Friday, February 10, 2012

Motherhood is Messy

I’ve never been one for the “Leave it to Beaver” family model. It doesn’t resonate with my personal experience of growing up in a large, loud, and moderately dysfunctional Italian American family. Like media portrayals of childbirth as quick, intense, and amazingly clean, visions of motherhood and its reality are often incongruous.

Motherhood is messy. It’s filled with vomit and diapers, milk stains and runny noses. There are nighttime accidents and crayon on the walls. There are broken toys and seemingly insurmountable messes of play things – from dough and crayons, to itty bitty Legos™ that you wind up stepping on, over and over. There are messy tantrums, in public and private, and meltdowns too numerous to count. Being a parent isn’t a Hallmark moment, it’s a marathon. And just because it isn’t a smiling family portrait all – or even most – of the time, does not make you a bad parent.

Mothers are particularly hard on themselves. The “bad mommy” syndrome persists across generations. We feel guilty because our child didn’t devour our gourmet kale and organic salmon dinner and instead ate frozen French fries and burgers. We admonish ourselves for losing our patience as our kids throw teary, fist-pumping fits in the mall and wonder what we did wrong. We blame ourselves for each and every mistake – real or imagined – that we have made along the journey. We all need to lighten up.

If your motherhood journey is messy, celebrate it. Laugh at it. Embrace it. And forgive it – and yourself. We each do the best we can with the resources that we have at the moment – whether that means our physical and environmental tools (such as information and finances), or our emotional stores (think patience). Being part of a community is one of the ways we begin to acknowledge the challenges of motherhood. It is the ultimate reality show. Seeing, knowing, feeling, and sensing that you are not the only one who has piles of dirty laundry or a hard time getting yourself into the shower is reaffirming. Parenting challenges you and stretches you. It should – and it ain’t always pretty. Knowing that you are not alone (and are not crazy) gives you the inner strength to continue. And having the opportunity to share your travails with other parents helps us all put things in perspective.

At Holistic Moms, we welcome parents from all walks of life and strive to create a supportive environment where we can connect, share, and learn. We honor the mess and the ups and downs. It is all part of the journey.


  1. NO kidding...when I tucked in my four year old the other night for bed, I noticed she had written her name in inkpen on her sheets. She did it right under where her pillows go as if to stake her real estate. It was all I could do not to laugh...if I were four that would be so fun to do, right? I simply told her it wasn't okay to write on anything other than paper. She burst into tears with no change in tone or action because she really got that it wasn't okay.

    Now, when I went to wash the sheets I hadn't the heart to scrub it out. So instead I washed it in hot water so now Annie's sheets are Annie's sheets!


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