If the parents of Instagram are to be believed, parenthood is a total cakewalk. Or at least a perfectly staged, stain-free world totally devoid of toddler tantrums (with lots and lots of meticulously-crafted Bento boxes). And everyone is oh-so-very #blessed.
But at least one mom out there isn’t putting on any airs.
Sarah Cottrell is the writer, Babble contributor, and newly-minted working mom of three behind the blog Housewife Plus. And some days — while knee-deep in week-old laundry, round-the-clock breastfeeding, and screaming toddlers — she comes thisclose to losing her damn mind. (You know, just like the rest of us.)
June 28 was one such day. In a post that’s swiftly going viral, Cottrell took to Facebook to share a raw and unfiltered selfie in the midst of what was proving to be a parenting day for the books.
“This is me. Right now. Trying not to pull my hair out,” her post begins. “I have been trying to finish the laundry I started yesterday and do the dishes (we don’t have a dishwasher because I AM THE DISHWASHER.) My oldest son is bouncing off the walls (literally, there is a frigging dent in the wall), my middle wild child just bonked his head while spelunking in the linen closet and now has an ice pack on his developing egg, and the baby — pictured here — is either starting to teethe or is testing out the theory that if she screams loud enough and for long enough that I will actually cry. CRY.”
And if you thought that was honest, she was only getting started.
“Getting anything done in this house is dizzying,” Cottrell continues. “I haven’t showered, eaten, or even gotten dressed for that matter and it’s already after 2 pm. And you know what? I don’t feel #blessed in this moment. I feel frustrated and tired. But that’s what parenting is, right? It’s this crazy journey that is mostly rewarding but pock marked by sh*tty days like this one. These are the if-it-doesnt-kill-you kind of days. I file these moments away in my heart for when I need to remind myself that I am only one person. Like every other mom, I am trying my best to do this right. And I totally screw it up at least a dozen times a day.”
YEP — show of hands: How many mamas out there are still wearing yesterday’s PJs, haven’t run a comb through their hair in 24 hours, and are just trying to get through the day in one piece?
“I won’t ever color neatly inside the lines of motherhood,” Cottrell continues, “but I love my kids with all my heart. And right now while the sink is full of dirty dishes, at least one kid is whining, and I smell faintly of pee and spit up (don’t ask) that big feeling of love is all I got. And I call that a win.”
Cottrell tells Babble that she wrote the post after feeling totally overwhelmed one afternoon, before ultimately telling herself: “‘This is just one stupid frustrating day, get over it, woman!’ So I wrote that post.” But in the process, she spoke volumes about the day in, day out struggles of parenthood that face us all — which are often at odds with the images of perfection we see projected across social media.
“The whole #blessed thing just irritates the ever-loving life out of me,” she shares. “No parent is perfect. I mean, don’t people know that everything online is filtered? My life is a huge mess, literally: there are piles of laundry everywhere, my kids probably need a bath, I can’t remember if I brushed my teeth today (or yesterday?) and what is this thing called ‘me time’ in which I get to be relaxed and beautiful and sh*t? I get that the #blessed is supposed to be a reminder of why kids are indeed a blessing, but the irony and humble bragging with which it’s so often used makes me want to roll my eyes.”
Cottrell says she’s pretty surprised by just how many moms have left comments of support so far, saying “me too!” and offering her a virtual hug.
“I don’t generally get a lot of reaction on my Facebook page unless I post a controversial essay or viral video,” she admits, “so this was a nice interaction with other parents.”
But most of all, she says these “hard days” remind her of just how much her own parents went through while raising her — and it’s given her a newfound respect for what they went through.
“I feel like calling my mom and apologizing profusely for ever being loud, sassy, bratty, rambunctious, and/or annoying,” she says. “Parenting IS HARD. [But] no matter how many times I yell that in all caps, no one can really know how difficult it is to be a parent until you are one.”
Truer words have never been spoken.