When we imagine motherhood, most of us know it won’t be easy. But it’s hard to envision just how low our low moments might be.
On Monday, Tess Holliday, model and founder of #EffYourBeautyStandards, shared one of her low moments on social media—one that all moms can relate to.
She posted a picture of herself crying, along with these words:
“This is the reality of being a mom. I've been up since 3 am, & every time I get Bowie to sleep & try to lay him down, he wakes up. He is teething & has no clue I have to work today, & most days I can work 15 hour days, take care of both boys & put some lipstick on & deal with it. Most days I drink my coffee & smile at every little thing he does thinking it's the best thing in the world, but not today. I've been crying for nearly two hours, & I'm crying as I write this. I've reached my limit, exceeded it to be honest.”
Her post instantly went viral and thousands of women posted supportive comments and shared their own struggles with parenthood. Because if there's truly an issue that unites all moms, it's this: the depths that parenthood can bring you to, the way that exhaustion and expectations can wring everything out of us.
Holliday added, “I hope one day that changes & society views mothers as the flawed human beings we are that are just trying to keep our shit together like everyone else.”
This is an incredibly powerful message is. It’s one thing to read that we’re not alone in our challenges—it’s another thing entirely to see someone else’s exhausted tears. In the dark moments of parenting, it can be easy to think that everyone else has it figured out. Particularly with the scroll of pictures of mostly happy children and smiling families we absorb from our social media feeds.
But the truth is, these tough moments happen all the time. For me, they happened more when my kids were very little, when my sleep was always shattered, when I was still breastfeeding around the clock, when my body, heart and mind were still adapting to becoming a parent. But they still happen, and they will continue to happen.
By offering this glimpse into one of her personal low points, Holliday gives other parents a gift.
The other night, my husband was out at a meeting, and my son had just thrown up. As I scrubbed his vomit from the couch, my daughter hollered at me from upstairs, where we usually brush our teeth together before bed. “MAMA!” she yelled, over and over.
I ran up the stairs. “I’m trying to clean up puke! Can’t you just brush your teeth by yourself?” I yelled at her. Her sweet face sagged, the usual sparkle disappeared from her eyes, and she started sobbing. A huge wave of shame passed through my chest.
Maybe I’m just not cut out for this, I thought.
And yet, most of the time, I am. Holliday’s picture reminds me that I’m not alone in being stretched to my limits by parenthood. By the expectations of perfection—both my own and society’s. By sleep deprivation or fractured nerves or vomit.
By offering this glimpse into one of her personal low points, Holliday gives other parents a gift. You are not alone if you sometimes feel like it’s all too much, her picture reminds us. You are not alone if you are so tired that you can’t imagine how you’ll make it through the day. You are not alone if you feel broken and ill-equipped, if the weight of all you’re carrying brings you to your knees.
You are not alone.