I read Amy Morrison's Huffington Post "Why You're Never Failing As A Mother" this morning, vigorously nodding my head and quoting it out loud to my husband. Based on the premise that we can't compare ourselves to mothers of other generations Morrison writes:
"Feeling like you also need to keep on top of scrap booking, weight loss, up-cycled onesies, hand prints, crock pot meals, car seat recalls, sleeping patterns, poo consistency, pro-biotic supplements, swimming lessons, electromagnetic fields in your home and television exposure is like trying to knit on a rollercoaster -- it's f*cking hard.
We live in a time when we can Google everything, share ideas and expose our children to amazing opportunities, but anyone that implies that they have it figured out is either drunk or lying (or both), so don't be too hard on yourself."
Amen. Now, I think she oversimplifies the challenges previous generations faced. I'm sure every woman wasn't standing in the middle of a village of sister-wife like relatives, blissfully handing off their baby as they all stirred the stew. (I imagine if I was in that mix I'd be having an existential crisis ala Virginia Woolf inspired "The Hours." Or maybe not.)
But in general, I agree with her points. My parents were raised surrounded by aunts and uncles and cousins. I grew up with a wonderful grandmother who lived with us and helped my parents with the day-to-day work of managing a home. And I'm usually the exception among my friends, as my parents live in town and are a vital part in helping us in the day to day with Nate, while we manage two careers in two different cities.
I know we're lucky. So this isn't a complaint.
It's an extension of the conversation.
Last night when I got home (from a lovely baby shower) I walked through our upstairs, frustrated by the way everything looked. The carpet is dirty and needs to be replaced. There are rooms packed with projects started and abandoned midway -- boxes of photos, half-way framed art, paperwork to be filed -- it goes on. Then there's the stacks of the every day -- the bills to be paid, the laundry to be folded, the check engine light on and the deciphering of emails, Facebook messages and newsletters to figure out what's going on at Nate's school, and how I can help. (That's a whole other post.)
It seems like a lot to tackle when I get home from my job at 7, with an hour to spend time with my child before it's time to get ready for bed. Before I go back to my computer to finish up work.
I know, I know, it's all my choice, and I have priveledges I do not take forgranted. I have a healthy child. An awesome job that allows me to use my talents (a dream for women of prior generations). And don't play the "if I was born at a different time" game (except for the fact that I would have loved one night at Studio 54). I was born at exactly the right time.
But I do feel the pull that Morrison speaks of, and want to share because I know I'm not alone. I agree with her premise: we need to give ourselves a break as parents, heck, as people.
I'm so glad Pinterest didn't exist when I had Nate because I would have felt like even more of a failure than I already felt, trying to figure out how to care for a new human person, which felt remarkably outside my skill set. Things are better now (and he's older) but I have my moments. Like earlier in the week when I was stuck in traffic with minutes to go until the school closed, my backup out of pocket and a nearly empty tank of gas. Furiously punching in the school details on Google Maps to figure out backroads, I felt that flicker of failure again.
But I got him in time. We came home and had dinner. Prepared by my husband, who cooks every night.
Morrison closes with a sentence that includes "you are pioneers that have to machete through the new terrain. Chin up. Hang in there. Remember, you're doing a great job."
Now that's a sentence I want to give at baby showers. One that I want to pin. And one that I'm going to remember next time I have doubt.