Some days, I feel like I’ve totally got this whole mom thing. There is a healthy, warm meal on the table. I totally Pinterested the crap out of Valentine’s Day. The kids are showing character or are scoring way higher than I ever did in school. I totally got this… for a moment.
But in reality, most days I actually feel like I am just getting by as a mom. I feel like the burden of my kids’ problems are hard. The perceptions and unspoken expectations of me as a mom get to me. Forget about the day to day to-do lists piling up that sometimes are just too much to bear. Raising five kids–many of them with significant mental health issues–is hard.
I have learned so much about therapy, psychiatrists and medication over the past couple of years. Too much, if you ask me. Schedules are difficult as one of my son’s is in Day Treatment and one of the others has a laundry list of appointments every week. The kids have their normal appointments, and so many people make comments like, “I don’t know how you do it,” or “You are amazing.” *Insert most sincere and grateful eye roll here.*
I don’t feel like I’ve got this. Maybe it puffs me up with pride for a moment, but then I am overwhelmed thinking of the way I yelled at my kid or the pressure I feel as a result of these comments. But then something happens.
I see Her.
The mom who is going through the impossible. I observe a mom at Target, tenderly caring for her child physically restricted to a chair. A mom who took her son into the doctor and now finds herself desperate for hope. One who extends grace to a friend who violated her trust. The days go by when I am completely absorbed in the custody battles divorce has left inevitable to those I love. A wife who lost her husband and needs to be strong for her kids. The countless situations that are unfathomable. These moms have it much harder than me.
Some days, when they are doing well and I am on a hard day, maybe mine is technically harder. Maybe there are people that would put me in the category of someone they think has a more difficult life. And while our lives are not a competition, these women–people who impress us with their strength–should help us to stop and be grateful.
Grateful for health. For time. The ability to be together. Even for rough seasons that remind us that things aren’t always impossible. Supportive husbands and kids that genuinely love each other are gifts. The friends and family that step in so I don’t have to be alone should be appreciated.
So instead of caring if my life is harder than yours, I’m going to choose to see you when you need me. When life is too much to bear. The days your life is harder than mine. I will see you. Feed you when your husband is sick. Share experiences with you when I think it may be helpful. Cry with you when someone hurt you. Show up when you don’t want to be alone. Pick up Colectivo on the way to visit with you after the baby is born. Do your laundry for you. I will find a way to show you I care.
I don’t have all the answers, but I do have something to offer you. Instead of comparing my life to yours, I choose to see you.