I have no idea what you are talking about. I am perfect and so is my kid”.
Imagine you are a new mom and you are having a hard time. You have a great husband and baby, but you can’t stop crying 24/7. When you confide to your mom, she doesn’t know what to do with you. Your husband seems scared of you. When you mention how you feel to some of your friends, they act like you are weird. Because of this, you are too embarrassed to ask any more friends for support or understanding. You take your freak self to your OB/GYN to get help. Of course he understands. He said that he sees this all the time. He helps you and you start to feel normal again.
Fast forward a year and that same child cannot eat solid food, crawl, or walk. Your doctors, friends, parents, and anyone else who is around cannot help you. Some even have strong opinions as to what you should do and what you are doing wrong. You blame yourself and take your freak self and your child to the pediatrician. She has never seen this before so we go to doctor after doctor until we find out what is wrong. He starts to eat solid foods and you start to feel less freakish.
Fast forward a few more years and that same child is not doing well in school. He cannot remember his homework, books, or anything for that matter. You try everything, from kindness to severe punishment. Nothing works. Once again, all the mothers and women around you have strong ideas as to why your child is such a mess. According to everyone else, you baby him, you don’t spank him enough. he is lazy, etc. You take your self-professed freakness to many doctors and you find out your child has ADD. He gets help and things get better. By now, you know you are a freak and your child may be too and you are absolutely fine with that.
After a few more years, after an enormous amount of research, effort, and therapy, he is doing really well. His mom is doing better too, but she is a little scarred. That freaky mom is me and that sweet freaky boy is my son, Jesse.
All this is coming out right now because I had a friend come into my office today, defeated and crying. She is at her wit’s end with her child. He is not doing well and she feels like a failure. Her friends and her mom are just making her feel worse. They are being judgmental and it is not helping the situation. Of course, I went into my “Let me tell you my story” spiel. I hoped it helped. After we talked, I got to thinking about the needlessness of all that suffering.
Although I experienced a lot of negativity and judgment, I also had a lot of support from others. I realize some people may not have all that support. Support or no support, the last thing they need is someone to make them feel worse. That is why I am writing this.
Ladies, why are we often not more forthcoming with the crappy parts of parenthood? Why do we act as if we are constantly competing with all other mothers? Why do we have to keep up a perfect front when things aren’t perfect at home? What do we think we will accomplish by appearing perfect? If we all appeared more human, I think we all would be a lot better off. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we should be yelling our personal business from the rafters but, I also think we shouldn’t pull the Superwoman act constantly. It’s fake and annoying. More importantly, it builds a wedge between moms (the LAST thing we need!).
I distinctly remember confiding to a few people when I had post-partum depression and I was feeling down and defective. I didn’t know that was what I had, but I knew something wasn’t right. You would have thought I was speaking a foreign offensive language for the reactions I received. So many people acted like I was a leper. I received a lot of the “Poor you. That’s never HAPPENED to me” speech. I could handle it. I’m a big girl. It was hard but it was really hard when I found out some of those people DID know what I was talking about. They just didn’t want to admit that their mother, sister, friend, or that they had had it. Although, no one should admit they had depression if they do not feel comfortable revealing that, but don’t feign ignorance and act like it was some freak disease that started with me.
I am also perplexed by the same people who act as if their child is the only child on earth who is without flaws. My son Jesse is brilliant but he has flaws! He has quite a few but no more than your average boy. I don’t run out and tell the world that my boy is flawed but I will not deny that he has a problem when he does. If a mom is crying and struggling and comes to me with a problem with her child and I recognize what she is going through, I am going to support her! I may not air all my issues but I will not deny knowledge of its existence. I will not act like my family is perfect and has not been sullied by any messy issues. Every family has issues and sometimes they need help. Duh!
We, as women, have to stop being enemies to each other and start being support for each other. I think we need more support than men do. We are stupid if we don’t because it seems like parenthood gets more difficult and complicated by the day. If you don’t need support right now, you will one day.
I am making a pledge today. I promise not to lie and act like I am perfect. Will you?