The other day my best friend and I finally got a chance to talk on the phone. Now, that in and of itself is a damn miracle, as you I’m sure know since you’re reading a site dedicated mostly to moms.
I’m a single mom of three boys, and she’s the mom of an almost 2-year-old boy with a second one on the way. We live in different states, but talking on the phone isn’t exactly our jam anymore. These days we pretty much send each other subliminal spirit signals from across the country and pray we each feel the soul sister vibes at the right time. We Fievel Goes West it and know that in the trenches of motherhood, even from states away, “somewhere out there, beneath the pale moonlight, someone’s thinking of me, and loving me tonight.”
My boys are a little bit older than hers, so as if I know what I’m doing, she called me for advice about toddler tantrums. (Insert uncontrollable, crazy sleep-deprived person laughter.)
She explained a little bit about her son’s recent behavior. He’s been throwing his fork, food, and plate from his high chair onto the kitchen table in front of company; refusing to eat; not listening; screaming like he’s on fire for what appears to be just for fun; seemingly enjoying timeout rather than being particularly upset by it; fighting the “I want to dress myself” battle every morning; and being sort of a bully at day care. You know, the things that make us feel like we are losing an epic, life-sized war against a very small human, and we are sort of have no good escape route.
So before launching into my expert advice on the subject, I started where we all need to start when we go to our girlfriends with these things.
“Oh girl! Yes! Me tooo! I hear you! This phase suucks! I mean, we love them, but some of this stuff suuuuuucks! Can we just take a moment and talk about how much we love daycare?! Goodbye, and good luck!”
I told her about the (many) mornings I left my cherubs at day care muttering cuss words under my breath as I hollered, “I love you” through gritted teeth — trying not to fall on my knees in front of their godsend teachers in thanks for taking them off my hands for a few hours while I escaped to work.
We talked about mom guilt, and then I told her to shake that shit off because she is doing an amazing job. I told her that the most important thing I have learned over these last four years as a parent is that every day of motherhood is just one great big lesson in grace.
Grace for our babies. Grace for ourselves. And grace for anyone else we encounter on a daily basis as we stumble our way through these years. Grace. On repeat.
I talked to her about remembering that no matter how bad a day has been or how big the failures felt, she is doing a wonderful job, and she is an amazing mommy. I told her that some days, the best we’ve got sucks — but then we get to try again the next day. And sometimes that next day sucks too. But at the end of each one, we somehow love our babies even more than the last one, and they love us that much more too.
Parenting is hard. The years roll on, and as one thing gets easier, something else gets harder. It just is what it is. Love carries us through, but sometimes that’s all.
So I’m not here to discuss toddler tantrums and how to handle them. While we did talk about that and I shared with her some of the tricks of the trade I’ve picked up along the way, the biggest takeaway from that conversation, at least for me, was the importance of having close girlfriends we can go to and say, “I don’t like my kid right now, and I need some help!” and have that be OK.
Life is filled with expectations to be perfect. Parenthood is saturated with pressure and this constant nagging feeling that we’re always screwing everything up. Motherhood is filled with silent competitions of who’s doing it better or worse than us. Everywhere we turn we are faced with our failures and how we don’t quite measure up— as women, as spouses, as partners, as mothers.
Whether that comes from outside sources or our very own brains, those messages are there. Maybe not 100% of the time, and maybe we’ve learned how to fight them off most of the time, but no matter how warrior you’ve become in fending off mom guilt, we still get swallowed by that hole every once in a while. And when we do, we need our mom friends to pull us out.
We need our girlfriends who have gone ahead of us, and the ones standing right beside or behind us, to reach out their beautiful, spit-up soaked, dirt-covered hand and say, “I’ve got you girl. You’re gonna be OK and so are your kids.”
We need each other. We need to vent judgment free. We need to cry. We need to laugh. We need to make fun of our kidss behavior and not feel bad about it for a few minutes. We need to get it wrong and still hear, “You did good,” every now and then.
There’s nothing quite like another mom friend who just gets it. It’s bigger than needing each other for tips and tricks and help. We need each other for the friendship and support that comes from our people — the moms walking in the trenches beside us. We need the acceptance that comes from saying, “I mumbled fuck you to my son as I walked out the door,” and hearing, “Oh thank god, me too!”
We love our babies more than life itself, but sometimes it’s just hard out here. So we need each other because it’s at least a little bit easier when we can get by with a little help from our friends.
And if you don’t have any close girls you can do this with, at least come here and know you’re not alone. Rock on warrior moms! We got this, together!
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