Right now, for a few minutes, I’m on the computer when I “should” be playing with my kids.
Apparently, according to all of this sage parenting “wisdom” out there, it’s not okay to ever be on my smartphone when I’m parenting. Which makes sense. My kids need me. But this makes me feel totally alone.
Am I honestly the only mother out there without regular babysitters, or friends, or a village?
If I’m never supposed to be on my phone around my kids, then should I just throw my phone away? Because that leaves about an hour or two in between their bedtime and mine, and I’m sure as hell not going to be on Facebook when I could be finally cozying up to my husband after our long day apart.
There’s a point when all of this parenting advice needs to stop.
Read one article and we’re told that we should always be good listeners, always hold our tempers, always show love with our spouse in front of our children, and never say certain phrases to our kids (like “you’re driving me crazy”). I’m left wondering, though, with all of these “should’s” and “should not’s,” how are we supposed to be the fallible humans that we inevitably are?
If motherhood is a reminder of my imperfection, then I’m a perfect mother. My inappropriate usage of my cell phone, or my impatience, or the way I occasionally fight with my husband in front of my children are constant seeds of the ugly fruit I grow daily.
I am not ugly—I am just not always beautiful; no one is always beautiful.
Sometimes, my mouth kisses my children, smiles for selfies with my girls, and sometimes it lets the f-word fly at an inopportune time.
I try to be perfect. I always have. It’s why I was perfectly anorexic and an “A” student—until I broke.
When we hold ourselves up to standards that are not obtainable, we by default create the imperfections that we are trying so hard to run from.
I’ll tell myself, for instance, that today will be the day that I don’t have a glass of wine. Every. Single. Night. I tell myself I won’t have a glass of wine, and many nights I have one—especially if I stressed myself out over the self-judgment of not having one—to the reoccurring questioning of my husband. (“Why are you doing this to yourself? Who cares if you have a glass of wine?”)
Perfection should not be our goal in life. Rather, learning and growing and evolving should be the goal. (This isn’t to say that I should have a wine glass superglued to my hand, letting curse words fly as I fight with my husband in front of my kids.)
Regardless, I write parenting-inspired articles for a living. It’s what I do, and it wasn’t intentional. I write about motherhood because that’s my life right now. I write to remind other moms that we’re not alone, and that someone else out there is going through this same thing, even if sometimes we feel so isolated and lonely it’s painful.
Sharing thoughts on how to work through a situation, or how to become better people (let alone mothers) is helpful to the world, but creating a constant newsfeed of fake idyllic “should’s” is not.
I don’t have a village, and I’m reminded of this continually.
I read and write mommy blogs, and so do many other moms I know, because we’re trying to create this “village” that we never had and probably never will.
Just yesterday I told my husband that I “should” be doing more with my kids. I should be letting them color for hours a day, instead of the random 30 minutes we break out when I think of it. I tell my husband that, typically, I’m trying to get through a day.
Of course I’m conscious that this is the only shot at childhood that my kids have, and I’m also more than aware of how special it is. That said, I’m a human being.
Sometimes I have a headache, but I can’t take anything because I’m breastfeeding (and lying down to sleep it off isn’t an option either). Sometimes our kids didn’t sleep well because they’re sick and have runny noses, and now I’m tired and I really have to watch those f-bomb drops. In short, I love being home with my daughters, and I’m fortunate to be a stay-at-home mother, but it’s also a lonely “job.”
My own mom is more than two hours away—my whole extended family is over two hours away—and it’s hard to make friends around kids’ nap times, and activities, and school, and life—and did I tell you I’m tired? I mean, scheduling and keeping regular playdates is almost a job in and of itself.
I don’t have a village made up of a cute little pack of mom-friends who do everything together. (If you do, I hope you appreciate them.) I don’t have family here. I don’t have a village. I have me. My kids have me.
I have to be enough, but I’m not. One human being and my husband home in the evenings and on weekends will never constitute a village—and I have an out-of-the-ordinary, fantastic husband-daddy too.
This means if I want to be a writer, then sometimes my kids are watching a show for a half an hour in the background so I can add another page onto the book I’m writing that will probably take months to finish. It means I text a friend while my daughter is tugging on my sleeve simultaneously. It means, too, that I’m one of those horrendous moms who makes that rare phone call and then says one sentence to the person I called and two to my kids.
And, you know what? I might not have a village, but I’m a damn good mom, and so are you.