I see the exhaustion behind your smile and hear the burned-out tone in your voice as you try to sound positive about the fact you couldn't make cookies for the classroom or make it to the meeting on time.
I know you feel you should be doing more, and I know you truly want to, but keeping it together for everyone around you at every moment is a huge burden to carry. There are days you want to set it down and walk away for a bit but you can't. There are times you can't possibly take on one more thing and you say no, then try to tell yourself you should do it anyway.
My antenna goes up as soon as I see you walk into the grocery store, the school concert or the birthday party. You are a mirror to me and every other mom.
We honestly didn't see you before starting our own journey through motherhood. But now when we see you, it's a reflection of us. There's something that happens to a mother when she sees another mom who's tired, frustrated or throwing her hands up because she's done holding things together.
There's a feeling of relief that spreads through us. We let out a deep breath and think, I'm so glad it's not just me. I feel normal. I feel validated. I know you feel like I do. I am not alone.
In some way, it helps seeing you in this state while you continue to show up because it makes me feel like I can do it, too, and I don't have to do it perfectly.
Before we were moms, we didn't know what it meant to lay awake in bed each night worrying if we were going to be able to make a dent in our to-do list the next morning. We weren't able to get behind the idea of just how life-changing becoming a mother could be. We didn't feel this kind of guilt or question ourselves at every turn.
We didn't understand why moms talked about how hard parenting was and how they were giving up pieces of themselves in order to make their children happy. But now we get it.
I can assure you that there never been a mom on this earth who hasn't been tired of keeping it together.
Some days it feels like we're drowning and there isn't anything we can get right. You and I see other moms march to the bake sale with a fresh blowout and homemade cookies as we hang our head because we were barely able to get our kids to their doctor's appointment on time. We wonder how they're keeping it together and our own self-doubt creeps in.
I can assure you that there never been a mom on this earth who hasn't been tired of keeping it together. I know for a fact that the woman who appears to have some sort of secret answer to staying on top of all the things still has her moments in the grocery store when she's utterly embarrassed and about to lose her shit in front of 45 strangers.
We've all been her: the mom who's struggling and so afraid if she slows down and doesn't have her game face on every waking second, her world is going to become even more chaotic. She's not sure she can handle that, so she pushes. And then pushes some more.
Keeping it all buttoned up for everyone else's sake is what moms are taught to do. We are told being a mother is a privilege and a sacrifice. We feel the weight when we forget a small thing. Keeping it together is our job and we do it well.
But here's the thing: We don't always have to keep it together. We're allowed to loosen the grip and take the pressure off ourselves. We just need to start believing this and know the world won't end when we do. And, trust me, it won't.
Most of all, we need to see that mom who is so damn tired of holding it together, and let her know we've been there, too.