I’m guessing we’ve each had moments behind the closed doors of our homes when we wonder if our experience of motherhood resembles anyone else’s on the planet. On one hand, we know that women have been raising children since the beginning of time and surely someone has walked in our shoes. But on the other hand, there are so many things that are completely unique to us and our family, and it can leave us feeling alone.
When I became a mom for the first time, I remember feeling like I had entered the secret mom club, like all of the sudden I could see things in a light that only moms could see. All at once I had a brand new appreciation for my own mom, and there were things I never could have understood until having a child of my own. The emotions were intense, and things that never crossed my mind before were now all I could think about.
Being a first time mom is full of all kinds of humbling thoughts and questions. In a way it feels like you’re a freshman in high school again, awkwardly walking with your lunch tray through the cafeteria, trying so hard to act cool and fit in, like you totally know what you’re doing, but in reality you feel like such a rookie as you fumble to figure out how to get the car seat in and out of the car or how to keep the baby latched on during the first few attempts at breastfeeding. Your friends who don’t have kids yet come to visit and overnight you feel like you’ve drifted lightyears apart. You accept their warm hugs and congratulations, but can’t help but think about the fact that they have not a clue what you’re going through. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the reality. You have experienced something they haven’t. Perhaps this is the first time you feel like “no one gets it.”
Time goes on and your life continues to go down its own path. You realize with each passing day that every person around you has a very different story. It’s not as simple as everyone going to college, getting married, and starting their own families. Age no longer dictates what stage of life you’re in. Some friends are single, some are dating, some married, some in school, and some are with you in the parenthood club.
Even then though, it’s not accurate to make an overgeneralization and categorize every person who has kids by throwing them into the same basket. There are just so many factors that make each of our journeys in parenthood unlike anyone else’s.
Some of us have our kids spaced several years apart. Others of us have baby making factories that never seems to stop. Yet others of us have struggled with infertility and want so badly to add to our families. Some of us are stay-at-home moms, others of us work. Some of us are married, some single. Some in blended families. Some of us have plenty of money, others of us are struggling to make ends meet. Some of us keep our kids on a schedule, others of us prefer a go with the flow approach. Some of us have family who live close by or help often, others of us are doing most of the work on our own. Some of us have strong-willed children, while others of us only need to glance in our kids’ direction for them to respect our authority. Some of us have healthy children, while others of us have spent way too much time at doctors appointments and therapy sessions.
The point is, no matter how you look at it, your story is YOUR STORY and no one else’s. So friend, I get that there are moments when you feel like no one gets it. It’s because they don’t. They might think they know what it’s like to walk in your shoes, but the truth is you are on the only one who knows what life is like behind your closed doors.
I know it can be overwhelming when you feel like your circumstances don’t make it as easy to do things your friends do, or accomplish what they seem to in a day. I know it’s frustrating when you just want someone to understand the work it takes to simply get the breakfast dishes cleaned up, or the sacrifice it takes to attend something that’s past the kids’ bedtime or how funny it was when your two year old sat on the potty and told you, “Mommy, my pee is stuck!” I know what it’s like to feel judged or questioned about the way you choose to do things. I know how it feels when you just want a certain person to “get it” even though you know there’s no way they possibly can.
I want to take a minute and give you credit for doing what you do. I may not see the selfless things you do day in and day out. I may not really know what you’re going through, and I don’t want to pretend to. But I do know that you are working hard, doing all you can do make your story beautiful. I know that you are the only one who knows what works best for your family. I know that you love your kids with all your heart and being their mom is one of your proudest accomplishments. I know you are choosing joy day after day and for that I admire you.
Despite our differences and ever changing circumstances, I want to acknowledge that we’re on the same team.
Let’s take the time to want to understand one another. Let’s take the time to look beyond our situations, and acknowledge someone else’s. Let’s go beyond surface level conversations and ask one another how we’re really doing. Let’s stop pretending we have it all together, acting like we’re super mom, and pursue conversations where we celebrate the real struggles and victories that make life meaningful. Let’s listen to each other’s hearts without thinking we have all the answers. Let’s try to “get it.”
Let’s rejoice when we find others who are walking similar paths, but let’s not leave people out who are in a completely different stage, because they love us the same.
It’s true that each of our stories are different, but that doesn’t mean we have to go it alone.
I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@amberkuiper) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).