Last week, I was getting my hair colored — a staggeringly regular event now that my brunette locks seem determined to turn gray — by my friend who runs a hair salon out of her home. She recently had her third child and her oldest is 5 (in other words, she's seriously in the mom weeds), yet she seemed totally in control, back at work, looking beautiful, and sipping on an iced coffee she didn't seem to need that badly. No dark circles in sight; in fact, she looked pretty rested. "How's Summer going so far?" she asked while we waited for my hair to process, and never one to gloss over the truth, I went straight for honesty.
B*tching is a gift we give other moms that says, "I'm not perfect, and neither are my kids, so you and yours don't have to be either."
"It's been the longest week of my life," I replied, referring to the seven days since my kids' schools were released for Summer break. "Last night at 7:30, I actually squealed because I was so happy it was close to bedtime. I've never been so tired, and I've never yelled at my kids more than I have in the last few days." "Oh, thank God," she said. "I screamed at my kids so much yesterday that my son told me that I was scaring him . . . twice."
And the mom b*tch sesh continued. We spent the next 20 or so minutes one upping each other with our most heinous mom crimes, all completely understandable, of course, because our kids are gorgeous little monsters who seem determined to ruin every fun activity and Instagram-able moment we create for them. Of course, seven years into this whole parenting thing, this is far from my first time venting to a fellow mom. In fact, I try to let out my frustrations about my kids' behavior and my own less-than-perfect responses as often as possible (maybe even too much). I've actually forged incredibly strong female friendships on this act alone.
In my humble opinion, motherhood simply can't be survived unless you're willing to open up to other moms — moms who understand and will validate your experiences as "normal" and maybe even see your kid's public meltdown and raise you a diaper explosion — about just how hard it is. And in today's overly social-media conscious world, it's more important than ever.
Look at your mom friends' Instagram or Facebook pages, and you're likely to believe that they all live in worlds filled with smiling children wearing matching dresses and adorable bows, overachieving kids winning dance competitions and soccer games, and well-rested babies happily playing on beaches after pleasant four-hour plane rides. And because your house is a disaster, your kids can't even seem to get through a trip to Target without having a temper tantrum, and you're pretty sure your 4-year-old son can't count past 10, you feel less than.
And that's when the b*tch sesh comes in, because it's only during those vulnerable, honest moments — maybe fueled by a drink or three, but maybe not — that we realize that we all have bad parenting days, that we're all worried that our kids are too anxious or too emotional or just too hard to deal with, and that we're all overwhelmed by the impossible task of both loving our children immensely and kind of wanting to move far, far away from them for a month or two.
Only when we hear our own struggles parroted back to us by fellow mothers who understand exactly what we're going through do we realize that parenting isn't just hard for us; it's hard for everyone. And that fact makes it a little easier to forgive our children when they draw on the walls, freak out because their cup isn't the right color, or refuse to go to sleep — and to forgive ourselves when we aren't the perfectly patient mothers we once imagined we could be. It's all OK, because we're in it together. B*tching is a gift we give other moms that says, "I'm not perfect, and neither are my kids, so you and yours don't have to be either." In fact, please tell me just how not perfect they are.