Parenting

That Viral 10-Year Challenge And The Problem With Perspective

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Courtesy of Stephanie Medley

The invasion of the 10-year-challenge on social media got me reminiscing about 2009-me. Ten years ago, I was a new mom to twin girls and I was drowning. Drowning in cuteness, in bottles, in diapers, breast pumps, tears and drowning in isolation. I was in the middle of the struggle and I felt totally alone with two crying babies. Of course, I told everyone who asked the standard answer …

“I’m fine.”

“We’re fine.”

“Everything is fine.”

Ten years ago, I was so tired, hormonal, and hell-bent on not asking for help. I even had a partner who was in the middle of the struggle with me. Though, as a true perfectionist, I told him “I’ve got this,” which translated to “read my mind and jump in here where I need help, which I will not ask you for.” He was not only struggling with our new normal, but now he was confused on whether to grab a bottle or run in the other direction.

This doesn’t sound familiar to you? Well, good for you. I’m no longer ashamed to admit that I, on the other hand, was a complete mess ten years ago. Ten years ago, I would not have admitted this to anyone. I put forth a massive amount of energy to hide my mess from anyone daring to enter my world. When you spend a large amount of time claiming there is “nothing to see here,” people either begin to believe you or become afraid to approach you. Either way, I managed to find my spot on isolation island, far away from any sign of help.

Ten years ago, I was in the deep blue ocean of “mommy,” and the waves of baby were crashing over my head so often I couldn’t catch my breath. At the very same moment, I was so in love with these two humans I couldn’t see straight. Basically, I was hanging onto my sanity by the thinnest of thread known to human-kind. I couldn’t see past 3:00 pm, much less a year — or ten years — down the road. I was most concern with maintaining these little humans for another day, making sure their behinds stayed dry and trying to “sleep when they sleep,” as everyone preached.

Survival was in the eye of the beholder at that stage, but that is what I did. Survive. No one could have confused what we were doing in our house as thriving, though we could present to the outside world and be “fine” when given enough prep-time.

Perspective, my friends, is everything. I didn’t realize that time was so brief, and though it felt like 15 years had passed, it had only been four months. I didn’t realize that asking for help didn’t make me a bad mom, but rather made me honest and sane. “Fine” was my prison, and I willfully allowed myself to remain incarcerated for far too long. I pushed away my first favorite human (aka, my husband) with my wall built by “fine” bricks and missed out on moments of peace instead of stress.

All the while, from my perspective, I was doing the right thing and what was necessary. As the default parent, I struggled to let go of any piece of parenting with the fear of not being enough. I was afraid if I couldn’t handle it all, then I was failing at every turn and task as a parent. I quite literally beat myself with words on a daily basis while I remained silent with the exception of “everything is fine.”

Ten years later, I wish I could hug that new momma. I wish I could let her sleep for five straight hours without waking up. I wish I could tell her that right now is but a blink of an eye in this mom-game. And I wish I could laugh in her face when I tell her this is the easy part. 2019-me would blow 2009-me’s mind! If she had enough energy, 2009-me might kick 2019-me’s ass for laughing and call the present me a liar.

Perspective – what a bitch! Perspective gives us blinders and makes us deaf, but it is also why we do what we do. We function on limited information we believe to be the truth. Perspective gives us passion while providing boundaries. We hold onto our truth so tightly and believe it to be our handbook from which to practice. As this process goes on, we miss the rest of the world turning and can only see our little pinpoint of reality, which we created. What is healthy about that?

Courtesy of Stephanie Medley

The exhausted momma in this picture just took her babies to get their shots for the first time. Laying between my legs and on my chest was only way those babies would go to sleep. I can still smell the sweetness from the tops of their heads. I remember this exact moment when my sister took this picture. I remember thinking, “Seriously, I look like hell and I just want to sleep. Leave me alone!”

2009-me was doing the best she knew how with the information she had. We can’t hold ourselves accountable for things we didn’t know. What we can do is better, when we know better.

Those babies are now in the 5th grade and still will go to sleep laying on me in my bed from time to time. The difference is today I enjoy the moment because I know better. My perspective has changed. My eyes and heart are open.

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