A friend who I’ve long adored and admired for her ability to maintain her sacred social life in the midst of motherhood, sent the sweetest text on my birthday:
“Happy National Holiday! I am so thankful for our friendship. U amaze me at how easy u make everything look. U are kicking ass at 33! I know this year will be even better for u!”
I put down my phone, smiled and had a little bit of a laugh. Isn’t that something … Just when you feel like you’re drowning, someone pops by to admire your breaststroke.
Of course, I didn’t respond. If I’d sent a text back, it would have been something dreadfully playful, pathetic and truthful like … “LOL, if by ‘easy’ you mean ‘chaotic like a kangaroo with her hair on fire’ you’re right on target, sister-friend!” or, “Bwahahahaha … That’s me! Mayor of crazytown, population 6.” (I always feel like I should count the dog.)
Because that is my truth. Regardless of what it looks like through the Instagram lens, honestly, do any of us ever actually feel like we’ve got this shit down? Is there ever a night when we crawl into bed, put in our bite plate (just me?), look at the clock and think, “Good heavens above, I freaking made it,” just in time to hear a knob turn and a little voice reach out of the doorway and down the hall for you?
It doesn’t matter how intentional you are the night before – go ‘head and lay out those clothes, mama … pack that lunch, girl … – those unpredictable little creatures in your house are still going to fall asleep on your brand new chair and pee like a horse hooked up to a hose. You’re still going to get asked to give a 20-minute presentation at the Monday morning staff meeting on Friday at 2 o’clock. There will still be carry-ins and all-about-me poster boards and bake sales and smelly vomit and dry cleaning you forgot to pick up.
If it ever looks easy, it’s because I am sparing you the saga of my microcosm. When we chat, I am giving you the highlight reel and leaving the messy parts on the cutting room floor. It might not earn high marks for transparency, though I’ll tell you if you ask, but it’s a helluva lot more enjoyable leaving out the tantrums and takeout than it is reliving the pandemonium play by play with someone who’s just trying to push off their own pandemonium. (At least when drinks aren’t involved. Over a couple of cocktails I’m spilling my shortcomings and preaching from the pulpit of failures and frustrations.) It’s like when you pass someone in the hall. “Hey! How are ya?” “Good! How are you?” “Good, thanks.” It’s all about sparing the messy parts. No one wants to hear, “Ah, shitty. My baby is cutting teeth and her ass is redder than a baby lobster, I’ve developed a tolerance to melatonin and I’m getting a zit that feels like a gunshot wound.” But, again, that is my truth.
And what of the text? I chalk it up to one woman telling another she’s killin’ it; even though that woman might know that the recipient of that text (me) rides the struggle bus most days. Sometimes we just need to clink our martini glasses, give each other a wink and acknowledge that the battle is real and, while we all have weak spots in our armor, at least we put up a good fight.