Lately lots of my friends have been joining me in the over-40 crowd, and I've been thinking about the differences between how I navigate the world as a 40-something vs. a 30-something. When Tweak was born, I was 31, and for Tink, I was 33. I launched into the stay-home mom world with an infant and a "spirited" toddler, and I've noted for the record that the combo completely kicked my ass. At the time, I would have been horrified to admit that I frequently considered faking my death, changing my name, and moving somewhere nobody would ever find me. For some reason, it was always Arkansas, where I've never been, though I'm told the Ozarks are beautiful.
I determined that I must be a freak. My work-outside-the-home mom friends, who I'd left to stay home, always pined for their babies, as I did when I was one of them. If they were staying home, THEY wouldn't have a psychotic break while trying to poop at Target and count the minutes until their children's bedtime because they weren't sure how much more of this they could take. They would be loving on their kids, making muffins and singing with their adoring offspring, and scrapbooking their precious memories during naptime. What was my excuse?
Eventually, I learned that although I might have been teetering off the rails for awhile there, I wasn't alone. The vast majority of us have been stressed-out Target poopers at one point or another - that's the norm. The moms who act as if their kids radiate sunshine and never push their buttons are usually very heavily medicated, or else they're one leaky sippy cup away from completely losing their minds.
Here's my take. Walking around trying to maintain the Perfect Mommy facade is the emotional equivalent of wearing Spanx. Yes, you can pull off the look, but it's not very comfortable after awhile, and you long to get home and peel them off. But when everything is hanging out again, you feel bad about the way you really look. Isn't it better to just accept who you are, and realize that you are exactly the mother your kids need? I've found that since I stopped worrying about what my parenting looks like to the outside world, I've been much more effective and much happier. Sure, sometimes my imperfections are obvious to the world, but at least I'm authentic.