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The Highlight Reel?


Last week, I attended the baby shower of one of my closest friends (hi Emma!!) … Shortly after it started, I connected with one of the older women there, and we had the most beautiful conversation.

She expressed to me her regret of not having more children, the feelings of raising a small child (and how we can guide their development in a world full of stimulation), and we talked at length about how parenting/life has become this thing that can only be celebrated. We talked about the “highlight reel”.

The highlight reel existed long before social media (think: holiday newsletters or keeping up with the Joneses), but now with social media, we are put face to face with everyone’s highlights. I haven’t showered in two days, but there’s another mom with hair & makeup done, doing yoga (in her size 2 pants), with her perfectly behaved baby in a ring sling. I just want to take a shower.

This new friend and I agreed that this way of living is bullshit. She brought tears to my eyes when she told me that parenting was the hardest thing she’d ever done … She said it was so, so rewarding, but it was hard work, and society makes us feel like we can’t express that. It might mess up the highlight reel. Like I said, I felt hot tears forming in my eyes … it is hard. Hearing another mom say it out loud was so refreshing.

While I feel like I transitioned into motherhood really naturally and easily, it’s not been without tears, stress, and frustration. Last week, my toddler had a high fever for 5 days, she was diagnosed with a double ear infection, my house is really messy, and it’s one of those weeks when I can’t stop thinking about money and my work schedule. I’m constantly feeling guilt when it comes to being behind on work, and then using “mom” time to check emails and get close to catching up. I wanted this baby so, so badly, and sometimes I get so frustrated that she won’t nap/stop crying/eat/listen. When Jim texts me to say he’s on his way home, I think, “FINALLY!! I need some support!” … My shirt is usually covered in food/snot, I’ve said, “Alba, please don’t climb on that.” 8,000 times that day, and I am just so, so tired from parenting and fitting in work when I can.

My Instagram/Facebook isn’t showing that part of my life. It’s showing yummy meals, flowers, and a happy baby. Why are we so afraid to show the negative? Personally, I feel like a guilty asshole if I complain about parenting. When I see friends struggling to conceive, or waiting for their adoptions to come through, I feel completely selfish for ever complaining. I am so, so thankful for my family, so posting about our struggles with sleep or my deep emotional scar regarding my breastfeeding issues just feels wrong. I parent with a grateful heart, and I hope no one sees it as complaining as much as just expressing my feelings about what parenting is really like some days. Some days, bedtime comes too quickly, but other days, there isn’t enough wine in the world.

All I know is that my heart felt lighter after this conversation. This woman made my day. My feelings were validated. Hearing from a mom who raised her child in the 70’s/80’s (before all the tech) echo the same thoughts I’m trying to process? It was golden. I actually really, really love parenting. I love my baby … every single day is more fun and more full of joy than the last. It’s better than I could have dreamed. It’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And, in those moments when I’m feeling defeated, it’s nice to know that there’s another mom out there (or another woman who has been through it) feeling the same way: “I absolutely love this wild ride, but shit, that was a long day!!”.

I am going to have lunch with her in a few weeks, and I hope I can tell her about the gift she gave me.

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