We live in a culture that glorifies individualism, perfectly curated social media feeds, and success in all areas of life. While these ideals negatively affect everyone, I believe it is the most harmful to mothers. Motherhood is not meant to be done alone. We love the saying “it takes a village to raise a child,” but the reality is many moms don’t have a village and are left to themselves to raise their children.
On top of attempting to raise our children by ourselves or with a spouse, we also receive the mixed messages that if we stay at home with our children we are not doing enough. Or if we work outside of the home, we don’t care for our kids enough. Moms can’t win. We also put added pressure on ourselves by comparing our lives to the beautifully perfect pictures of people we follow on social media. This leads us to be in a constant state of anxiety, sometimes depression, and ultimately an overwhelming feeling of discontentment.
How do we combat these messages that are constantly in our face? I believe there are a few ways we can begin to be open and honest about our lives.
Women being vulnerable with each other is one of the greatest gifts we can give each other. When I first became a mom the question I kept asking myself over and over again is “why didn’t anyone tell me how hard this was going to be.” I’ll never forget the first time a mom friend was completely open and honest with me about how she was struggling with her children. It instantly made me feel like I wasn’t a bad mom, and I’m not alone.
However, there are often things that get in the way of us being vulnerable with each other. I’ve met a lot of women and mothers who have been hurt more deeply by other women friendships than by boyfriends or significant others. This causes them to not trust other women and ultimately it isolates them. This breaks my heart for many reasons. If you are one of these women who has been deeply hurt by a close friend then I understand it is going to be extremely hard to open yourself up again. Which is why we need to be brave.
It takes courage to be vulnerable. When you open yourself up to someone, you’re opening yourself up to possibly be hurt. You can’t control how the other person is going to respond to your honesty. But it’s worth it. More often than not when I’m vulnerable with someone, they open up as well. Vulnerability breeds vulnerability. These type of interactions usually happen face to face. Social media is great for getting to know you interactions but in order to foster deeper relationships, we need in-person conversations. This can be hard with littles. But it’s worth the effort and necessary to build healthy relationships and create our village.
We are also often afraid to speak up when someone has hurt us. Believe me, conflict is my LEAST favorite thing in the whole world, I avoid it like the plague. But in order to have true, genuine friendships, we must cultivate healthy conflict and restoration in friendships.
Ultimately the only way we as mothers can live an uncurated, vulnerable, brave life is by being content with who we are and what we have. It’s easy to blame social media for our discontentment, but social media doesn’t cause discontentment, it only reveals the discontent that is already in our hearts. Until we know the root cause of our discontentment and take active steps towards changing, we will always be discontent.
Recently I’ve been struggling with wanting more freedom and time to pursue my creative dreams. But with a very active toddler who always wants to be outside, I’ve often had to put those dreams on hold. My discontent infiltrated every area of my life, I was often frustrated with my husband and my little girl. I took a step back and re-evaluated what was causing my frustration and what I could do to change. I had to remember this is only a short season of my life. Also, I reminded myself raising a family requires a lot of sacrifice on my part. This doesn’t mean my dreams have to die, but it does mean I will sometimes have to put them aside to come back to them at a later time.
We all struggle with different forms of discontentment. I want to encourage us to not feed each other’s discontent by always putting our perfectly curated foot forward. Instead practice being humble, and vulnerable with each other. Go first, share your story and what you struggle with. We need each other’s true selves more then we need a pretty picture.