The Problem with Authenticity in Motherhood

During the back to school frenzy on Facebook I saw a post from an acquaintance. It was a picture of her standing in front of a giant chalkboard. She’s wearing a comfy tank top and behind her are the words. “Moms First Day of Freedom.”

 

I realized that her post was a riff on all the back to school posts. The ones with the pictures of kids holding up chalkboards that list all their favorite things. You’ve seen them on Pinterest, I know you have!

 

Here’s what this woman’s chalkboard said….

It lists her favorite summer memory as “today.” You know, the day her kids are out of the house and back at school.

She lists the things she loves – “vodka, babysitters, and naps.”

Next are her goals – “sleep more and eat less.”

And what does she want to do when she grows up? “I want to sleep!”

 

My first reaction was to judge her. I mean, how awful of her to want a break from her kids? She’s actually celebrating being away from them! I mean, who does that? Only those awful public school parents.

 

A homeschool saint would never even think those things, right?

Wrong.

 

This homeschool year I have just not found my motivation. I haven’t been excited or inspired. Never have I so longingly watched the giant yellow bus screech past my window.

 

Our first few weeks felt more like World War III with all the sibling rivalry, complaining, whining, fighting, and arguing. And no matter how early I went to bed, I woke up even more tired the next day.

 

Honest moment here: I would enjoy a break from my kids. I would enjoy the quiet, the empty house- the chance to clean and read and run errands all by myself. I would enjoy the huge responsibility of their education to rest at least partially on someone else’s shoulders.

 

In that way, we’re not that different. I can relate to her feelings of freedom.

And on the other hand, I’m saddened at that thought.

 

I feel like lately there’s been a trend to be more authentic and real. We’re supposed to be honest.

But I think the pendulum has swung too far the other way.

 

It’s not only ok to admit that motherhood isn’t all sunshine and rainbows; it’s actually encouraged.

Now our kids and our struggles are the brunt of our jokes. When moms get together it’s often a competition to see who has the most “real” and “honest” stories of parenting difficulties.

 

It’s that “one-up syndrome” of who can share the most horrific stories, and that’s the mom who wins.

 

I’m not really sure when it became funny to try to prove to the world that motherhood is the hardest job out there.

 

It is – it most definitely is. But we don’t need to shame our kids or swap terrifying stories to prove that we mom just as hard as everyone else.

No. I think it’s time that we remember that we’re raising tiny humans who are the future generations.

 

How can we raise them to love others more than themselves when we publically malign them and loudly denounce our jobs as their parents – showing them that we actually love ourselves more than we enjoy their company?

 

We want our children to be compassionate and kind, yet we trample on their feelings in the name of being authentic and having a good laugh.

 

It’s ok to admit that this parenting job is not easy. Some days I do want a break (and I should definitely carve out some time for myself and my spouse – there’s no shame in date night or self-care).

 

But maybe we should be mindful of the little eyes that are watching us and the little hearts which are easily hurt by our words and actions – even if we meant everything in jest.

 

I can relate to this mom in her struggles. But I also know that I want to raise kids who respect others. In order to do this I must first respect my children as the impressionable and tender souls that they are, remembering that their strong character or even their lack of character is learned directly from me.

 

Further Reading

5 Questions to Ask When Talking to Another Homeschool Mom

Evaluating Your Time as a Homeschool Mom

Dear Mom Who Thinks She is a Failure

When Homeschool Moms are Mean

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