When I was in my early 20’s, I was home from Africa for a wedding and I slipped on the Minnesota ice while running to “rescue” the bride from a car full of guys that had “stolen” her. It was an embarrassing enough moment, but it gets even more embarrassing because I was wearing a skirt and I am pretty sure I flashed an entire car full of my husband’s friends. After flashing them, I had to continue on to steal the bride back and get her married… because the show must go on! It is funny now, but I remember when it happened I didn’t like anyone re-telling the story. I was not ok with an imperfect and mistake-laden version of myself being shared around.
Sometimes, living real life means standing before one another with all the fluff stripped away and saying, “Hi. This is me, and I just flashed a car full of guys.” That’s a tough task when the social norm of motherhood is perfection. Motherhood is full of plates we must spin. Plates that are packed full of illusions like perfection and charades such as happiness-equals-two-kids-and-a-dog. I think it’s made worse by the “perfect” lives we see our “friends” (that we haven’t had a conversation with since high school) displaying on social media sites.
What is the worst that would happen if we dropped those plates a little and risking both judgment and true connection with those who are worthy of our stories? It is a proven fact that our silence breeds “aloneness.” As a mom, I think it’s important that we move past the illusion of perfect kids and perfect lives and sometimes tell each other, heaven forbid, that we need a little help and support. I don’t always have it all together, why do I often think I have to look like I do? It’s not like any one of us has ever done this before. Motherhood is hard, and sometimes so is life. We all have bad days. We all make mistakes. We do our true selves a dis-service when we believe that every mother around us “has it all together.” Why? Because we tuck our true selves away, out of site, to make room for the illusion of having it all together.
I realize that I am describing real bravery here, because leaning in and opening up to motherhood and life as it is… messy and real… is an act full of vulnerability and courage. It leaves us out of control in so many ways, but it also gives our true selves the space to show up and foster healthy connections in a world full of fake social media statuses.
Recently, another mom told me a story that changed my life. It was her story about a struggle I shared. The struggle is much deeper than, “I sometimes slip on ice in front of my husband’s friends” by the way. She dared to trust me and in that trust there was one solid gold truth… I AM NOT ALONE. I am so grateful for friends who risk moments of authenticity. Moments of true connection, where nothing is perfect but everything is refreshingly real. Brené Brown, in her book The Gifts Of Imperfection, describes the journey like this
“Autheniticty is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.
Choosing authenticity means
- cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable;
- exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and
- nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe we are enough.”
When we really see each other, in all our imperfect and brave mommy-ness, we can understand that motherhood is not about who is the best and most involved PTA mom or soccer mom or CEO mom or small business mom… it’s about connecting and journeying together and daring to show up with our true selves on that journey.
You are not alone.
Read more from Kristy at Long Miles Coffee Project. For daily updates of her adventures in Africa, be sure to follow her on Facebook, Twitter and especially Instagram. To buy Burundi coffee that aids the coffee farmers of Burundi, visit Dogwood coffee and order online.