I do not understand the parent pollyannas, who only extol their children’s amazing feats and qualities, painting this picture of domestic perfection and leaving out the daily disasters edited out of their filtered social media posts. Why groom the reality of sibling fights, whining, and mess making? If parenting isn’t hard, then surely you must not be doing it right. I said “no” at least 200 times today, to crackers for breakfast, to pop for lunch, to gumball machines, to French fries, to extra tv time, to video game rentals, etc. My main job was to stand on the border of healthy behaviors and deny, deny, deny. It was not fun. I occasionally gave in, like when my son nearly cried because I did not want to take our heaping grocery cart through the self checkout. After that half hour endeavor, I couldn’t bring myself to go through the receipt to see how many items were scanned multiple times or not at all.
This is real life, and thinking back on the day, I cannot help but laugh. Now while I cannot help the occasional humble brag about my amazing children, I am much more comfortable ranting about the mayhem and exhaustion of motherhood. Where I grew up, it was a cultural norm to share daily dramas and our own flaws with humor. We did not gush over each other or write about our fabulous life on social media.
My friends and I came up with the term “the best awful.” Now, this was applied to stupid adolescent/early 20s evenings of drinking too much and dealing with young people dramas, romantic and uncategorized. However, I think it is a term that can be applied to many outings with children as well. From spontaneous hugs to whining outbursts, you never know if you will be discussing the shapes of clouds or picking up a child off the floor of the sporting goods store. Your day will be both awful and wonderful and, most importantly, full.
When I think back to my younger years and the culture of my home and school, I wonder why we chose dry humor and sarcasm over gratitude and cheerleading. Looking back, it was almost as if we were superstitious and feared the naming of good things would cause them to disappear. I still have a hard time sharing good news or flattering photos. It’s much easier to share a picture of myself with a facial mask looking like Hannibal Lector than a professional headshot.
Perhaps it is because the hard moments are the ones that challenge us and make us grow. They are the unsung character-building heroes behind the final posed shots. I am not “a natural” at motherhood. I enjoy solitude and silence too much. However, every day I am able to overcome my low points of emotional exhaustion and rally for one more tickle fight.