One thing that has proven to be so elevating for me is to share my experiences, present and past, in the most authentic way possible. I spent so much time in my first few years of motherhood trying to keep a smile on and show everyone that I could be supermom and only sharing the good days on my social media. Not only was it incredibly hard to do this but it was also just fake. I’m not saying there weren’t good days, good weeks, or good months–because there were! But there were also times that weren’t. During those times I refused to let anyone know that I was exhausted because my son wouldn’t sleep in his own bed. I wouldn’t tell anyone else that I was stressed out daily because my milk supply was barely enough to keep my son fed for the first 6 months of his life. I certainly didn’t want anyone to know the anger (now what I know to be “mom rage”) that I felt on a regular basis. Although I loved my son and my husband dearly, I was struggling to love myself. I was relying on my husband and family to tell me what a great mom I was but even still when they reassured me of the great job I was doing I couldn’t believe it. All of this was going on in my head but I couldn’t let anyone know.
It’s only been recently, since I’ve had my second son, that I have realized the power of authenticity. I think the reason before I couldn’t allow myself to be completely authentic is because in order to be authentic you must also become vulnerable. And vulnerability can be a hard pill to swallow. This is what I’ve been working on in myself. Vulnerability. I recently wrote down all of my personal goals for myself–something I have NEVER done before. One of my personal goals was to stop worrying about others opinion. This is incredibly hard for me. If you know me you may be surprised by that since I’ve often been heard saying “I don’t care” or “Oh well” when referring to someone’s opinion. But if you REALLY know me you’re not surprised. My closest friends and family know I definitely do care. I’ve always been scared to be vulnerable. What if someone takes advantage of my vulnerability? What if someone makes fun of it? What I’ve decided is if someone does then that is on them. If their heart can handle that, then that’s fine with me and not for me to worry about.
What I’ve noticed since I decided to be more authentic is that other millennials are the ones who are the most supportive. Other mamas who are in the same walk of life as me not only get it but also encourage it. On the other hand, friends and family of older generations seem to be quite uncomfortable with it. The generational differences are quite clear when reading through comments on my posts. This totally makes sense to me as I know the norm for older generations was to keep your struggles to yourself. I think Miranda Lambert’s song, Mama’s Broken Heart, probably explains it the best: “I can hear her now sayin’ she ain’t gonna have it, Don’t matter how you feel, it only matters how you look…gotta keep it together even when you fall apart“. I wouldn’t say this is how my mother raised me, but definitely what living in the South taught me. Gotta keep it together even when you feel like you’re falling apart.
But why? Why does it matter to be authentic? Why does it matter that I let my friends and family know that my life isn’t perfect? Simple. Because we cannot help ourselves or any other person by being unauthentic. As a matter of fact, it only makes our lives harder. Forcing a perfect picture by begging at my son to smile after he’s been screaming bloody murder and post to Instagram with the hashtag #blessed (insert rolling eyes emoji here). Instead I’m committing to showing it all. All the good and all the not so good. Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe there are some things that should remain private and that is for you (and your spouse) to decide. But if we’re having a hard day I’m not going to post fake pictures and pretending like we don’t have hard days. Now I’m committing to not faking it. I’ll share my pictures with bags under my eyes because my four month old is going through a sleep regression.
I’m not saying I’m not #blessed, because I am! I am so thankful for everything that the Lord has provided to me and my family. I am so thankful to be the mama to my two sweet boys. But are they always perfect angels? Um, no. Am I always a perfect mama? Um, definitely no. Is that okay? 100% YES. You can only help others when they trust you and the best way to earn someone’s trust is to be completely honest and authentic with them.
“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” Maya Angelou