I have been a part of “mom culture” for about two years – and that’s two years enough to realize that mom culture can be competitive. Mom culture can be a hard place to make friends. Mom culture can sometimes be harsh on one another.
But I refuse to accept that. And you should too.
There has been this trend going around the past few years about vulnerability. We are called to share our real life. Like our REAL life. We are called to share who we really are in the day-to-day. We are called to not respond “good” every single time someone asks us how we are doing each day. We are to maybe post a 95% perfect picture on Instagram rather than the 110% picture-perfect snap of our daily life. If you aren’t familiar with this vulnerability movement, take 20 minutes to watch this TED talk by Brené Brown. It’s worth it. I saw this for the first time at a work event – and honestly had to hold back tears. This is a great movement.
But while I 1,000% agree with this push, I think we are missing an element of it within our mom culture and within our mom-friend communities. Ready for it? We are busy sharing our vulnerabilities and our own stories, but you know what we need more of? Seeing our friends in their exact places and building them up. Sometimes we get caught up taking care of our own lives, of our own problems, of our own day-to-day tasks that we forget to take a moment to tell our fellow mom friend, “Hey, you’re doing a great job.” People are slowly warming up to this vulnerability trend – some of us (raises hand) faster than others. But some of us still hold our personal issues close to the chest. We aren’t sure if others can handle our problems. If others will judge our issues. But we all so badly need encouragement. We so badly need one another – fellow women in a similar walk in life – to tell us we’re doing OK. To tell us we are good moms. It’s one thing to hear it from your husband, but it’s a whole different thing to hear it from another mom – another person who knows exactly what you’re going through.
Let me tell a personal example because I relate best through stories.
I have been a mom for two years, and I wouldn’t have called myself the most natural “kid person” before having my son. My husband was unemployed during my maternity leave so I did not have the alone time with my baby in the beginning that most moms have… that time to bond and to build your confidence in caring for another human all by yourself. A year and a half into my son’s life, I quit my job and found myself at home – everyday – with my little boy. I finally had my daily alone time with my son and I found myself with a steep learning curve of how to handle this new lifestyle. Without getting into all the details, one of the hardest parts has been knowing if I am doing a good job.
At my corporate job, I would get feedback often on if I had done a great job or if I needed some improvement. I always knew where I stood. But at home? My kid just says, “Pickles! Lawn mower! Daniel Tiger!” which doesn’t exactly help me know how things are going. About four months into being a stay-at-home-mom, I had a good friend over that I hadn’t seen in months. Our little boys played together, we talked, we ate (many) donuts, and we drank coffee. It was a great time. Later that day, she sent me a text that probably appears so simple to an outsider – but to me it carried weight. She said, “Just want you to know that I saw so much confidence in you with being a mom today.” She saw me in the throws of motherhood – and knew all of my issues – and she built me up in a way I really needed.
It’s a simple story but I hope it encourages and inspires you to see the people in your life (let’s be honest…this should extend far beyond the mom community) and build them up! If you see her doing something great, tell her. There is no single person in this world that doesn’t like to hear a compliment, so put yourself out there (be vulnerable!) by encouraging someone else. We will all feel a little bit better.