I was having one of those days—one of those "kick-you-in-the-crotch, spit-on-your-neck fantastic" types of day.
It started out with someone not wanting to wear the costume he just had to have for the special dress-up day at school. Then "the naughty one" had to visit the principal's office. Several phone calls and emails to therapists about the one who won't eat "real food," and desperately trying to get the baby to take a nap longer than five minutes so that I could get anything done. It was a day that clothes were piled so high in my laundry room that I feared a sock and underwear avalanche.
The last straw was finding ballpoint pen on a pair of my shoes—the darling, splurge pair of leopard print flats that goes with everything.
I mean, come on. That was the last straw.
I felt like I was drowning and no one would throw me a life preserver.
I might have lost it—several times—screaming, yelling, threatening, punishing. It just snowballed and snowballed until little ones were in tears and I was feeling like the worst mother in the world.
And then, salvation came in the form of two phone calls.
Two random phone calls from Mom friends, and 40 minutes later I wasn’t feeling so horrible.
We shared it all—the good, the bad, and mostly ugly. We shared the part of motherhood that's feeling like everything is coming at you all at once and you are struggling to keep your head above water. The “no sleep, no exercise, no time for ourselves” part.
The “junk food for lunch and kids who are flawed and a life that is so unlike a happy Fisher-Price commercial” part. It's what we signed up for, no doubt about that.
But clearly it’s not what we expected.
There was a time in my life when I thought I didn't need girlfriends, when I purposely distanced myself from them. For whatever reasons that I thought were valid at the time, I avoided my 'friends' and kept women I didn't know at arms-length. Whether it was because I had been hurt in past, didn't want to be judged, or didn't think I was good enough to be part of a certain social circle, I stayed away.
And it was lonely.
It made me judge my mothering more harshly because I was trying to live up to a standard that I had set for myself by watching other women from a far. The standard that I had created in just an hour at a Gymboree class, or by catching a glimpse of women having lunch together, or seeing the perfectly coiffed mom sitting in front of me at church with her darling, well-behaved children all in a row beside her.
But never knowing what the real truth was.
Then slowly, I began to reconnect with other women from my past and other moms in my town. I learned what it was like to have friends again and what their truths really were. Talking and laughing and yelling, "Exactly!" at the same time as we describe how we feel like we’re screwing up the mom job.
One friend even declared, "Oh, Kathy, you are so normal!"
I needed that validation in the form of a break I would never have given myself ten years ago: time to spend talking with friends and other women who just “get it.”
I realized I needed my friends, who love me because I am a good person, to remind me of that. And to remind me they have those days and moments too.