I remember a time in my mid-twenties. I was working at a big city magazine. I sort of thought I was a big deal, an aspiring writer who landed her dream job. Despite the fact I was actually an overeducated, glorified secretary barely making minimum wage. It was the 1990’s, I imagine I was wearing an Ann Taylor suit with manicured nails. I ran into the drugstore for I don’t know what. I saw a woman wearing pajama pants lugging three screaming, snotty children. I remember looking at her with such pity and thinking that would never be me.
Fast forward 10 years and I am no longer living in the city or working for that big city magazine. Instead I am vigilantly combing lice out of my 5-year old’s hair. My 3-year old starts itching her scalp. I finish breast feeding the baby and throw all three of them in the car. As I drag them through the store aisle I feel someone staring at me.
I look down and realize I never finished buttoning up my stained, breast-feeding shirt. My stretched-out belly is hanging out. I am a hot mess. I had become the pajama pants lady. Karma really is a bitch.
Those same little girls who once clung to me are now all teenagers. I wish lice was my biggest problem.
Being a Mom is hard and exhausting. Is it just me? Everyone looks so perfect and happy on Facebook. “Happy Birthday to my wonderful daughter who made me a Mom.” What I would like to write is “Happy Birthday to the brat who keeps taking my makeup.”
I have a friend who I thought was pretty close to perfect. She packed non-processed snacks for school. She made cauliflower rice. She used Pinterest for birthday party ideas. Her hair always looked good. She ran three miles every morning at 5:30am. When I would go to her house the floors were mopped and her kitchen was immaculate. I hate to admit it, but I felt bad about myself when I was around her. What was I doing wrong? Why was my floor covered in muddy paw prints? Why did I still have salad dressing from 2012 in my refrigerator? Why couldn’t I get my act together? So, I asked her. What was her secret, I needed to know! I needed her help! She started to cry. She was surprised when I admitted being around her made me feel inadequate. She told me how miserable she was and the pressure she felt trying to be perfect. How she was drowning trying to manage everything. How she had no patience for her kids. How she was resentful towards her husband and was anxious all the time.
Her vision of a good mom and wife meant having homemade snacks, gourmet dinners, ironed shirts and driving to extracurricular activities all night. Trying to be perfect was killing her.
I was shocked, I had no idea. She made it all look so easy. Our friendship took on a new level of intimacy. I encouraged her let go of a few things. It wasn’t easy, but when she stopped trying to be perfect she felt so much lighter. To her surprise the kids didn’t notice that their t-shirts weren’t ironed and when she brought home a take-out pizza for dinner everyone was happy including her husband.
As women, moms, wives we are all dealing with the pressures of measuring up. We need to give ourselves a break.
I am trying to be the woman who is confident enough to wear pajama pants to the store and have muddy floors. It is a crazy, messy life but it is mine.