Have you ever looked in the mirror…and honestly despised the face staring back at you…?
Or am I the only one??
I can’t remember exactly when it started… Perhaps it was in eighth grade when I experienced for the first time how far girl drama could really go. Or maybe it was in tenth grade when I experienced my first significant, noticeable weight gain. Then again, it’s possible that it wasn’t until eleventh grade when my dad used the word “chubby” while attempting to express concern for my health. It could have been graduating from high school without ever having been asked out on a single date, having my first real relationship interest walk away without any explanation in college, or realizing way too late that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.
I suppose it makes the most sense that it was the building up of the insecurities that resulted from all of these situations, and the many more like them, that led to my first conscious memory of one of these moments… And it’s those same insecurities that have followed me into every amazing new adventure my life has ushered me into: including my motherhood.
The root of the problem is the trap of comparison that I find myself stuck in far more often than I want to admit. I mean, the comparisons used to be fairly easy to get past because they used to be about superficial things that didn’t really affect my identity. There’s something about my identity as a mom, though, that makes it extremely easy for me to look at other moms and immediately place myself in a class of motherhood below them. Especially after really hard days with my little.
Having an independent, strong willed, intelligent child is exciting and fun, but also frustrating and defeating. The past couple of days have been the latter. My babe has been stuck in a season of waking up multiple times a night and then fighting sleep at nap time; which is leaving us both more tired and ornery than usual. Add to that dynamic a husband that hasn’t been sleeping due to pain from an allergic reaction to a prescription…and I’m not just tired, I’m exhausted.
For those of you that aren’t parents yet: I pray that you are stronger than me if you find yourself exhausted and frustrated dealing with a strong-willed toddler that somehow manages to find and push every single button that shoots a dart directly into your nerve center and ignites an irrationally angry response. My mom was a screamer whenever she was exhausted and frustrated dealing with my siblings and I…and in spite of everything, I have responded to my Bella in the very same way that caused rifts in my relationship with my mom until well into my adulthood.
After fighting with my babe for two and a half hours today…losing my temper twice to the point of reducing my beautiful blessing to tears…she finally fell asleep and I was left to berate myself for the way I had treated her in those moments of weakness. That is not the mother I want to be. That’s not the kind of mom that I dreamt I’d be; the kind of momma I prayed that God would make me. And it only took a matter of seconds for the face of every momma I know to run through my mind and Satan to whisper to my heart: “None of them would ever treat their babies that way. What kind of mother treats their baby that way?”
That’s when I saw my face in the mirror… The worst mom I know.
I felt so defeated that I even admitted to a close friend that I had lost my stuff on my baby girl and was having an “I’m a horrible momma” day. I was trapped in a cycle of false comparison, allowing myself to be convinced that I was alone in my weakness, and despising the woman looking back at me from the glass. I was feeling like a major #momfail. Yet, rather than receiving judgement, God sent me redemption in the form of my friends freedom to share with me in that moment that she experiences the same exhausted, frustrated moments of weakness in her motherhood as I do in mine.
That’s when it hit me.
I am not the only one.
Other mommas may not have the same mirror moment as I do, but they do experience similar moments of weakness when they get to the end of themselves; when they’re exhausted and frustrated and need a break that’s nowhere in sight. What I realized today is this- our willingness as mommas to share our weaker moments just as much as we share our successful ones offers redemptive freedom to the mommas around us that just might be stuck in a moment that has them struggling to love their motherhood. How I pray that more mothers would feel free enough and be brave enough to share the bad with the good so that it might strengthen the moms around them.
I am thanking God today for blessing me with a friend that feels free enough in her own motherhood to speak honestly into mine. I am also thankful that I have an intelligent little girl that understands forgiveness and offers it unprompted and with a bear hug around the neck. I may have taken her shopping as a means of doing some relationship repair… She may have gotten some sparkly Minnie Mouse shoes… But at the end of the day: My deepest prayer is that we moms figure out a way abolish “mom guilt” and the normalcy of the “#momfail” before our babies have babies.
May we love each other enough to free each others motherhood from comparison traps and loneliness by honestly sharing the good with the bad in our own journey to being amazing moms.