Filling in the Blanks
My father-in-law once told me a story about driving behind a car carrying what appeared to be a beautiful woman. He saw long flowing brown hair, and his mind filled in the blanks. He completed the picture of what would undoubtedly be a gorgeous woman. After speeding up to confirm how beautiful she was, he was gravely disappointed. It was not a beautiful woman. It wasn’t even a beautiful man. It was in fact… a collie.
Don’t we, as moms, do that same thing? Pinterest tells us what our lives should look like – our homes, weddings, baby showers, and birthday parties. Hollywood tells us what we should wear and how little we should gain during pregnancy (not to mention how quickly we should lose that baby weight). Facebook shows us how our friends have it all together. Or are we just filling in the blanks?
In reality, we are just seeing the highlights. We imagine what life must be like for people that appear to have it “all together” and we fill in the blanks with unrealistic, heightened versions of reality.
The “Perfect Mom”
Recently, my gorgeous neighbor asked me to coffee. She was pregnant with her fourth baby and, over the past three years of living across the street, I had filled in the blanks and imagined her as the “perfect mom.” She worked part-time to spend more time with the kids while still pursuing a career. Their house and landscaping always looked pristine, while I feel like mine always looks like tornado aftermath. (By the way, where did all these toys even come from?!) I noticed she mowed the lawn at nine months pregnant, while I distinctly remember eating tubs of ice cream at nine months and attempting not to move my swollen cankles. I never heard her yelling at her kids, while my shouting can sometimes be heard in Dubai.
This woman had it all together.
While sipping coffee, however, I discovered that her struggles are just as real as mine. I learned that she and her husband are constantly searching for balance, just as we are. I learned the toys in their house are so out of control that she frantically scoops them into the corner of the living room when expecting guests, just like I do. I learned that for two months of her pregnancy she could barely walk due to pain, and mowing the lawn was her moment of sanity and the only form of exercise she had energy for. We both admitted to crying when we read the blog post “This Stage of Life…It’s Hard” because we could relate all too well. I realized very quickly that, although I had filled in the blanks of her life with picture-perfect scenes of tranquil motherhood, she lives the same daily chaos that I do. Her struggles are the same as mine. She worries about her kids, family balance, and life just like I do.
What an amazing reminder of how alike we all are. Life is short, as is this stage of life. If you are anything like me, you are living in chaos 90% of the time.
So let’s give each other a break, pour a glass of wine, and go tuck the kids in for the 15th time tonight.
Just keep in mind, that’s what the mom across the street is doing too.
Original content by Jolene, updated by Green Bay Area Mom