What do you think of when you hear the word “motherhood?” What images does it conjure up? A quick check of Google images will pull up dozens of beautifully airbrushed pictures representing the concept of motherhood in our society. But do those heavily edited photographs really represent the word “motherhood”?
In today’s social media-saturated culture, it feels like motherhood has evolved into some sort of art form. Everywhere I look these days I am confronted with images of unattainable perfection. Elaborate birthday parties, thrown by ever-cheerful mothers for their perfect little children.
Dashingly handsome husbands sitting down to a gourmet meal in a spotless, expertly decorated home. Images like this one, where everybody is happy and smiling, and things look perfect.
We now have entire websites designed just to help you keep track of every meal, decorating project, toddler craft, and the gardening project you aspire to complete. I don’t know about you, but my Pinterest board is full of projects I will never get around to, vacations I will never take, furnishings that I cannot afford, and books I do not have the time to read. It’s depressing. And it’s not just Pinterest.
I can’t tell you how many times I have read a mommy blog, magazine article, or even a Facebook status, and come away feeling defeated.
The Real Motherhood Journey.
I’ve recently realized something though. Perfect is just a mirage. Perfect is not normal. Perfect is not real. Would you like to know what is real?
This is my family. This is real, a lot more real than the first picture I posted. The reality is, most days I’m in my jammies until noon because I shower when the baby takes a nap. I can spend all afternoon cleaning, only to have my three little tornadoes undo it in a flash.
Just today, while I was brainstorming with Hector for this blog post, my cloth diaper sprayer failed, flooded my house, and destroyed a good amount of flooring. While I was cleaning it up, that cute little bookshelf climbing baby stripped naked, mauled every apple in the fruit bowl, then threw a shoe in the dirty toilet.
I plunked him in the bathtub to clean off, where he promptly pooped. This is my reality, this is what Motherhood looks like for me, and I am slowly realizing that my reality is a lot more normal than I thought. Motherhood is not perfection. Motherhood is not a hobby that you follow on Pinterest. Motherhood is a calling.
Motherhood is laughing at spilled milk. Wait, let’s be honest. Sometimes motherhood is yelling, and then apologizing, about that spilled milk. Motherhood is midnight feedings, sore nipples, and 5 am wake up calls from energetic children.
It is kissing scraped knees, soothing wounded spirits, and cleaning up vomit for the tenth time that day. Motherhood is powering through tough times because you know that any minute you’re going to have one of those glorious moments that make it all worth it. That first smile, after weeks of sleepless nights.
Watching your kids’ eyes light up when you choose to ignore the chaos and sit down to read them a story. Those are the precious moments we all live for.
Do you know what else Motherhood is? It is a season. And like all seasons, it is brief. As mothers, we need to savor every moment, both the easy and the hard. Someday, we will look back on those hard times an laugh. Or at least not grimace. When I grow old, I don’t think that I wish I had baked more bread or folded more laundry.
I think I will look back and shake my head and wish I had spent less time participating in this “mompetition” and more time living in the moment, cherishing the brief seasons of motherhood and all of the challenges that come with them. We need to stop this expectation of perfection and embrace the imperfection that is real life. Our families don’t want perfect. They want Mom.
They want YOU!
Here at Project: Breastfeeding you will hear us talk a lot about normalizing breastfeeding. But in celebration of Mother’s Day, let’s take it a step further. Let’s normalize normal! Normal, awesome moms have fingerprints on their windows, laundry on their couch, and sometimes feed their kids pizza for dinner three times in one week.
Normal moms aren’t perfect, and that’s OK! So do us a favor Mom. Pat yourself on the back. Realize that you’ve got this. You are awesome. You’re a MOM.
Hector Cruz is the Founder of the global campaign “Project: BreastFeeding”. He is passionate about helping to educate men of the importance of their roles in breastfeeding support. He is married and has a beautiful daughter and two dogs.