasn't worthy of the beautiful life God has blessed me with. Above that, that I wasn't worthy of my two gorgeous boys. I let their voices be louder and stronger than God's. I let them take over my heart and get into my head in ways that NO mother ever should. I spent days crying, feeling defeated, feeling worthless, feeling like I had NO right to be a mother, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a child of God. 

I wasted two weeks. I let them win for two weeks. Not anymore.

So let me just be real. I'm not a sugar coater, a "everything is perfect" kind of gal. I tell it how it is. The good, the bad, the pretty, the ugly. I'm real. I don't like to lie and cover things up to make things look nicer. Who is that benefiting? Nobody. In fact, it would probably make other moms feel like crap suddenly because they think I have it all together and they don't. Well let me tell ya…..I don't have it all together. Not even close. Here's all the ugly.

My pregnancies aren't perfect; they're hard. Really, really hard. So no, I don't LOVE being pregnant. It's not my favorite season of life. There are parts I absolutely adore. Feeling my baby flutter. Watching him move around. Hearing his heartbeat. Seeing his face on ultrasounds. But there are other parts that are just downright hard. Getting shots weekly. Taking mountains of medication every day. Spending months in and out of the hospital. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Look what I got for it. But just because I wasn't glowing and telling everyone how amazing it is every single second, apparently means I'm not grateful. Wrong. I am SO grateful. So grateful for the miracles I have been blessed with. Grateful for the science that made it possible for me to carry those two babies as long as I did. Grateful for the experience because it made me realize THAT MUCH MORE how precious life is. I am so grateful. But I don't think it was all rainbows and butterflies. Sorry, not sorry.

I didn't breastfeed. Oh my God. Hold it. What? I'm a demon. I should burn in hell. Right? Wrong. I couldn't do it. Physically, my body couldn't do it. Emotionally, I couldn't do it. I beat myself up for MONTHS after each boy was born over the fact that I couldn't do it. I let myself feel like such a failure. And then I realized that my formula fed babies are just as loved, just as close to me, just as healthy. They're fine. We're all ok. And I was ok with it. And then I let other mothers make me feel bad again. Don't I know what they're missing out on? That's why they don't bounce back from colds as fast as others. They're never going to be as smart as that breast fed baby. STOP. None of that is true. And even if it was, so what?? I made a choice that was right for ME and for MY FAMILY. Just like you made the choices for yours. I don't criticize you for breastfeeding, that's insane. Part of me envies you. Other parts of me thank God that my husband could help with 3AM feedings when I just couldn't hold myself up anymore. I promise you, my boys are so fiercely loved, and that has NOTHING to do with where their food came from. 

I vaccinate. Yep. Shoot 'em up with crazy things every few months. That's what is right for US. It's MY peace of mind that they are protected from ungodly illnesses. I trust the science behind them, and that's that. I don't think you're less of a mom if you don't vaccinate. I know how loved your babies are. I know that you're doing what you feel is best for them. I applaud you. Good for you! YOU'RE the mom, you make the call. Same applies to me. So stop telling me I'm poisoning my kids. I don't think I am. And I won't tell you that you're careless and crazy. Because I don't think you are. 

My kid eats sweets. Cookies, cupcakes, ice cream. You name it. Does he do it every day? Nope. Does he live off of processed, high sugar, crap? Nope. But he does have it. Obviously more than some mothers approve of. That's ok. I'm letting him be a kid. I'm not going to deny him those things just because someone else shakes their head at it. And the subtle jabs in this department are insaaaaaaaane. I post a picture of my kid with a  cupcake, another mom posts a picture of carrot sticks saying how sick she is of seeing pictures of kids and sweets. Ok. Then don't follow me. Because I'm not going to stop. My kids get three well balanced meals a day. Fruit with each, veggies with lunch and dinner. They are strong, healthy boys. Right at the 50th percentile for weight, 75th for height, and guess what…..their heads are above 90!!!! Who knows….maybe the vaccines and sugar are so poisonous that their heads are exploding. Or maybe they're just so damn smart from their formula that they're brains are HUGE. Or maybe that's just them. And none of the rest of that matters. 

Did you know that there are preschools far superior to where I'm sending my child? And that it's important that I know that? Yeah, me neither. But I know now. This is the one that never phased me, for even a second. "Well MY kids school does THIS….." "His school doesn't do THIS?" My child ended up exactly where he is supposed to be. I am 120% certain. I'm more sure every time I drop him off and his teacher hugs and kisses him like he is her own. When he's so excited to go. When I get the chance to talk with the amazing women that I am now fortunate enough to call my friends. When I see him laughing and playing with his friends. When we are driving and he starts telling me about Jesus and how much He loves him. His school is perfect for HIM. I truly am SO glad that your child is in a  school that you feel is the best. That really IS great. Every parent should have that feeling, and every child deserves that opportunity. So I'm SO happy for you. But please don't try to convince me that mine is inferior. It's not. Don't make me call the state and get scores. 

And this is all just the MOM stuff. Don't even get me started on how I'm apparently horrible as a woman. I drink more pop than water. I don't run 4 miles every day. I dye my hair. I buy way too many clothes. I have been known to go through the drive thru. And use a can of "cream of something or another" as part of a recipe instead of going out back, wrangling the chicken, killing him, and cooking him up from scratch. I'm lucky if I get to shower every other day. 

Go ahead and call me guilty of trying to make others feel worse. And I will PROMISE you, I would NEVER want that. I've been in that dark place. I would NEVER wish that upon anyone. When I post a video of my kid walking at 10 months, it's not because I want to rub it in your face that yours didn't walk until 18 months, or that I think he's better. Not at all. It's because I'm his MOM and I'm SO proud and excited for him (annnnnnd, a little terrified….TWO walking boys? AH!). When I say that my kid sings his ABC's from sun up to sun down, honest to God, NOT trying to brag. Really probably more like complain because you can only hear that song so many times. I'm learning which women in my life I can say these things to, and which I can't. The ones I can are always excited with me, or sympathize with my pain over the alphabet. The ones I can't need to one up me; need to make me realize that because their child was breastfed he can say his ABC's in Spanish, but only twice a day because that's more socially acceptable. And only when he's eating his daily servings of granola and mango.

But on the flip side of that.... I'll also post a picture of the entire box of rice that my kid spilled all over the kitchen floor, my other kid slipped in, now everyone is crying, and I'm wondering who the hell ever thought I was capable of raising two boys. Surely, someone is up there laughing at me. My point? I'm not just going to show you the good, amazing things. No, I'm going to show you the messy, ridiculous things too.

I will probably always compare myself to other women. I think it's just my nature. Someone will always be prettier. Be dressed better. Have better hair. Be more patient with her child. Seem like a better wife. I'm really trying to stop this cycle, but it seems inevitable. BUT. I'm slowly realizing that it's all ok. It's ok if she's prettier and has nicer clothes. Applaud her for finding the time to put herself together, and be ok with the fact that I chose to sleep for 10 extra minutes instead. It's ok if she's more patient with her child (and her husband). I love mine just the same. Stronger than anybody realizes. 

Here's my point. Let's all just stop. Please. Every mother is doing her best. She really is. Just because her best doesn't look like your best, doesn't mean a DAMN THING. We're different. Aren't we all trying to teach our children that everybody is unique and different? And we should love them all the same? So why aren't we taking our own advice? 

I'm such a strong believer that girls criticize, and women empower. Let's be WOMEN. For the sake of our sanity. And for our kids. And our husbands. 

God made us to spread good and love. Not criticism and hatred. Not to make others feel like less, but to build them up. Motherhood can be lonely and isolating. Why make it harder? Look at that mother standing across from you and realize that she is going through the same things you are. She faces the same challenges, she wants the same things. Just because she goes about them differently does NOT make her unworthy.

And take a look at social media for what it's worth too. All those moms that seem perfect….they only post the pretty, never the ugly. Trust me, there's ugly too. And those same women are the ones quickest to make a statement about your ugly. That's ok. Be REAL. Show the ugly. But don't forget the pretty too. Let us NEVER forget that motherhood can be beautiful too.  

The point of all this nonsense is this: NO mother is perfect. And trying to be MUST be exhausting. Just trying to be "good" is draining me. So to those of you who choose to put others down, and paint pretty pictures of yourselves, let me challenge you. Challenge you to take those walls down. Be REAL. Show your ugly. The rest of us aren't here to judge. We're here to say "we're all the same". You make people like me think a bad day is the worst thing in the world. I'm here to make people like you realize that I KNOW you have bad days too. So stop telling us all you don't. Just let it out. Cry if you have to. We're not going to judge. We're going to hug you. And tell you to let it go. Because we ALL need that sometimes. Including you "perfect" people. 

Now….carry on. I'm about to go pick up my vaccinated, bottle fed crazy kid from his less than perfect preschool and bring him home to eat something sweet. Because he's cute. And I think he deserves it. 

….And just for good measure….let's throw in some Garth Brooks. Because I heard this the other day in the car (on my way home from ordering TWO cakes for my son to smash to his hearts content in celebration of turning one….both laden with sugar), and it's kind of exactly what I'm trying to say here. Just in better tune and much more eloquently.

People loving people,
That's the enemy of everything that's evil
Ain't no quick fix at the end of a needle
It's just people loving people
Words aren't what they seem to be
Talk is cheap, but lies are free
We fear what we don't understand
We've been scared since time began
All the colors and the cultures circle 'round us on a spindle
It's a complicated riddle, but the solution is so simple
It's people loving people