The Story Behind Every Smiling Face I’ve Ever Posted on Social Media

If I’ve only ever gotten ONE idea across in this blog, I hope it’s this:  While awesome and incredible and a journey I wouldn’t give up for the world, parenthood is hard for me.  There are, I think, a lot of reasons why.

Anxiety, for one. I overanalyze every choice I make on their behalf.  And every choice they make on their own behalf.  I worry about being too controlling.  Or not controlling enough.  A million years ago, when I had a job, I worried about not being with my children.  And, now, after a million years (or 13, let’s not get mired down with pertinent details, ummmKay?) without a job I worry that I’ve been a poor example to both kids, but especially my daughter; having essentially given up my career (which admittedly wasn’t too much of a sacrifice, because I didn’t like it) to be nothing more than a sub-par mom with a messy house and trash filled car who frequently berates herself for not being able to get her shit together when she doesn’t even have a job.  

Relentlessness, for another.  I suppose this one goes hand in hand with my old pal anxiety.  Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 12 months a year- there simply is no off switch for a mom.  The choices I mentioned above?  There is always one needing to be made.  Do we stick with piano lessons, even though getting them to practice is turning me into a raging, screaming bitch momma?  Is it ok to let my kid quit French horn lessons to be on the developmental golf team?  If my daughter has both winter soccer training and ski practice scheduled for the same night, do I risk ruining her soccer dreams by letting her choose to ski for the evening?  And why is this a question?  Why would one not ski in the winter instead of going to indoor soccer training, when soccer has no off-season?  This is a no-brainer, right?  Well, because they’ll be taking attendance at soccer.  They’re always taking attendance.  And, while missing practice may or may not affect how many games her team wins or loses in the upcoming spring/summer season; they’ll be going over attendance numbers come the next round of tryouts.  Relentless.

And then there’s my other old pal, self-loathing.  How stupid must I be to get mired down in all this absolute bullshit. My kids have two parents who love them, a roof over their heads, health insurance, three meals a day, and are absolutely steeped in privilege from their toes to the tippy top of their heads; so how worthless of a human being must I be to even write this damn blog post and bemoan the difficulties of parenthood?  For the love of God, get OVER yourself, ANNE.

Of course, let’s not leave out the fact that sometimes my kids are just straight up assholes.  They won’t put away their laundry without being threatened.  They don’t get their homework turned in.  They won’t take out the trash without being told to do so.  They think I’m stupid (JOIN THE CLUB, kiddos!!).  When I make dinner, they bitch about what I make.  When I don’t make dinner and they have to fend for themselves, they bitch.  They fight.  With me.  With their dad.  With each other.  Can I say relentless again?  It’s my blog, so yes.  Yes I can.

Am I the only one who feels this way?  Nah.  Thankfully I have fellow mommas with whom I can share my doubt and vulnerability.  And, while none of them are likely to be anywhere as big of a head case as I am, we’re honest with each other about the struggles.  I also count myself as extremely fortunate to live in a generation who, at least on some level, values authenticity.  Reading The Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood  contributed more than I’d like to admit to me not completely losing my mind during the earliest stages of motherhood.  Janelle Hanchett’s Renegade Mothering consistently tells it like it is, and reminds me that, yes indeed, motherhood can be a real sonuvabitch and we can talk about it; and it doesn’t mean we love our children any less than anybody else. Seeing friends post something from Scary Mommy is frequently a balm for my anxious soul, as is reading completely relatable sagas in the Rants from Mommyland Facebook group.

Still, we could all do better in this regard.  Social media is of course a culprit, and I’m as guilty as anybody.  I post photos of food, coffee, cool places we’re visiting, adorable foster puppies, my kids playing sports, and Chris and me wearing cheesey ass grins when we enjoy a concert or delicious meal together.  And, while I’m frequently self-deprecating enough to share pictures of mountains of laundry waiting to be folded, or overflowing trash cans or snotty text messages from my kids; the ratios of smiles to unfolded laundry one sees in my instagram feed is definitely misleading.  I don’t tell you about the foster pup pooping in the house.  Or the fight Chris and I probably had on the way to the concert.  Or the endless bickering between my kids as we were traveling to wherever I’m posting that pic from.

So, I’m telling you now.  Parenting is hard for me.  I feel like I’m doing it wrong 99.9% of the time.  No one in my family is easy to live with, and of them, I am the most difficult.  My family’s day to day life is chaotic.  We are messy, in every sense of the word.  I apologize for every time I’ve led you to believe otherwise.

And yet, despite everything you read here, I’m unspeakably grateful.  Don’t ask me to explain how it is that such angst and gratitude can reside in the same being, because I’m certain I’ll never understand it.

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All Smiles, All the Time. #Bullshit