humanity and tender hearts ftw…

August 21, 2012

Two articles, one blog post and 2 podcasts came through my feed and inbox this week, all discussing the subject of mommy guilt. I sort of cringe every time I even hear or see the word mommy coming from anyone but a 3 year old. It feels condescending, who knows why but it does to me.

Pretty much all mothers on the planet want the same thing, to love their children well. Everyone has different interpretations on what that looks like but at the bottom is love. Holding that together with other women, arm in arm, can be super powerful but there are moments when it can become so divisive. We care about this job so deeply, it is primal and anytime primal is part of the equation- shit gets real on every level.

I listened to each story, read each article thinking some of it sounded downright crazy and in the next moment nodding my head along with the mom spilling her guts like we were in church together.  At the root of lots of mommy guilt seems to be that bitch Comparison, she messes with everyone’s head and leaves us all feeling alone.


She rolls in when we are tired, at one fragile moment and BAM! …or even when we don’t see her coming at all. The problem is she asks us to pull apart each part of ourselves and the other mother. We hold tight to the parts comparison wants us to see and not the whole person. It dupes us into thinking we must have it all, be it all to be enough, to love well.

She gives no power to the diversity of our individual parenting superpowers, she gives no power to the gift of our humanity.The truth is we all hold a parenting superpower. …and we need each others.

The blogging mother that does beautiful projects and activities may reign supreme creating memories but may also struggle with unlocking other parts of her kid. …because we all do. Her heart may drop at the idea of her teenage daughter wanting a nose ring. She knows preschoolers, she knows how to set a breath taking table with all the right foods but she may need a sister, a mother to get her through a different stage of growing. And you? You hate to sit on the floor and play with little kids but you can rock a nose ring purchase, and you feel her daughter’s teenage style, you see her rad independence.

Maybe we don’t have to compare our triumph moment to another’s? Maybe we can we all have the one thing that makes us the shit to our kids? …and maybe we can send Jimmy over to the rocket birthday party complete with eco-friendly homemade rocket kits and color coordinated m&m’s and then take her Lenny with us to the park while he climbs to the top of the jungle gym that gives his mother a heart attack. …and smile and cheer for his accomplishment.

And while I tell myself all these lovely things about fighting comparison and the village working together, I am still left with my own haunting inadequacies, the places someone else just can’t pick up my slack, the place where I will fail my children. Because I do, because I will.

This place held such space in my heart because I was already so uncomfortable with my humanity. How do I reconcile THAT?

One spill session to my sister years ago and many more since then revealed some truth I still hold tightly to on bad days.

“Patience, perfect mothers, the ones that never allow their kids to see their humanity raise assholes.” she declared in between the next bite of yogurt.

“WHAT?! What are you talking about?!” I replied.

“They are the sons that forget to call their mothers on her birthday because they have no idea she is a person with her own needs and feelings. They think she’s just fine,  together, they just never knew, she never showed them.” she said.

Every time we screw up or fall short or have to apologize we make space for our kids to see us, to really see us and practice the same compassion and unconditional love we have offered them time and time again. And even greater, my friend Lisa reminds me how our mistakes and all the ways we go about making them right create a safe space for our kids to do the same. Because they do, because they will.

Can we all just have a huge party of our strengths? I’ll send my preschoolers to your activity day and you can send your teenagers to me when they hate you…. we can be in it together in all our goodness, in all our mess.

You are enough, let humanity and tender hearts rule…maybe our kids will too.

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11 Responses to “humanity and tender hearts ftw…”

  1. donna koch Says:

    You ROCK…


  2. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Love to read your posts, they always make me think and I love it. Your sister is right if we don’t let our kids see that we mess up but keep trying to do better they will just think we are robots with have no feelings.


  3. Yes, comparison robs everyone who tangles with her. 🙂 on another note, There is a Beautiful tradition in The Babemba tribe of South Africa, when someone makes a mistake (as we ALL do) everyone gathers around that person in the center of the village and tells them all the Good things they have done. Let’s do that for each other HERE> HUUUUG 🙂 ❤

  4. Annie Delgado Says:

    I love your posts. I wish I had read them when I was a young mother. As for the Babemba tribe tradition, that would be something our world needs more of, more praise than criticisim.

  5. tam Says:

    here, here, I’ll second that.

  6. amy Says:

    One of the best lessons I’ve taught myself lately about mothering is this: I realize that the better I mother myself, the better mother I am to them. They learn how to take care of themselves by my example. It was a big day when that lightbulb fully lit. And yes, there is no room in those statements for comparison. Motherhood is as unique as us all.


  7. Ima gonna dropped mine off to you tonight– he is 6 going on 16—— I’ll take a girl who likes nail polish and glitter in exchange

  8. Jess Says:

    Amen, sister! I’m all about letting my kids know that I’m human, too, especially when it comes to admitting my shortcomings and saying I’m sorry. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping against hope that it seeps down into them, helps nurture the compassion inside of them, and that this matters much more than the times I screw stuff up.

    I love the idea of being sister parents. A friend and I talk about being a safe place for each other’s kids when they’re teens, the benefits of having a grownup who isn’t your mom, who has known you since you were little, who will listen to you without lecturing when you really need something that your own parents can’t provide.

  9. Hilary Says:

    MY GOD! You nailed it. I wish I could have read this when my daughter was young…now that she’s a teenager, she sees lots of my weaknesses and loves me anyway.

  10. Brenda Says:

    Well said, Patience…it’s like you can see right into the very heart of situations…sort it out…then explain it to the rest of us!! You are so lovely…and I love your heart! I’m right in the midst of some major inadequacies…and comparison mothering…this is so darned timely for me. thank you

  11. kim lepe Says:

    i love this SO MUCH!!! thank you for writing it. you. just. nailed it. ❤


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