Life is messy. People are messy. But, for some reason, there seems to be an expectation that mothers shouldn’t be messy. We are expected to have our shit together. I don’t mean messy, like your living room is cluttered and you’re behind on laundry. I mean messy like addiction, mental illness, strained relationships with your family, or a past you’re not proud of. Messy like that—real life messy.
Mothers are depicted in movies, books, and tv shows as the peace keepers who always know what to say. We are inherent providers—we are the fixers. The glue that holds everything and everyone together. But the mothers with the tattered back-story, who wake-up every morning to be the best versions of themselves, well, those are the mothers I know.
I’m not saying you aren’t a good mom if your life isn’t messy and complex. I’m just saying most of us are good moms who also happen to be messy and complex. Sometimes we feel alone in that. Sometimes we try to hide that messiness for any number of reasons. We don’t want to stand out as the messy one—the one who doesn’t have her shit together.
Sometimes just trying to do it all and be the best for everyone is enough to leave us feeling overwhelmed and broken. From the outside, it looks like everyone else has their shit together. It looks like they are getting along just fine. So, why can’t I? What’s wrong with me? This thought has rattled around inside my own mind.
Sometimes we feel messy or broken—maybe both. But, we are mothers, so we button it up, or tuck it away. We push our feelings to the side, and store our skeletons in the closet, because we have shit to do, and there’s no time to be messy. Right?
Well, let me say this out loud, or in writing as it is—I’m a mess. I always have been. I was messy long before I became a mother. I’ve gone down the path of pretending, because I was ashamed. I’ve made bad choices—regrettable choices, really, and done things I’m not proud of.
Sometimes I try too hard. Sometimes I don’t try hard enough. But if you ask anyone around me, they would probably tell you I have my shit together. I suppose it looks that way from the outside, but I don’t feel that way at all. In fact, sometimes I feel lost. Sometimes I feel like I’m failing. I feel overwhelmed on a daily basis, and sometimes I suck at expressing myself. I have relationships in my life that are broken beyond repair, but I keep going. My shit is nowhere near together, but I don’t care, this is who I am.
To the mom who feels messy or broken, you are not alone. Not even a little. Most of us feel this way at some point. We all have things, some big things, some little things, and some things we can’t explain—that’s OK. It’s OK to be messy—most strong women are. Being a mess is what gives us our strength and resilience. We didn’t get this way by living the charmed life. We are strong because we have been through some shit. Because we are complex and messy, but we keep going. We keep trying.
I make no apologies for my messiness. Not all of it is pretty or easily explained, but this is me. This is so many of us. There is something to be said for transparency — it’s freeing. Scary as hell, but freeing. Don’t be afraid of your messiness. Don’t apologize for it, embrace it. You are a mother, but no different than anyone else. We all have shit, because life is messy. People are messy. It’s OK to be a messy mom, it just means you’re real.