We apologize for our kids (They’re really tired today!) but we know that this is our kids every day.
We might wear pajamas to a playdate. We certainly don’t wear makeup, unless we feel like it or it’s leftover from yesterday.
We call late at night, the middle of the day, or the wee hours of the morning to ask the real questions, the scary questions—
Does your kid do this?
Is she normal?
Am I normal?
Does it get better?
Over a glass of coffee (or perhaps wine), we make confessions—
I don’t always like my life.
I am really messing this up.
I don’t like my kids today.
I think I need help.
Outside of this safe space, we watch the larger community of motherhood in the public sphere with their great hair and their perfect post-baby bodies. We hear them on blogs and Facebook: I love being a Mom! I taught my baby to read! I finished potty-training in two days! I homeschool and support our family by working from home and we never wear pajamas after 8am!
There are a lot of I’s in this community, but the We’s are few and far between. (Is that community at all?)
This community is filled with comparison, with judgment. With standards. Where we might be filled with secret doubts, shared in hushed conversations, they are sure of themselves and their ways, enough to prescribe them to others. To us. When we hear them, we fear that we are Doing It All Wrong. We definitely can’t wear pajamas to this playdate.
When I stop and think about it, I wonder if each of those women being so bold in the public space has a secret community of We. A community where they make confessions and let it all hang out. Maybe they’re afraid to lose their spot in that sphere if they confess it out loud. Maybe we are all a little too ready to throw out the you’s— You’re doing it wrong. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re all alone in your fear and your struggle.
Confessions are often best left in a small, safe space and yet I wonder if there is a way to take the you’s and I’s out of the larger community and have more WE. Despite our differences in education, childbirth, feeding, discipline, or day-to-day care. There is room at the table, I believe, for all. Yet instead of making room and enjoying a diverse feast, learning and listening over the clinking together of plates and glasses, we elbow each other out. A dinner party isn’t a party when there is only one left at the table.
Let me be the first to confess it here, in the greater sphere: I’m not sure what you think about me, but I don’t have it all together. I think I have less than half of it together, actually. I don’t always like being a mom. Some days I want to quit my parenting job, or at least go part time. My kitchen is often a mess and the menu many times comes straight from a box. My pajamas wear through faster than my jeans. I often cringe at the sound of my tone when talking to my kids or my husband. I want to be better than I am. I screw up daily.
Anything I write about on my blog, Facebook, or Twitter? I usually learned the hard way, or am still learning—one mistake at a time.
I won’t ask you for your confessions, though they are welcome here whether you are a mom or not. But I wonder what things would look like if we all started acting and talking like we really believed we aren’t perfect. If we listened to people who were different. If we just kept adding chairs to a very long table with enough room for us all. Maybe small conversations would break out between just a few people. But we would all still be at the table.
We would be so beautiful, together in our imperfections.
This week in Not So (Small) Stories the topic is community! We are learning (I hope) to hone the craft of writing in the context of a blog, how to share stories as we share recipes or moments from our day. Come read or join in!