I still remember the day clearly. It was April and my first-born was a mere six weeks old. I was exhausted and overwhelmed, but we needed groceries. So, I lugged the 30-pound carrier holding a 12-pound baby into the store, hoisted it awkwardly into the shopping cart and began making my way down the aisles. We hadn’t made it through the produce section when Piper began to wail. I pushed the cart faster, frantically searched for the pacifier, and tried to remember what I was supposed to buy.
We were in the breakfast aisle when a terribly unhelpful woman looked at me with pursed lips and said, “You need to feed that baby! She’s obviously starving!” I wavered between wanting to punch her and wanting to dissolve into a puddle of tears next to the Frosted Flakes. Instead, I settled for walking away.
I finally made it to the checkout. With Piper in one arm, I fished my wallet with other to pay for my order, which was missing half the things I had intended to buy. After paying, I hurried out to my car, desperate to get home. As I was putting everything into my car, another stranger approached me. She smiled and asked, “Your first baby?” I nodded. “Well,” she said, squeezing my shoulder, “motherhood is hard. And you are doing a great job.” I mumbled my thanks as she walked away, got into my car, and cried the whole way home.
As moms, we are hard on ourselves. We look at the images in the media, the posts our friends write, read articles about all we should and shouldn’t be doing. Then we create impossible standards for ourselves. We constantly feel we are being judged…by strangers, haters on social media, and by each other. Why have the words of that woman in the Ingles parking lot stuck with me for 11 years? Because in a moment when I felt like a complete failure, she encouraged me. That is powerful stuff.
No matter how we spend our days, we all have nights where we lay our heads on the pillow feeling like rock stars. And we all have nights where we fall into bed feeling like utter failures. Whether we are working moms or stay-at-home moms, if we breast or bottle feed. Or we have a supportive partner or are going this path alone. If we take our kids to a pediatrician or a chiropractor or send them to public school, private school or homeschool. If they are reading at four or barely tying their shoes at 10. The vast majority of us are doing the best we can.
We love our children so desperately it hurts. Waking up every day overwhelmed by the daunting and beautiful task of being their moms. We make hundreds of decisions every day, we doubt ourselves, and we crash into our beds every night certain that the this is the hardest and best thing we’ve ever done.
Motherhood is hard. We all know that. So let’s encourage each other in this amazing, impossible task. Next time you see a mom in Target pushing a cart with a screaming 2-year-old, pat her arm and tell her it’s going to be okay. Text that friend with the newborn and tell her she will sleep through the night again eventually. Hug the mom in your office who just returned from maternity leave. Let’s tell each other that we see the struggles, we understand the hard choices, and we are all on the same team.
And if no one has told you today, let me be the first to say, motherhood is hard. You are doing a great job.