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I genuinely do wonder how other mothers live their lives and "do it all" with various situations, different amount of kiddos, and diverse strengths and weaknesses. I think it's encouraging to hear the struggles and triumphs of mothers and the common bonds we all share.
But all of that wondering can quickly cross over into the dangerous territory of comparing. If you've ever spent any embarrassingly depressing amounts of time on Instagram wondering why your life sucks so much in comparison to that mom who just gave birth and is somehow lounging in a bikini two day postpartum with a fresh manicure, it's not only a complete waste of time, but it's really damaging as well.
And it's taken me a really long time (like eight years of parenting long), but I'm finally starting to see that there are so many things about motherhood that you really should not care about, like...
If you've ever met a mom, found out how
many kids she has, then contrasted/compared anything about her life to your
own, you know what I'm talking about.
It doesn't matter if you have two and she has 10; you are both different people with different strengths, make-ups, health, backgrounds and abilities. You're no better, no worse, so it's pointless to compare.
Yes, some women pull of the "skinny
pregnant" look and some women pull of gaining weight by drinking air, but
there's all one mutual goal in mind, I swear. (I'm talking about the baby,
guys, if that wasn't clear.)
Side note: my 7-year-old was sitting next to me while I wrote this article and her mouth dropped open when she saw that lovely picture of me above. "Mom!" she exclaimed. "Your belly was huge!" Why yes, yes it was.
Another mother making a different choice (for whatever reason) does not take away from your choice.
It's normal for us to want to validate our own choices by thinking they are "the best"—and they may just be the best for us and our family at that particular time—but that doesn't mean what's best for us may be best for everyone at every time in every situation. Another mother making a different choice (for whatever reason) does not take away from your choice, and that's an important but difficult lesson sometimes.
Maybe the thought of enrolling your baby in day care makes you want to puke with anxiety or maybe the thought of ever staying home to clean mashed carrots out of a higher chair causes you to pull your hair out, but the fact is, the ability to support one another to have a real choice in staying home or working is a beautiful, beautiful thing.
5. How long she breastfeeds
If it's not hurting you, honestly, what does it matter? Cow's milk or breast milk, is there that big of a difference, even if you don't necessarily want to breastfeed a kindergartener or your friend's kid?
6. What you look like after giving birth
Apparently, professional styling after birth is a "thing" now and on one hand, while I certainly believe every mom deserves to do what makes her feel best after the hard work of labor and delivery, can we also believe that birth is beautiful no matter what?
Honestly, it's been 29 years of not being able to do my hair at all, let alone those perfectly coiffed luxurious waves that so many moms seem to rock. It's time to admit that it's just not going to happen for me. #messybunforlife
8. If you don't have a "passion" in life
"Finding your passion" and living a rich, full, creative life are the buzzwords right now, but what if you're at home just hanging with the kids or working a mundane job and watching TV at night with your husband and in general not doing anything super exciting, but you're strangely OK with that? Don't feel guilty for not feeling guilty if you're perfectly content in your life, know what I'm sayin'?
9. Social media fakery
We all know it's fake, we all know it's polished and prepped and edited and glammed up like the highlight reel of our lives, but guess what? It can also just be fun. So take the good parts of SnapChat or Instagram or whatever is your online communication portal of choice and leave the bad out of it.
I've tried to get on board with the smoothie trend, I really have. I know moms are supposed to all be adept at whipping up delicious, fruity smoothies that hide kale, a small forest and perhaps an entire garden inside of them for our children, but whenever I eat a smoothie, precisely two things happen: 1. I resent the huge mess I create in my kitchen for such a small portion and 2. I'm hungry approximately 10 seconds after I drink it. It's time to admit that for some of us, smoothies are just not going to happen.
11. Screen time
The way I look at screen time is this: Every generation has had the "woe is us, the previous generation was so much better, the world is going to the crapper" mentality, right? Every previous generation saw their uphill-both-ways-through-the-snow escapades as the stuff of living that made it all great, but yet, here we are and we can't exactly stuff the technology genie back in the bottle.
So I say, stop caring, don't make it a bigger deal than it has to be or our kids really will think screens = gods, and accept it as a normal part of life, then move on. I think stressing about screens can sometimes make them more appealing and addicting.
But that being said, shut 'er down once in a while, too. Because common sense.
Good grief, don't we have enough to worry about in life without putting any pressure on ourselves to "bounce back" or "feel normal" right after giving birth? Guess what? There is no going back to normal after having a baby. There's a new normal, there's figuring out what's important to you, and there's accepting your genetic lot in life with some healthy choices, but for crying out loud, don't kill yourself trying to get bikini ready after birth because honestly, there really more important things in life.
And as a very wise mom of five once told me, you have the rest of your life to get back in shape, so enjoy those babies while they're young. Words to live by, truly. You do what matters to you and be healthy for yourself, but a few rolls here and there is honestly not the end of the world, mamas. Plus, you will look back at those pictures of you and your baby and not see the postpartum bulge or any extra pounds, but a beautiful, radiant mama who had the world in her arms.