I didn’t start to truly understand the importance of friendship between women until I was in my 30’s. When I was younger, I always said it was easier being friends with guys, citing reasons like drama and backstabbing. As I have gotten older though, I have realized the incredible power in women supporting women. There are going to be people who aren’t genuine and don’t have your back in life, male or female, and the relationships between women are powerful. This is especially true for mom friends.
I’ve been meaning to write this blog for months. A few months back, in a moment of anger and frustration, I made a personal post on social media expressing frustration over women that have much support and even a partner that is currently out of town/state complaining about being single mothers. I said their feelings weren’t valid. I said they weren’t single moms and didn’t deserve to put themselves in the same category as moms like me who are without any support from a partner or my children’s father, financially or otherwise. In that moment of frustration over my personal life, and even jealousy, I did exactly the opposite of what I preach about women supporting women. I was tearing women down. As you can imagine, the post blew up with comments from all sides. I eventually had to delete it, but even once deleted, I couldn’t take back the negativity I had put out into the world. I couldn’t take back where I had taken frustration from my own struggles and used it as a way to put down other women. This behavior is normally out of character for me, but that night, I put ugliness out into the world. I was incredibly embarrassed, and I deeply regretted putting anyone down.
I talk often about women lifting up other women because it is incredibly important to me. As I’ve gone through hard moments in life, I’ve had the most uplifting words, advice, and acts of service from other women. This is often true of women that are older, more wise, and more experienced. They have been there. They have struggled. They have felt alone. So they know the best ways to help and reach out to younger women.
I recently sat at the dining room table with my very best friend, and as we were surrounded by rowdy kids, a naked toddler, and a fussy nursing baby, we discussed being moms and the support we really need. We are in very different seasons of motherhood and have very different lives. I am a single working mother, and my kids are now teenagers. She has 5 little ones ages 10 and under, is a (wonderful) stay at home mother that homeschools, and does whatever she can to help support her hardworking husband. I had children much younger than she did, and we discussed the ways that mothers need help regardless of age, number of children, and marital/relationship status. We talked about the saying, it takes a village to raise a child, and how much truth that holds.
While some mamas have mothers and sisters that provide loving support, there are many mamas out there without that support. There is a lot of pressure on us in today’s society to be super women…to be able to handle parenting, have well-behaved, clean, happy children, work, survive on sleep deprivation, keep clean houses, take care of ourselves, keep in shape, please our men, be desirable, and still be social–all without support from anyone else. Well, you know what? I’m telling you that’s a load of crap. For one, it’s impossible to do and be all of those things all the time. For two, we weren’t meant to have so much on our plates without help from others. In American culture, there’s become an intense pressure surrounding being mothers and stretching ourselves thin and the more on our plates the better, like it’s the fashionable thing to do. Women post on social media about all that they are accomplishing or all that they have to do and take care of, and then other women compare themselves and see all of their flaws and ways that they are falling short. Stop this! When you are comparing yourself to the mom that seems to have it so much more together than you, you forget that you are comparing that mom’s highlight reel to your lowest moments. The mom speaking on social media about where she is doing great in one area isn’t talking about where she is falling short in another area. We are ALL struggling in one way or another, but most of us aren’t willing to post about it. We talk about long hours at work or the amazing dinner we are cooking, but we don’t talk about how there’s been dishes sitting dirty on the counter for 3 days, or the same load of laundry in the washer that’s been washed who knows how many times because we keep forgetting to throw it in the dryer, or how we can’t remember the last time we’ve had sex with our life partner because exhaustion makes sleep more important than intimacy for weeks and even months at a time.
Now, I am not saying we should all post all of our ugly mommy moments on social media, or that we should not talk about our good and strong moments either. What I am saying is that moms need to stick together. Be real with your good girlfriends. Talk openly and honestly about your struggles because chances are, they can relate and have their own struggles they want to talk to you about. We all need loving support. We all need good friends we can tell about how we had a moment where we were so angry with our children, we wanted to physically hurt them, or how we lost it and screamed so loud that we fear the neighbor might question our parenting skills, or how we have worn the same pajamas and unbrushed messy bun for 2 days in a row and skipped a shower in favor of 15 more minutes of sleep and bathed with a baby wipe. Have you let your preschooler watch some obnoxious kids’ TV show for far too long just to have some peace for a while? Have you fed your kids McDonald’s for dinner 3 nights this week because you’re worn out? Have you let your 5 year old go to bed in his favorite new rubber boots because you just didn’t have the fight in you to battle making him take them off? Have you thrown out Tupperware that sat too long in the fridge because it’s just easier to buy more than to wash out last week’s molded spaghetti? This and so much more… guess what? We have all been there. There’s so much mommy shaming though that we don’t feel safe to acknowledge these hard moments.
So this is what I would like for you to do:
- Be real and honest with your friends. Be the example they need. You just might inspire that for them, which then inspires it for others, and so on. Let’s put an end to the judgmental mommy shaming. Also, ask for help when you need it. There is no shame in that.
- Stop comparing yourself to others on social media. Remember that you are only seeing a tiny snippet of what others are saying and then comparing your worst moments to these great moments that make it online. Allow yourself to be real on social media as well. Don’t pretend life is perfect when it is not. It is okay to say you’re stretched thin, tired, and overwhelmed.
- Be there in practical ways for other moms that need it. Do you have a mom friend that just had a new baby or is just struggling in general? Show up with dinner for the whole family, and maybe even a bottle of wine. Go over and do the dishes or fold the mountain of clean laundry that’s become a living room couch decoration. Pick up the kids and take them to the park to give mama some time to just breathe. Offer to babysit for a date night, or better yet, if you can afford the splurge, offer to babysit AND buy a gift card for your favorite restaurant for the couple. Just be there in the ways you would like someone to be there for yourself.
- When you find yourself getting ready to mommy shame others, stop yourself and try to put yourself in the other mom’s shoes. We all fail at times, and we all make mistakes. Spread love and kindness instead.
- Share this blog with your mom friends. We all need a reminder that our real, messy, true lives are normal and understood.
I know this one was on the long side, but I’ve been holding it all in for so long that I had to share it all. To the moms that I offended and hurt that night with my angry rant, I am sorry. I pride myself on being the kind of person that will freely admit when I’m wrong, and I was really wrong that night. I hope you can forgive me.
Stick together, mamas. We are each other’s village.
This was a great reminder for me…
When I sit down to write, I normally have a specific topic and some kind of outline I intend to follow. Every once in a while though, my heart is just full and the only clear path I have is to just actually open the computer and let my fingers go. Today is the latter.
Heartbreak…. Man, oh man, heartbreak. It’s something we all are familiar with, but it’s one of those things that unless you are in the thick of it, it’s easy to forget how difficult it can be. Sadly, for this, I’m also currently experiencing the latter. In. The. Thick. Of. It. The crazy thing about this heartbreak though is that it’s a complex mix of emotions. More complex than I have ever experienced before. I didn’t initiate it, but I should have. Things weren’t right and we both knew it. I’m a sap though and loyal to a freakin’ fault, so out of love, I kept trying.
While he initiated it, even while it stung and hurt and part of me didn’t want it, I still knew it was the right thing. What I did not realize was how much it still would hurt. So what do I do now? My financial situation is up in the air and I need to come up with a plan, and quickly. In fact, everything is up in the air, and it is terrifying. I hate the way it feels, stress constantly tearing my stomach up, nights spent tossing and turning and not being able to sleep deeply for long, and being exhausted, but sleep not easily coming either. I did not want to be here again! And even more than that, I didn’t want my kids to be here again.
So here we are, having a brand new start again. Once again, I’m trying to figure out what will probably end up being a second job, and figuring out what our new normal is. The one thing I know for sure though is that I want to be okay by myself. In fact, I want to be happy by myself. I don’t want to live my life looking forward to the someday when I will inevitably meet someone new. I’ve been on a journey of self-love for a little bit now, and I definitely intend to keep that up.
I am worthy of love, self-respect, happiness, stability, and a good life, even if it is alone. These are my current goals. I know we are going to be okay. So for me and my almost grown babies, it’s upward and onward, baby!
Tears…I’ve cried so many tears lately that I should probably drink an extra bottle of water just to combat dehydration. Seriously though, I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m an emotional human being and it’s just not something I can change. When you take that combined with my deceased daughter’s birthday, being disconnected from my family, and several other personal issues, I’ve done much crying.
Part of what has been very difficult in the past several months is my questioning of my faith. Once I was questioning it, suddenly my entire foundation in life seemed to be sand. I’ve been struggling for months with whether or not I even believed there was a God. Lately though, I’ve realized how much desperation I feel if I am not a believer.
If there’s no God, then I feel like life has lost purpose. Hope has lost purpose. Pain has lost purpose. There’s no path then or greater purpose. There’s nothing bigger than me to place my hurts, hopes, and fears. I didn’t realize it, but this had become this crazy heavy rock in my chest all the time. The craziest part about that too is that I can’t even remember what made me start to doubt, other than being angry that life feels hard for me. In my own stubborn nature, I lashed out as if I could hurt God’s feelings by my doubt. I began to believe my own rebellion and question everything I’ve ever had faith in.
The Turning Point
In the last couple of days, I’ve listened to more Christian music than I’ve listened to in a long time. I allowed myself to feel comfort in it. I was driving this morning, and suddenly it hit me how much I have gotten in my own way. I may not have the answers, but God is there. It’s only been in my own stubbornness that I’ve held my own heart back. I realized I’m safe to have faith and hope. I’m safe to believe that I’m not alone. I have a safety net. I can allow myself to take comfort in Him and His presence. All of this came at once, and I just wept. Then I laughed. Out of nowhere, driving by myself, with tears streaming, I laughed so hard. I felt joy and peace in my heart knowing I’m okay. As I’m continuing to fight battles in my personal life, I’m comforted allowing myself to lean on Christ again.
I still have questions, and I am not a perfect Christian, but it’s time for me to build that relationship again. I need that faith and it will be what I cling to now. God never ran from me. I ran from God. And now, I’m running right back.
I’ve been thinking a lot about deep hurts lately. The kind that cut deep into one’s soul and make one’s heart bleed for a long time. These hurts…these hurts that steal one’s breath, these hurts that cause body shaking, soul quaking sobbing crying…these hurts, I’m familiar with.
Today, I told someone about a memory of my oldest and youngest child together. It is probably my only clear and specific memory of these two children together since my youngest’s life was stolen from us way too early. The memory is a fond one, but after I mentioned it, I felt a familiar and yet horrible pain that I wish my heart had never known. The pain of grief…the kind of grief that you could never know unless you are a parent that has held your dead child.
It doesn’t matter how long has passed, there will forever be moments where intense grief sneaks up and squeezes my heart so hard it feels like I won’t be able to catch my breath again. Now, admittedly, these moments are rare now (thank God), but they happen at random and will happen forever. I can talk about my daughter without crying, and I do this frequently, but there are just those times where it is painful again like back at the beginning when she was first gone.
I’m certain that today’s pain was a byproduct of other intense hurts I’ve been feeling lately. It’s like having a fresh scab that gets bumped. While that bump wasn’t much, the wound is fresh, so it bleeds easily. That is my heart these days. I can only handle so much before I’m bleeding all over the place, and lately, baby, I’m bleeding.
I get told frequently in life that I am strong, and this is true. I continue to wake up each day with a smile and fresh hope, but it doesn’t make what I endure any easier. In fact, I don’t even know anymore that this is necessarily a good thing. It just is what it is. I personally don’t feel like it’s anything that I have a choice in—it’s just who I am.
So lately, while so much is searing my heart, while I continue to wake each day filled with hope, while each day something hurts deeply and I smile anyway, please know that doesn’t mean any of it is easy. I’m human and I hurt. Like so many others out there, I’m just trying to get through life. I’m trying to not just survive, but thrive. I have no choice but to believe that while there is so much that hurts today, there can be so much that feels amazing tomorrow. It is in this hope that I find healing. A healing that lets me keep going. So in the midst of pain tonight, I smile knowing that once again, I will be up in the morning with the world’s biggest hopes, and maybe, just maybe, tomorrow the hurts will be healed.
As I sit here at home on this snowy afternoon, thinking once again about being let down by others, half wanting to purge my heart and half wanting to say nothing at all, I decide to at least try. “Just type,” I tell myself…and so I do.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about dating and relationships and love. It is something that my heart and soul craves deeply. I’ve always known that I’m a lover and so it just feels…unnatural to be alone. It’s lonely. It’s painful. It’s sad.
I had this immediate impatience once I felt ready to date again where I felt that because I’m ready *poof* there should be a man that I meet and we would want to explore a future together. Well, guess what? That’s not how it’s worked.
I’m a self-professed serial dater. Since I was probably 13 or 14, I’ve had a boyfriend (or husband) pretty consistently. I’ve moved on quickly after each breakup, distracting myself from any pain with the excitement of a new boy. As I’ve gotten older, this has changed a bit, especially after my last relationship ended. I’ve spent more time single in the last year and a half than I ever have in my entire life combined.
The thing is, people DO indeed change. I know this because I’ve changed. I’ve changed A LOT over my lifetime. I’ve done much reflection in my dating choices lately and how much I’ve changed. I’ve recently had a handful of people I was previously romantically interested in pop back up. With each person, for various reasons, I am surprised at my own previous interest because of how much I can see how those people are not good choices for me. You know what this personal growth and change means? It means I’m a lot more picky, a lot more aware, and a lot more conscious in my choices.
Back to my recent impatience though… I spent months in pain, knowing I wasn’t a good candidate for someone else to date, and healing. Where I’d previously moved on emotionally rather quickly from each breakup before my most recent, I didn’t this time. I hurt deeply. I took time to feel the pain, to grieve, to process, and to piece myself back together. So once I knew I could look anyone in the eye and honestly say that I was good again, I had a natural desire to be with someone again. The thing is, that’s apparently just not in the cards for me right now.
I’ve gotten my hopes up a few times, and each time, my hopes came crashing down around me. It’s been quite the journey already, and honestly, I’m done. My newest revelation is this; I need to not be looking. I can’t find a life partner just from sheer will in wanting one. I can’t make someone else feel for me, respect me, and desire me just because I have feelings, respect, and desire for them. The only thing I’m doing by trying to seek out a partner is hurting my own heart again. With all that I have going on in life, I can’t keep putting myself through that pain. So, I wait. That is my plan. I will parent my three children, work my two jobs, and live this one crazy busy life until someone else comes bursting in. I will be patient. I will wait. My heart needs this, my children need this, and my own peace of mind needs this.
Someday, there’s going to be a man that will look at me and wonder how any other man ever dared to pass me up. He will see and adore my great qualities and love me despite my flaws. And he will come along without me having to do any searching at all. It is in this faith that I stop seeking and start truly living and being happy again just taking care of me and mine. I believe with all that I am that this is how it’s meant to be. Finally getting to this point though, that is the first of what I believe is many blessings to come.
Stay tuned, my friends. I can promise you that this is not the end of my love story. But while I am waiting, I can also promise that I’ll keep writing, keep sharing my heart, and keep being real. It’s all I know how to do.
I love you all.