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The Ugly Reality of Parenthood

Image credit: Graceful Mess

“Mama, I hate it when your eyes look like that!”

“Why are you making that face, Mama?”

“Mama, why are you being so quiet??”

“Daddy, where’s Mama?”

On any given day, I go through such a range of emotions when it comes to my children that it makes my head spin. Love, happiness, anger, elation, pride, discouragement, worry, and then some.

Just waking my little ones up for school is a gamble. Will they be happy or sad? Will they hug me or lash out? Will they want what I have to serve them for breakfast or will they protest? Will my son like the pants that I picked out for him or will they be too baggy, too tight, too scratchy, too blue for him? Will my daughter remember to put on deodorant or will she roll her eyes when I remind her? All of these questions cross my mind EVERY SINGLE DAY before the children have even woken up.

I heard from a friend not long ago and she said that we must be doing fine based on what she’s seen of our life on social media.

Those words sat with me and simmered and boiled up a few times and made it clear to me that even though I don’t intentionally filter out the crappy moments of our life I apparently do. I guess we all do because those aren’t the moments that you want to or even consider snapping a picture of. I’m not likely to say to my children when I’m getting on to them for the 200th time that day for arguing, “Hey kids! Hang on a sec. Let me get a picture of your tear-streaked face and your brother’s red cheeks! I need this for Instagram!”

Yes, we all filter our life. We all take the bits and pieces that are memorable, beautiful, capturable, and let that be the imagery that the world sees. I think this filtered view is what makes many parents, myself included, feel so downtrodden and exhausted at the end of the day. Because parenthood isn’t always beautiful. It’s pretty nasty sometimes. But all we see are the beautiful parts of everyone’s lives. All we see is perfection and joy and the blissful side of parenthood.

My brand of parenthood isn’t pretty. I’m going to promise you that.

I try not to yell at my children. But if I don’t they won’t hear me over their own elevated voices.

I try not to use bad words. But they slip out anyway and I end up having to explain why they can’t say those words like mommy does sometimes.

I try not to ignore my children and be ever-present for them. But the world is so full of distractions like work, laundry, dishes, housework, and the Facebook news feed on my phone that I can’t be completely focused on them all of the time.

I try to do things with the kids that are fun and exciting and educational. But sometimes mommy is all tired of being the party planner and banisher of boredom and a Netflix binge seems like a good idea.

I try to keep the house tidy and perfect at all times. But when all we do is leave for school in the morning and come home just in time to climb into bed, the laundry tends to pile up, the dishes may sit a day, and it may be awhile before the floor gets mopped.

I try.

And each and every single day I lay my head on the pillow and think of so many moments that I failed.

So I cling to the few things that I actually get right. I laugh out loud at the highlights.

It is the paradox of parenthood and one that I hope doesn’t land my children in therapy one day.

I am an imperfect person married to an imperfect person and we are parenting two imperfect people and a goofy and perfect dog.

We live out grace every single day.

If I have conveyed to you that we are living a perfect life, please forgive me. It couldn’t be farther from the truth:

  • My house is messy.
  • My laundry isn’t put away.
  • There are currently breakfast (and a few dinner) dishes in my sink.
  • I forgot to make my bed today.
  • I didn’t yell too much at my kids this morning but the day is young. I probably will at some point.

My point? We are all showing the best of our lives on social media or even in the pictures that we share with others. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. But here’s an idea: Every now and then, pick up the phone and call a friend and listen to what their day was really like. Don’t let their Facebook or Instagram feed tell you how their life is going. I’m so glad that my friend asked me about my family because it gave me the chance to tell her the truth of our reality. And I was able to listen to hers, too.

This post originally appeared on Graceful Mess. It has been reprinted with permission.

Jennifer Collins is a working mom who is married to the love of her life. They’re raising two amazing kids and a dog, too. Sounds pretty normal, doesn’t it? Well, life gets messy sometimes, and she likes to write about the victories and messes along the way. Her site is Graceful Mess and you can find her on Facebook and Instagram.

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