Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Getting a New Pair of Glasses

Next week I will turn 32, and I feel like I have been a mother forever at this point. Fourteen years ago, when I turned 18, it would be one week later that I would become a mother. From the time I found out I was pregnant with Alyssa, I never had a doubt that I would keep her, and from that day on I spent most of my time trying to learn how to be an adult. I learned to be strong and that I could make it through anything. Sometimes I feel like I have gone through these last 14 years always trying to be older to compensate for the fact that I was so young. It used to be so hard for me and really hurt my feelings when people would point out how young I looked/was. Once when I was in the mall (only about 4 years ago) this lady thought I was 16, and here I am walking with a couple of kids age 9 &4. Honestly, it kind of made me mad and hurt that this lady had seemed to go out of her way to point out that I must have started young.

When you start out your adult life as a newlywed, pregnant, and already out on your own it is sort of like being thrown into a pool to learn how to swim. Sure you have people telling you what to do, but it is ultimately you that has to swim so that you don't sink. And along the way there is this constant pressure that you should be doing this or that. You should be all things at all times, so that is what you set your goals to. You will work full time to make sure that your kids had what you didn't. You will stay at home with your kids and cook all the time and always be in a state of crafty, mommy bliss. And then came the social networks and the blogs and Pinterest and it is like High School : Mommy Edition. Who took their kids to Sunday School? Who cooked healthy awesome meals all this week? Who has the right political agenda? Who buys cute handmade clothes for their kids? Who had fun activities planned out for every day of Christmas break? Who made the best teacher gift? Who can make a wreath that looks just like that one they pinned? And not that there is anything wrong with these things that we post. The thing that is wrong is how we read them. Oh wow, I sure wish I had the time/energy/money to do that.Why do we do that to ourselves?

It is a learning process, this job of motherhood. You have to allow yourself to be and accept who you are. Being unapologetic about who I am scares the crap out of me and I suspect that hiding (besides my thyroid) it has helped lead to this state of anxiety and depression that I have been in lately. From the time I became an adult, I have been different. I wasn't going to college or getting a job, I was changing diapers. And I was ashamed that I wasn't doing things "the right way". I have always looked young and when people would stare at me as I pushed a stroller, I felt shame. So I tried really hard to be this super awesome, mature and extremely responsible person, so people would think all of those things about me. But now I know that I am different and that is alright. I don't have to pretend to be something that I am not. Some days I get a lot of things done around the house. Some days I get almost nothing done around the house. Some days I do fun awesome things with my kids and some days I just want them to just go play and leave me alone. Some days are really good and some days are really bad and some days are just eh!

This was what we looked like after grocery shopping on Saturday!


So today I am stepping out into the open to say this: There is no right or wrong way to do things. There is no system out there that works for everyone. Some days you are going to be Suzy homemaker and some days will leave you wishing for a convertible and a beach. Okay, a lot of days. So this is what I am trying so hard to do. Let go of any expectations that I have of myself and just try to be my best self every day. What that means is that I wake up and I have things that I know must be done that day. Like sending out the rent check, making sure there is food to eat, or making sure everyone at least has clean underwear! For now I am letting go of the lists and just doing what I can each day. If I get the house clean, or take the kids somewhere fun, do crafts and painting, don't yell at anyone, don't lose my patience, cook an awesome meal, then I had a good day. If I am unable to do anything that day and feel bitter then I have probably let the demons who tell me that I am not good enough in that day. And I need to give myself a break and stop being so tough and trying too hard.

So the pressure is off. No more unrealistic expectations.No more stress about being perfect or looking way too young to have a kid going into high school. Or worrying what people think about the fact that I have four kids. And I am not going to feel guilty about all of the things that I haven't gotten done. I am going to try to feel good about the things that I have done and press on every day and try to be what I can be that day. I hope you will too and by the way I love all of the cute things that we all post on Facebook etc., because we are just excited that we did something cool and share worthy that day. But when you go through your posts instead of envy thinking that this woman must do this cool stuff all of the time, remember that she has really crappy days too. She posted this today because it was a positive thing and it made her feel good about herself and silently congratulate her because we all know how hard being a parent really is.

3 comments:

  1. I love this Leslie! I can relate in pretty much everything you wrote! Everywhere i go peope make a point to say how young i am/look and to make comments about how many children we have (and also check if im even married :/ ) i always feel like people are looking at me thinking "oh, she is one of those ones having a bunch of kids, dumping them off on other people, not married, using the government" even though none of that is true. Thanks for sharing!! I needed the encouragement!

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  2. Believe me, I have been there! And even if you were they still don't know your circumstances AT ALL! My checkcard looks similar to the EBT cards(it has a flag) so I get looks from people at the grocery store all the time! I am always learning to never judge a book by it's cover! I am glad it encouraged you!

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  3. Seriously, why do we pretend being a parent was ever supposed to be easy?

    I LOVE this post, and my heart is completely with you on all of it (except the constantly being told i look too young for kids part - but completely on the "working extra hard to be the amazing person i want people to tell me/notice/think i am").

    this was great stuff, and two posts in, i already love your writing!

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