I pretend I’m the perfect parent, that I have all my ducks in a row, but I’m so far from it. I project that I have it all together, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I present myself as having everything in order —all of the time—but I’m sorely misrepresenting things. Afterall, I’m a real parent, with real flaws and very common shortcomings with an even bigger dream of keeping it all afloat. But what remains a mystery, is why we feel the need to pretend that everything is simultaneously achievable when we all know damn well that it isn’t. It’s impossible to keep all the plates spinning when those said plates include overseeing our children’s well-being, a career, a household, friendships, our children’s social calendars and rare, but necessary interspersing of some personal care from time to time. It’s simply not feasible to be on top of it all at all times because unless I’ve missed the big announcement, being in more than one place at one time, still isn’t physically possible (although, I’m sure a Mom will invent how to make this happen sometime soon).
What I wish is for all moms to let go of the notion that this is what we should strive to be; something unattainable. Can we learn to rid ourselves of the guilt associated with not feeling worthy unless all our responsibilities are satisfied before we lay our head down at night? Don’t get me wrong, it feels great to check things off the ubiquitous ‘to-do list’ and have a satisfying day of abundant accomplishments, but we shouldn’t define our self-worth by our ability to do so. Giving the dog a bath while on a conference call with dinner in the oven and laundry in the dryer isn’t what makes us ‘good’ parents. In fact, I’d like to argue the opposite, in which doing less is actually much more. So often at night when I read my kids their bedtime books, I’m not focused on the words or their reactions to them, rather, I’m running down my endless mental checklist of things that I still need to do or emails that I need to write or people who need to be called back or lunches that can’t make themselves or dishes I should clean or the impending articles that need to be written. I’m simply.not. present. And the enemy of multi-tasking and its assumed forefront position it’s taken on our lives, is to blame. The only way I see this changing is if us, as a society, to change our perception on what it truly means to be a succeeding parent.
I don’t expect this shift in societal views to happen overnight, if at ever, but that doesn’t mean a positive shift can’t occur within our own individual lives. Let’s start by being real; with ourselves; our friends; our partners. Let’s stop pretending to uphold these impervious lives that don’t really exist. Parenthood is hard. Really hard. So maybe if we can come from a place of honesty, life would feel a lot less of a hurdle and much more of an achievable goal. Perhaps I’ll put that on my list of to-do’s.