I’m going to introduce you to my best frenemy. (That’s friend/enemy, in case you didn’t grow up watching Disney Channel.) This woman has a million fans and followers on social media, but I know her all too well. Her makeup is flawless, like she gets to spend hours on it each day. Her clothes are always in style, and sit just right. She carries Starbucks in one hand and an iPhone in the other. She takes selfies that look like magazine ads. She has a designer bag on her shoulder and shopping bags on her arm. All while pushing a stroller carrying her impeccably-dressed, happy little toddler.
Okay, I’m being a little over-the-top. But open up Pinterest – and there she is. Scroll through your Instagram feed – you’ll find her. It’s the mom who has it all together. Her pictures have the perfect filter so her life looks sunny and bright. While I on the other hand am staring down at her on my phone with my messy hair, baggy eyes, yoga pants, and lack of a shower. I’m sitting in my unmade bed, willing my newborn to sleep for a few more minutes and dreading cleaning up the lunchtime mess.
Truly, I want to be her. I crave it. I want all the moms I know to admire me and wonder how I do it all. I want to be the one who leaves the house with a cute outfit, decent hair, makeup, jewelry, and brushed teeth. I want to invite people over to my immaculate house with the perfect decor. I want my kids to wear the sweetest clothes, and be on the best behavior. I want to always be on time, and well-rested or at least caffeinated. I want to take it slow and always have a smile on my face, because life is so peachy. I want to do it all, be it all, have it all.
I also can’t stand her. Because when I try to do all of these things, I inevitably don’t do them right. The clothes don’t look on me the way they do on her. My concealer is doing little to conceal. My house looks like a Pinterest fail. Or the moment I start to feel like I really do have it all together, something goes wrong, and I snap. I forget a snack, and my toddler throws a fit. My hair falls out and I look like a wreck. We are half an hour late getting where we need to go.
And then I look at those pictures of her and I realize it. The has-it-all-together mom is a myth, guys. She does not exist – and even the women in these pictures will admit it. Behind every toothy grin and perfectly executed messy bun is a mom who is struggling to keep it all together. A mom who is juggling diapers and sippy cups like everyone else. A mom who has lost a baby or is having trouble getting pregnant again. A mom who has a stomach bug, and is cleaning up everyone else’s vomit, too. A mom who has a depth of problems that you can’t see on the surface. For every stylish shot she is able to share, there are also about a week’s worth of days in stretched-out leggings and tee shirts.
The solution to the stress of trying to look perfect and always falling short? Take a deep breath, and say it with me: we can stop faking it. We don’t have to try to be perfect, because you’re not, and I’m not. Together, we can laugh off the imperfections, and cry away the problems. We can admit that our kid’s lunch isn’t organic, and we can’t remember the last time the floor was clean. We can honestly say we yelled too much yesterday and we’re starting over today. We can really and truly connect with other women, because we are all of us moms just trying to figure it out.
So don’t be deceived or discouraged by that social media mom, my friend. Share your story and your struggle, too, because we all fall short. Welcome to the club; we have jackets. Jackets that happen to be covered in spit-up and mucus.