Motherhood is…a Hallmark commercial?

When my husband & I got married I distinctly remember visions of what our lives would be like together. I looked into our future & I saw it all. The two-story house on a quiet street, family dog, 2.5 kids, & myself, in a career that I adored.

In my visions we were always smiling, the kids were happy, the house was perfectly clean and organized—all was well. I saw myself baking with the children, all laughing around me, the holiday crafts we had made together decorating the refrigerator in the background.  I was headed for a wonderfully perfect life in suburbia. What I didn’t realize at the time was this image that I had in my mind, it wasn’t a life, it was a Norman Rockwell painting, a Hallmark movie, a Nestle commercial—but it wasn’t real.

Now this may seem painfully obvious to you, but for a young, idealistic 25 year old expecting her first baby, it was a shock.  I encountered motherhood with a false expectation of what my life “should” look like.  It was a picture created from thousands of magazine ads with perfect mothers holding perfect babies, from years of watching television shows depicting “Betty Crocker” mothers that could do it all with ease. It started in pregnancy, from the moment I found out that I was expecting I immersed myself in baby books—I stopped eating all the wrong foods; started eating all the right ones. I continued to exercise 6 days a week, drank the perfect amount of water, slept in just the right position.  I avoided cold medicine as if it was the plague. I carefully planned out my birth plan—which absolutely excluded any pain medicine.  I was striving for perfection.

“Freedom From Want” By Norman Rockwell

Once our baby arrived the obsession continued.  I tried to keep my house in perfect condition, make sure that my baby was doing it all—sign language, sleep training, cloth diapers, etc. Now I am a 29-year-old mother of three, and I am exhausted. My house isn’t perfectly decorated & immaculately clean—and I feel guilty about that. My kids don’t behave wonderfully all the time—and I feel guilty about that. I don’t always have time to cook the most nutritious meals—and I feel guilty about that. I wake up late & don’t always make time for worship in the mornings. I am, at times, short-tempered and impatient. I have been known to use the television as a babysitter to get a moment of peace, and even let my twins sleep on their stomach because they HATED swaddling and wouldn’t sleep any other way (gasp)—and I feel guilty about all of it.

But you know what, I have come to accept that I am not alone.  I am not the only drowning mother in a sea of perfect, beautiful women who have it all together. No. There are others that find this ideal is too much. This ideal that we’ve created through countless ads, television shows, movies, & Facebook posts that reveal only our best moments, and rarely our worst.

So for all you moms out there, having perhaps your worst day—keep the faith! Despite all the cute pictures & funny anecdotes barraging you on Facebook—there are times we all want to cry.

Image Credit: supershot.com

You see, the truth is, we all get angry at our kids. There are moments we ALL want to rip our hair out & wonder why in the world we didn’t just stay childless.  More often than not our house is not kept in perfect condition, because we have toddlers running about—wreaking havoc where there once was order.  Sometimes we cry; sometimes we yell; sometimes we feel like giving up.  This is life. It is messy. It is imperfect. It is hard. It is not made up of a thousand perfectly happy Facebook posts, and at the end of the day, thank God for that! Without its chaos & imperfections I wouldn’t have all the stories & memories that make up my life—instead I would merely have a Hallmark commercial—superficial & uneventful at best.

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