Last Wednesday I started a new workout routine that involves taking my twins to the gym daycare each day. It has been a difficult experience for all of us because transition and change are hard even when they’re good, and these two have been home with me since they were born. Needless to say, they weren’t fans of being left alone with strangers and I felt like a terrible human for knowing they were crying and choosing to work out. I’ve only been a mom for 22 months now, but it’s been long enough to confirm that you can know your child’s perceived pain or discomfort is crippling even when it’s temporary.
I can “it gets easier” or “But, in the long run…” as many times as I want, but in the moment the anxiety that I’m ruining my children’s lives is the most real fear in my life. Yes, a healthy mom is a happy mom. Yes, my children socializing a bit each day is also really great, but none of that matters when I see their tear-covered faces or hear their cries. I still feel like a terrible human. Couple that with the embarrassing fact that I genuinely have zero clues if I’m doing anything right for myself or my family, and you can see that my brain is a highway congested with a lot of really negative beliefs about who I am and how I’m performing.
Mom guilt grade:
A+ in understanding and application.
Yet, the moms I came into contact with – who probably also think they’re failing more often than not – cheered me through a really difficult week, and I don’t think we give each other enough thanks for also mothering mommas when they’re struggling.
Thank you gym mommas. You reminded me it will get better. Every time you saw the fear or stress from me or my twins, you gently offered words of encouragement or lent your hand. You reminded me you’d been there and I wasn’t alone, and you didn’t stare at me or us like we didn’t belong. Your kindness each day kept me going back, because the hard things felt less difficult when supported and understood.
Thank you mom friends with kids older than mine. Even when I was not a mom and did not understand what you were going through, you still kept me around. You pioneered and I learned about parenting styles (before eventually deciding to wing it) and, when I text you because I don’t know what I’m doing, you don’t mock me or make me feel like my concerns are insignificant, even if they might be. You give only the advice I seek and offer encouragement and empathy. I’m lucky you have been through this.
Thank you in-the-trenches mom friends. Girls, you are just as much in the muck with me and you’re still here to remind me I’m normal or it’s okay to feel a certain way. You don’t flinch when I try to take my twins to the petting zoo with you and your kiddos. Instead, you snap the picture of me holding them both, right before I threw in the towel, to remind me I am doing alright and – honestly – being able to hold two two-year-olds is next level strength. You’re my eyes when I turn to chase one and my strength when I’m tired or overwhelmed. Thank you for seeing me.
Thank you stranger mommas. You might be the greatest gift I didn’t know I needed, because taking my circus into public is scary, and when you give me that smile or tell me what I’m doing is impressive it makes me feel like I might just be having the greatest day ever. Thank you for taking thirty seconds out of your day to give another mom a reason to smile. You know better than anyone we’re all trying our best to make it through each day feeling like we did a decent job, and you went above and beyond your mom duties to praise someone you don’t even know. This world would be a lot better if it were more full of hype-man moms.
This week has been tough, but it has shown me a lot about myself and what I need in order to show up in this world as the best parent I can be. Mostly, I feel called to pay it forward with random acts of service for those with full hands and tired hearts, and for those who might just need someone to say, “Hey, I see you. You’re killing it, mom.”
I know this post has been done before, and it’ll get done again, but you know what? I think that’s awesome. Moms don’t get nearly the amount of praise they deserve, and I like the idea that I’m a small part of the trend in positivity.
We all deserve it.