Something happened to me at a party (yes I know I was at an actual party) the other weekend I can't stop thinking about. As the night and the open bar wore on two separate women came up to me at separate times and confessed a couple of things about how they felt inferior as moms. We both were standing on the balcony, cocktails in hand, wearing ridiculously high heeled boots shifting from one foot to another. All I could think about as I began to chat with this woman is I cannot stand another single second in these shoes. My feet are literally breaking as she is talking to me. Then she snapped my mind only for a second out of my foot loathing to say, "I am admitting to you - because you seem like the type who won't judge me - I feed my 7 month old food from a jar and I supplement him with formula." She stopped and looked at me like she had just confessed she actually is involved in the mob or a fugitive heading to Mexico. I told her, "Can we please just sit down at that table right next to us because my feet are killing me."
We sat down. Looked at our shoes - admired how damn sexy they are and how much we hate them at the same time. And then as the throbbing pain eased in our feet I wondered when we started to be so hard on ourselves as mothers and on other mothers. I decided then and there I would no longer continue to stand next to this sister and not acknowledge our feet were both killing us and make small talk about the view or the beautiful remodel and how yummy the signature cocktail was. Let's sit down together and acknowledge the hard.
She told me about her struggles with fertility, her struggles with nursing, and then her struggle to have the energy to keep up with the pressure to make her baby's food fresh and organic. Like she was failing as a woman. How exhausting it was to attend these playgroups where mothers one upped each other and surveyed which outfits the babies were wearing, competed with nap schedules, and debated introducing pureed sweet potatoes or yams. Maybe because I have found an amazing community of women, or maybe because I give off the impression that I don't care about these things and those moms want to squirt a whole bottle of Purell in my general direction, or maybe I have just graduated to new competitions like birthday parties, teacher appreciation gifts, and summer camps. We hugged a few times and cried. It was an experience I will never forget.
Anyway - I just wanted to say to all you newish moms out there - it's hard to be a mom. You are doing a great job. Everyone enters this journey differently - through IVF, accidental pregnancy, or even after a few miscarriages. Some of your babies were born naturally, some via C section. Some of us were able to breastfeed for an entire year. Some never. Some for 6 months. This has zero reflection on who you are as a woman and as a mother.
I watched the movie Everest with my husband last night and one of the guides tells Jake Gyllenhaal's character, "We can't compete with each other as guides. We don't need competition among the humans. The mountain has the final say and is competition enough." I couldn't help but think of motherhood. We don't need competition among ourselves as mothers - life has the final say and our kids are competition enough. Being a parent is similar to climbing Mt. Everest - don't you think? I don't know if I'll make it out alive. And I don't have the energy or the oxygen to compete with my fellow climbers. But if I'm in a spot where I'm able, I share my extra bottle of O and ask if you'll sit down with me because my feet are killing me. But you won't ever catch me actually taking off my shoes before the end of the party.