One of my friends recently posted this hilarious meme on Facebook and tagged me and a few other friends in it. It’s the cover of an old Nancy Drew novel with three girls burying something outside at night. The title on the book is “The Mysterious Night We Buried Our Last F***.”
I cracked up when I saw it! You see, the group of moms that she tagged in the meme are notorious for getting together to
complain commiserate about motherhood. If I’m going to be completely honest here, we really get together to let our kids wear each other out, sip on some wine coffee, and have a major b****fest.
Now, I know, a lot of moms would completely shame us for this. They’d say we need to be grateful, we’re so blessed, we’re privileged. Our children are precious gifts from God. (They are — really! I do believe this.) We have nothing really to whine about.
But I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for 5 plus years now. And sometimes, I need to complain. A lot. If you’re the type of mom that does feel blessed all the time — that’s wonderful! I’m so happy for you. But I wouldn’t suggest hanging out with my group of girlfriends any time soon. We’re still in the trenches of motherhood. The sleepless nights, shoveling our lunch into our mouths while we pass out goldfish and load the dishwasher, inadvertently training our bodies to poop at 9 p.m. because it’s the only time we get a free minute to ourselves. This is our life. Our exhausting, mentally-taxing, beautiful, love-filled life.
But really. Sometimes I feel like moms aren’t allowed basic human rights. We can’t eat when we’re hungry, we can’t go to the bathroom when we need to. We can’t sleep when we’re tired. Once, I was so sleep deprived that I ran a red light. It’s against the law to drive drunk. But exhausted moms? We have to suck it up and get things done.
Anyway, back to that meme.
You see, at one time in my life, I was one of those hashtag blessed moms. Those judgy moms. I had waited my whole life to be a mommy and, by golly, I was going to be the best mom ever.
I read all the books.
I followed all the rules.
I did all the Pinterest pins.
Most of the pressure I put on myself. I really was trying to be the “perfect mom.” Or what I thought was perfect. But I also was SO scared of being judged. I felt judged if I put my baby in the stroller. (I should be wearing him.) I felt judged for bottle-feeding. (I should be breastfeeding.) I felt judged for not putting a hat on his head, for not letting him cry, for letting him cry, for holding him too much, for not holding him enough — you name it, someone will judge you for it.
It got worse when my son was old enough to start pitching tantrums. I could just feel the judgment burning into me when I was out in public and my kid started pitching a fit. And the more I felt judged, the more pressure I put on myself, and the more exhausted I became.
Until one day…
I buried my last f*ck!
I remember that day specifically. It was freezing cold outside and we were at Chick-fil-A, the stay-at-home-mom sanctuary. The employees always make us feel welcomed and important — which doesn’t happen much when you’re a stay-at-home mom. Unlike almost every other place that serves food around us, it’s the one place where I can walk in with my kids and (usually) not see disproving looks from kid-less customers.
On this particular day, we stayed for about an hour and a half. My kids were having a blast in the play-place. But it was time to head home so I could get Maddie down for her nap. I gave the kids their 5-minute warning, but still knew it would be a fight to get them to leave.
Sure enough, when it was time to go, Maddie started pitching a full-blown toddler tantrum. She was overly tired and needed a nap desperately. I tried every trick in the book, but this tantrum was past the point of being able to diffuse. Graham was also being particularly difficult and not wanting to put his shoes or coat on. (And it was one of those bitterly cold days.)
So I took a deep breath, scooped up my screaming toddler, grabbed the coats, and told Graham in my sternest mom whisper that he better follow me to the car or there would be major consequences. I can picture in my mind what I looked like. Maddie was kicking and screaming at the top of her lungs, I was burdened down with a million coats, shoes, and my purse, and Graham was trailing behind me, barefoot, coat-less and whining and complaining about leaving. There was sweat dripping down my brow, and I was huffing and puffing from anger, and from the exertion of carrying a million things. We walked all the way to the car like that. In the freezing cold. Both kids barefoot and not wearing coats.
But right before we made it, I passed an older lady in the parking lot. She was giving me THE LOOK. You know the one — judging me as sternly as she could with her eyes and her expression, without actually saying anything. But I could hear her thoughts: “Just look at that mother! Why would she let her children carry on like that? She should’ve made them put their shoes and coats on! It’s freezing out here! What a terrible mother! I would never have done that in my day!”
I just looked her straight in the eye and smiled. I could feel the judgment shooting out of her eyes and I shot my smile right back.
I wouldn’t let her get to me. I’ve been a mom long enough now to know not to let people like her bother me. She can judge away. I know I’m a good mom. I was doing my best and I was doing all that I could.
I had finally buried my last f*ck.
And just like that — I was free.