Dear Perfect Mother,
I wanted to apologize. You probably haven’t realized how much I envy your life – every aspect seems perfect and unattainable. Since the moment you announced your pregnancy, I’ve been comparing our lives and striving to match you in every way. You see, when you announced your pregnancy, I was still hiding mine. Our children are one month apart – and since you entered motherhood a month before me, it makes it easy to get trapped in the comparison battle. And each month your daughter reached a milestone and Abby didn’t, I assumed it was my fault. And each month when you thrived through motherhood and I barely survived, I assumed I was doing it all wrong.
You beam with pride at being able to nurse for 10 months and your plans to keep going to that year mark, each time expressing how surprised you were by how much you loved this special bond you’ve been able to grow through nursing. I spent the first three weeks of Abby’s life crying over thoughts of breastfeeding and never enjoying time with her before making the switch to formula. And while I am very proud of you, as I am of all parents who happily feed their child, and while I know that formula feeding was the best decision for me, I still envy your joy from nursing. When your doctor told you that your only choice in delivery was to have to get a C-section, you pushed the envelope and delivered your child in the way you’ve always dreamed. And while I know you don’t realize that my mind floods with these thoughts, I felt as though I’ve failed because I couldn’t and you could.
Every time I turn around, you’ve mastered another skill. Your daughter’s hair is always beautiful and neat, while Abby regularly attends daycare with hair that matches a troll doll. You run a business, keep an orderly home, and do it all with poise and a smile. I work a traditional 9-5, am the mom who picks up last, and is always rushing from one spot to the next. Not to mention laundry has been sitting in my dryer for about a week at this point, and I’m constantly dropping Abby off at daycare wearing only one sock – I swear I put one on her before we left the house. Your baby girl has been sleeping through the night since month one. Abby woke up at 1:30 am this morning just because she wanted to be held. You lost the baby weight in no time. I’ve eaten peanut butter from the jar as dinner on more than one occasion. You flew to another country with your baby and never once expressed obstacles or fear. We took an eight hour road trip to Virginia to visit John’s family over Thanksgiving that ended up in a screaming match and a child covered in poop. You volunteer locally, host large gatherings, and keep up with every hobby you had during your pre-mother stage. I barely can keep up with this personal blog (as is quite evident from the lack of posts since October). And recently, you announced with not one ounce of fear that you are expecting baby number two. And while I’m so incredibly happy for you and your family, my mind is haunted by thoughts that I would never survive. I can barely keep my head (and finances) above water with just one, and while we dream of growing our family even more, I know we are no where ready for that leap. And I feel shame admitting that I’m lost, and scared, and have no clue what I’m doing.
I have spent countless nights examining every action, every decision, every moment, trying to solve the puzzle as to why the world would allow some to excel at motherhood while some are struggling. And then further debating if it was actually just me. Perhaps I am the only one who is struggling and the rest of the world has figured it out. And I envied you and loathed me and wished to have your expertise and felt completely lost.
And then, the week before Christmas, on an after-hours business call, while attempting to keep a teething Abby from screaming by cuddling her close in one arm, and organizing paperwork in the other, and apologizing for the noise, the woman on the other line was in awe of my ability to keep my life running. She called me supermom. She probably doesn’t realize it, but her admission of not being able to juggle managing my growing portfolio and a baby changed me. It made a deep impact in me that day. Being on the phone, she in no way noticed the bags under my eyes from spending the early hours soothing a baby, or the hour-old spit up on my shoulder, or the toys scattered around the room, but she noticed (and commented on) my professionalism, my ability to remember countless details about multiple programs, and finalizing plans for new events without missing a beat. To her, it appeared I was keeping it together, or more so, I was thriving. I was Supermom.
So, perfect mother, I wanted to apologize. Through this journey, I did the one thing I promised I would never do – compared my own journey to someone else’s. I tried to fit my piece into a puzzle that was not mine to play. And I realize now, that perhaps you do not have it completely together – and if you do, I truly am proud of you and your journey. But, it is your journey, not mine. I have to keep that in mind. My house will never be spotless. My sink will be filled with at least two dirty bottles at all times. I’ll end up at work wearing two different shoes. I’ll remember to put socks on Abby, but they will also probably not match. I’ll continue to try to learn how to give Abby perfect pigtails, but then easily give up and put on a headband that she’ll immediately thrash onto the floor.
Perfect mother, who I have envied constantly, I’m sorry. You truly are an amazing woman. And I do honestly wish I had your secrets, your composure, and your stamina on some days, but I’m learning to understand that I may not need it as much as I thought I did. Congratulations on being an incredible person and mom, and to your newest adventure. Just because our paths are different from one another, it doesn’t mean that either is better. Thank you for letting me live in your shadow, because it has taught me to stand alone.
To my readers, I apologize for the delays in posting. Since Halloween, life has gotten a bit hectic and complicated. It appears the dust has settled and I’m jumping back. I promise to post updates regarding all the things you my have missed and hope you’ll stick with me.