It is easy to pretend that everything in my life is going swimmingly. When friends ask how we are doing, it just seems easiest to say “fine, great, we are all doing swell around here, no problems.” I am not sure if I just do not want to burden others with my complaining that might come off as shallow tales of woe or if I feel like I need to maintain a facade of perfection.
And while I love reading blogs, sometimes I feel like something must be wrong with me, with us, since these women never seem to have any problems. Their houses are put together so beautifully, they never disagree with their husbands, and it seems like their babies never cry.
Really? Am I the only one who wears the same sweatpants for a couple of days in a row? Am I the only one with dog hair on the floors? Am I the only one who disagrees with her husband? And for goodness sakes, am I the only one who has a baby who cries?
Normalizing my life is the number one reason why I love reading blogs and connecting with others. Realizing that other people with young children also find that their houses are overrun with baby paraphernalia and disagree with their spouses on how to spend an extra $100 puts my life into perspective.
So it is discouraging when I read endless blog posts about how much women love nursing (Really, you always love nursing? Not me.), their babies have slept through the night since the day they brought them home from the hospital (Umm…you have got to be kidding me), and the mommy and daddy split the parenting duties 50-50 and then they all sing kumbaya and remark on how awesome they are at parenting (Okay, now you are just lying).
Similarly, with friends, it seems no one wants to admit that they struggle in any way. That they just have everything together and never face feelings of insecurity, never worry, never face any dilemmas.
Why? Why do we do this? So others can think we lead a glamorous problem-free life?
Not only is that boring (Please, hearing about your perfect life leaves much to be desired. Tell me something interesting!), but then we never get the help we need or learn from other people’s struggles.
I stopped trying to hide my struggles and pass off my life as always sunny after I had Kate. I realized right quick that I needed help – for Kate’s sake – and I needed to speak up. So I never glossed over how I was feeling at her doctor appointments, telling my pediatrician my worries, concerns. Calling my mom just so she could tell me I was doing a great job. And attending a breastfeeding support group so I can share frustrations and help other moms.
So here is the best part about owning up to how you really feel — people love to help. People want to know how you really feel because chances are, they feel the same way. And they want to hear you out, help you, provide direction, or just be a sympathetic ear. And if someone would rather pass judgement on you, well, then I would rethink the relationship.
In the spirit of leading an authentic life, here are some truths:
-I am so ready to be done with nursing. For serious. It is so tiring. And I long to eat and drink whatever I want without worrying about how much could end up in my breastmilk. Plus, I am hoping and praying that my current chest size is only temporary.
-Why do bathrooms get so dirty? I am really tired of cleaning bathrooms. It is such a pain.
-Equally, floors are hard to keep clean. Want to know what I do when Kate spits up all over the floor? I call Belle over to lick it up. Whatever, I am doing the best I can.
-Kate does not really like to be held by anyone but me. This is frustrating because then I cannot “hand her off” to others because I cannot stand to hear the wailing. Dan and I are crossing our fingers that she will grow out of this stage. Our friends with older babies swear this will change at six months. Well, all I can say is, if they are wrong, I am coming after them.
-Clothes just do not fit the same post-baby (see chest size above). They just don’t. It seems like my organs have shifted around. And it takes hard work and dedication to get your body to go back to it was, pre-baby. This is why I hit the gym every morning at 6 a.m. No, the weight did not magically disappear. I am not that lucky.
-I always wonder if Dan and I are doing “the right thing” when it comes to raising Kate. And I am sure we will always wonder. Parenting seems like one-part guess and one-part do the best you can. All we can do is ask for advice, do some reading, and then decide what we think is best.
-Being married gets harder after having a baby. Everything becomes about the baby. I think 95 percent of the conversations between Dan and I center around Kate. We need to take time for just the two of us. This is hard to do. And it is normal to feel this way. We disagree, we put each other last, and on any given day, one person may do 90 percent of our life work while the other does 10 percent. This is also normal. And we just keep trying to talk it out, work our way through each issue as it arises.
We do not have all the answers over here. Far from it. And we are okay with that. But it helps to know that others feel the same way, that life can get you down, and it is okay to struggle. Because that’s why we are all here for each other, is it not?