I’m almost writing this post as a vent, but it’s not really something I’m upset about — just thinking about. It all sort of stems from when I dropped off our daughter at daycare today and also that, before we left the house my husband, who had gotten her ready realized “oh, shoot, I think they wanted them to wear green today.” Who knew…
“Why?” I asked, as I was gathering up the daughter, the bottles, my work bag, cell phone all while putting my shoes on (#workingmomproblems).
“Oh, it’s Earth Day, I think.”
We simply didn’t have time this morning to change her clothes into something green. She had coughed up phlegm twice already and I’d changed my clothes once, and we were running late. So, the cute little top her dad had put in her was going to have to suffice. After all, she looked more stylish than me at this point — the clothes I quickly changed into barely matched and I left the house feeling very “unpolished”. Such is my life these days, with a 16 month old. (#nomysocksdontmatch). Sigh.
I felt fine about this. Well, I felt frumpy, but I also felt fine with her not being in green.
I noticed on the board at the daycare that this week was Spirit Week (for what end-game, I know not) and I made a mental note that Wednesday was crazy hair day (Charlotte has almost no hair still, but it’s always crazy) and Friday was crazy outfit day. The hair we could do and I could probably pull together a crazy outfit. Not that she, or any of the other toddlers in her room will even notice. Ok, I can do that. I still was feeling fine with the absence of green in my daughter’s outfit for the day. I wasn’t putting too much stock in this whole toddler Spirit Week experience. We got there, didn’t we? That’s a success in my book.
I was feeling fine until I walked back out to my car and noticed another mom getting out of her car. She was looking VERY polished. Her hair was pristine, she had on a cute matching outfit and adorable shoes (I had a pair of shoes break this week…so I’m sensitive to shoes). My frumpy-feeling grew. So, too, did my guilt and angst about the “green” day when I noticed that she had with her two adorable children, both perfectly dressed – in green. Her infant daughter had a green bow in her hair and matching green leggings. Her preppy little son had an adorable and preppy little green polo with a long-sleeve white shirt underneath, the perfect preppy four year old.
I suddenly felt, not-so-fine.
Here’s the thing. I think this is where the guilt/mom-shaming/”I’m not enough” stems from. It’s things like this. Why have a spirit week for toddlers? They ALWAYS have spirit. They are always excited about things. It doesn’t matter to them if everyone wears green. BUT it does matter to me that I am not together enough to put my kid into something green. I’ve spent the morning feeling guilty that my kid isn’t wearing green today. And, that guilt also makes me feel more frumpy and even less together.
Then an interesting thing happened. I had a conversation with two other moms, about their kids and their morning and their questions. For one of the moms, I had no advice. All I could do – and did do – was listen and understand that I too, would be in a space of craziness like hers some morning in the near future. For the other mom, I did have advice based on having gone through some things she was up against in the not-to-distant past. I realized once again, through these two conversations – that we are all in this together. That totally put-together mom was having a great morning. I was not. I should be high-fiving HER instead of feeling badly about myself.
I realized that there will be days for me – and for all moms – where we feel like we’ve got it all together. There will likely be more days where we feel, like I did today, the exact opposite – frumpy, unpolished, not-at-all-put-together. Some of this comes with the territory, for me at least, of working full-time outside of our home. I love that I am able to be a mom and have a career, but I have to cut myself some slack and realize it adds a little more to my plate. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 69.9% of mothers, with children under the age of 18, were working outside the home in 2013. I’m one of those and I’m pretty proud that, on most days, I get myself (fully dressed and with matching socks) out of the door, with all the things needed for my day, and get the kiddo off to daycare and myself to work – on time. I can’t imagine that all of these women feel like they have it all together, each and every day. I can’t imagine why: Sleepless nights. Sick children. Laundry. Dishes. AND, all the fun stuff too: Swim lessons, play dates, music class, walks to the park, play time.
We have a lot to do. We can’t be all together all of the time. We can fake it sometimes. I think I have to fake it more often — it’s also easy to throw my hands up in despair and say “I have a toddler” as if that declaration makes it OK to stay in my pajama pants all weekend, not brush my hair and eat pizza for three meals a day. It doesn’t. But it also doesn’t mean that I have to take on some weird shame (#downwithmomshaming) for the days, hours, weeks and minutes when I do not have it all together.
For now I will relish the days I don’t feel frumpy and have it all together and I will silently celebrate the moms around me I see on their own victorious days.
And, tomorrow? Tomorrow, my kid will have crazy hair. Lucky for me, that’s a daily occurrence.