to moms

perhaps it is the wet weather that is to blame.  each of us, a tiny walking mountain of wool or cashmere, our eyes peeking through the heaped collars of our Fall sweaters, trying to hide from the bone chilling winds.  our bodies lacking of Vitamin D, our hearts longing for those uplifting rays of sunshine that seemed to pull us out of bed and into its glory.

there has been a theme going through the hearts of my moms these past few weeks, and that theme seems to be: feeling like a failure, feeling vulnerable.

we all feel this from time to time, but i think that's what makes us great mothers... strong mothers... mothers who will triumph in the end.  although those dark clouds of uncertainty seem to loom in our minds and hearts without any sign of leaving, my experience has shown that it is from these dark clouds, daunting as they may be, that we find the inner strength to thrust ourselves up, out and forward.  somewhere in the confusion and lack of direction, we somehow manage to light ourselves a path out to the light.  

it's not mother's day, but take this as an UN-Mother's Day post!  every single one of us is different.  there is no comparison.  comparing is a bad habit i've been trying to kick.  comparing is picking things apart and pushing your face up to details that give no room to breathe.  what i keep reminding myself whenever my mind starts going down a comparison path, is to step back.  i can't compare myself to you or you to me or you to another.  really, that's why i love so many of you.  though we may differ on a number of things, it is what i find inspirational in you that keeps me coming back for more.  

we all worry that we are not doing enough.  we all worry about what others are thinking or doing differently.  we shouldn't but we do.  it's ok, it's only natural.  and it's ok to talk about it.  we're not perfect and we're never going to be unless by perfect you mean "HAPPY WITH MYSELF".  

i was watching inspirational speaker  Brené Brown a month ago who spoke about Shame and how "vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage".  this could not be more true.  when we are having these rough times, it is often very difficult to voice our feelings of failure because we feel vulnerable.  as mothers, how many times have we thought to ourselves "Am I the only one that feels this way?... I am such a bad mother."  the funny thing is that those of you who have had the courage to confide your vulnerability in another mom-friend probably experienced the joy of that friend laughing and telling you that they felt EXACTLY the same way.

Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity & change

YES, they couldn't take the crying and had to put their baby down in the crib and cry into their pillow or in a crumpled ball in the shower to drown out the cries.  YES, they had a hell of a time trying to breastfeed and after weeks of trying without success, they had to go the route of formula.  YES, they love their child but sometimes/often fantasize about their life pre-motherhood.  YES, they let their child cry it out or YES, they co-sleep with their child.  YES, they also flipped out and yelled at their child for not eating their dinner for the 10th day in a row.  YES, they are still crying into their pillow or in the shower.  YES, they wish they were stay at home moms.  YES, they sometimes feel resentful that they are not working moms.  YES, they enjoy their time away at work or YES, they wish they could have more time away from their kids.  YES, they wish they were more patient.  YES, the TV/iPAD is an EXCELLENT babysitter.  

really there a billion more things that so many of us can relate to.  but when you read all of these, you can see that all these things have GUILT attached to them.  MOM guilt.  it's huge.  and a big reason why seems to be related to what society seems to expect from today's mom.  again from Brene's talk, she explains that although shame feels the same for both sexes, it is organized differently.  for women, the straightjacket is: 


it's no wonder we all feel so effing crazy!  

she defines the difference between guilt and shame
guilt = i did something bad
shame = i am bad
and continues with: the two most powerful words in our time of struggle is ME TOO.  

i often find myself wandering between the two feelings, feeling ashamed, feeling like i AM bad before slowly rising above to feeling guilty when i realize i know that i am doing my best.  once i move up to feeling guilty, i am then able to forgive and make peace with myself.  hearing that empathic ME TOO makes all the difference in the world.  i am so very grateful for all the moms in my life that have given me the ME TOO shoulder.  

one of the first things i tell newly pregnant moms is to make sure they get out and build a support circle.  

get out to the library time or to the Strong Starts.  get out to the parks and connect with other parents.  it does wonders to feel like you are not alone in your struggles as a parent!  just knowing that there are others going through the same hardships can change your entire mood and up your positive energy levels for the rest of the week!  knowing that your child is not the only one not sleeping through the night after an entire year or that your child isn't the only one with a serious biting problem is a great comfort!  walking into another family's home piled with dishes, clothes, toys in every room and on every table takes the edge off feeling like a "failure".  suddenly, it's like someone has taken the blindfold from our eyes and we realize EVERYONE ELSE IS IN THE SAME SITUATION.  suddenly, that shame and those feeling of failure are lifted and all it took was those two words: ME TOO.  in an instant, we feel like worthy parents!

as a young mom (25-26 with Moses), i was the first in my circles of friends to get pregnant and i struggled on my own for the first 5 months with little support.  i was told there was a Mom & Toddler group just up the street and i NEVER went.  if you don't know the story, baby Ethan was two doors down from baby Moses (2 weeks apart!) in our Vancouver apartment before we both happened to move to the same condo in Tsawwassen.  neither Michelle nor I reached out to one another in those first few months before moving to T-town.  i remember being exhausted, frustrated and mostly ALONE in those first months, and before my best friend at the time cut me from her life when moses was 3 months, i remember her responding to my posts about my struggles with comments like "YOU HAVE A BABY!  YOU SHOULD BE SO HAPPY AND GRATEFUL!  god.  i would not be caught dead saying that to a new mom.  and it was not her fault, she did not know any better, but at the time it made me feel horrible.  DO IT ALL.  DO IT PERFECTLY.  NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT.  i was a new mom, a young mom, and i was going through a lot of post-partum depression.  i felt so awful and so alone.  i couldn't do it all.  it was definitely not perfect.  and i was sweating like a pig in heat.

michelle and i often talk about how those could have been THE BEST months of our lives!  taking turns bumming around on each other's couch, walking up to the mommy time, walking to the parks, walking up to the Thrift Shop, library and grocery shops.  just having someone there that was going through the same challenges!  and man, the communal dinners we could have had....

it was not until i met Saara in Thrifty's in November 2009 that i reached out for the first time and asked someone for their number.  our lives changed when we realized we lived a block's distance from one another.  she invited us to Leila's first birthday the following week and we spent the rest of the cold rainy winter months keeping one another company and sane!  i don't know how i would have lasted that winter without her.  3 years later, with a huge circle of support, i am still running to her house for moments of sanity and she is still welcoming me with open arms, tea and treats.

it is hard to get out there as a new mom if you have no other mom friends.  you are SO vulnerable.  so unsure of yourself.  stuck thinking DO IT ALL.  DO IT PERFECTLY.  NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT.  make the effort to meet one, and the rest will come pouring in.

in the same way it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to support the parents of that child.  reach out to one another.  for all the ME TOO's i have received in the past 3 years, i have been doing my best to extend my own empathy and lift that cloud of shame & vulnerability where possible.


btw feelings super vulnerable about what i have written. blargh.


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