I crave authenticity like a scary addictive drug. I need deep relationships, and I need people to understand me.
And I bet you do, too.
But for whatever reason, it seems my fellow moms are particularly vulnerable to making everything look tidy and perfect to the outside world. We’d rather look all put-together than admit flaws or tell stories that may help others relate. Why? Because we worry that the stories may make us look bad. The truth may make us look bad.
But hear me out for just a second, will you? Maybe these stories about your less-than-perfect moments — your strange idiosyncrasies, and that time your kid hadn’t bathed for five days — maybe they are the stuff of real connection. The relatable things that make you authentic and bring you closer to others on a deeper level.
Too often we only catch glimpses of each other’s lives through a filter; like a series of carefully selected photos, framed and cropped to perfection, with a warm, glowing hue placed over them. A perfect image of what appears to be a perfect existence. As we all know, comparing anyone’s well maintained online life, or even an individual’s in-person public persona to your real, messy, glorious life is never a good idea.
Be an authentic friend. Come as you are. Tell me the real stuff. Because I crave it, and because the rest of the world doesn’t seem to be providing that. Authenticity is vulnerability; and without that, a relationship can’t be meaningful. To anyone.
Yes, send me a picture of the new home you and your partner are building. But also let me in on the fact that your husband always wanted a big family and a big house because growing up he was lonely as an only child.
Let me celebrate the birth of your twins with you. But tell me also if you’re feeling afraid; that you often worry you’re not equipped to handle more than one. Let me know what I can do to help you juggle.
Call me when you are at the end of your rope. Let your kid scream in the background; don’t even bother sitting them down with a Daniel Tiger and candy bribe. Let it all hang out.
Feel free to post pictures of the beautiful bouquet of flowers that your husband sent to work. But remember to text me the hilarious story of why he’s apologizing.
Don’t pretend to have a messy house just because you think it’s more relatable. If you’re a neat freak, fly that flag proudly. (Same goes if you’re the polar opposite.)
Let’s sit and have coffee, laugh about how your kid won’t stop pooping at preschool, and commiserate over how this parenting gig is way harder than anyone said it would be.
Sometimes this is why I crave my best friend from high school. Because, at this point, there are no secrets, and I can start a story in the middle. And maybe I’m not alone there. In fact, I often think that’s why a lot of people never venture too far past the familiar friendships they created at an early age. But that’s not really fair to new friends, or to ourselves. We might miss the opportunity to know more people on deeper levels — a chance to expand our circle and worldview.
I had that chance recently, when I met a new mom friend I’d seen around town, but never really taken the time to know. We’d crossed paths so many times in the past year — at story time at the library, the zoo, and even local playgrounds — but never really connected. Sure, we’d had the surface-level “mom conversations” before (I vaguely recall something about preschool enrollment and our kid’s crazy antics), but a few weeks ago I noticed her at the mall play area. She was crying.
“Are you okay?” I asked, expecting the standard response of “Oh, I’m fine.”
But instead, she opened up to me, pouring her heart out about how she and her husband had been trying to have another baby for several years, and it just wasn’t going as planned. To make matters worse, an elderly woman had just advised her to “get going on Baby No. 2 before you run out of time.”
As we sat there, I let her talk. I let her cry. And I listened. She needed that, after all.
But then we talked (and talked, and talked). What started off as a chance meeting spun into a meaningful conversation around a painful and difficult topic, bringing us closer than I ever would have thought. And you know what happened? We each gained a new, authentic friend in the process. In every friendship, someone has to take the authenticity dive first, and I was really grateful that she did.
Maybe we could all stand to turn off our photo filters a little more often and let the world view us just as we are — however vulnerable that makes us feel.
Let’s wear our hearts on our sleeves; be authentic and sincere; and listen and look for others who are trying to do the same.More On