Do you know what I had for lunch today? Hot dogs. Mac and Cheese. Graham crackers. Half a cheese stick. And two brownies. Not necessarily by choice, but by default. It’s a story that plays out over and over again, and it goes a little something like this:
1) Wake up
3) Make impressive breakfast for the little angels that call me mom (Do they know most people only get French toast at a bed and breakfast?)
4) Go about the business of the day
5) Shit hits the fan around 12: baby crying, one more errand, tired toddler, antsy dog, everyone is starving, yadda yadda yadda
6) Rush home to make lunch before total meltdown ensues
7) Kids eat (sigh of relief)
8) Wrestle, rock, bribe and coax the kids to nap
9) Take the dog out (finally)
10) Sit down for the first time in 4.2 hours and realize I am FAMISHED
11) A hangry panic sets in as blood sugar plummets and I can’t. even. THINK about making another meal
12) Devour remaining food on toddler’s plate (and any baked goods on the counter) as if it is the only thing I’ve had in weeks.
And herein lies the truth: despite my best efforts to chop up a salad and whip up some quinoa, I always find myself standing over the kitchen counter, shoveling remnants of kiddie food in my mouth until I’m able to think straight again. Pinterest tells me I should meal prep on Sundays. That’s all well and good, but I like to save those healthy, well thought-out lunches that require a fork and knife for when I’m eating in front of other adults, like at work or the pool. You know, to demonstrate how health-conscious I am. I’ll be completely frank: when I’m home with the kids, Momivore reigns supreme.
The Momivore alter ego is one of those dirty little secrets that lingers beneath the shiny Supermom exterior. It’s a secret moms don’t often talk about, for fear they may be judged. You feed your kids that? Pretty sure that’s not organic. Well, that’s why she hasn’t lost the baby weight, obvi. It’s a little ridiculous because I’m 97% sure we have all consumed a few chicken nuggets at some point in our parenting journey. Still, we often shy away from admitting we are anything less than mom-of-the-year and hide our truth from others, absorbing the shame, guilt and inauthenticity that accompanies our hidden truth.
It’s not just the Momivore alter ego either. The Debbie in Debt, the Screen Queen, the Unhappy Wife, and the Lady of the Loads and Loads of Laundry alter egos are just some of the many Messy Mom secrets we keep hidden while trying to put on a pretty, put-together (and, shhhh…. maybe botoxed) face.
The thing is, these are challenges that ALL of us face, that we all have to navigate at some point in our lives. Not a single one of us is perfect, nor do we have it all together all the time. Heck, sometimes I wonder if I missed some sort of important memo… by the way we talk to each other you would think that the day you had a child was the day that you magically washed yourself clean of imperfection and doubt, suddenly becoming an All Powerful and All Knowing Superhuman Version of Yourself. As moms, why do we insist on hiding our shortcomings? What if they aren’t really shortcomings at all, but just opportunities for improvement? What if it’s actually OK that we aren’t Supermom?
To live in a positive space, it takes owning up to our less-than-perfect moments, and a flip of the script. Instead of spiraling into a flurry of self-doubt, shame and secrets, in those moments a simple perspective change can get the ball rolling to cultivate a life of authenticity, abundance, and gratitude. Putting these few things into practice have helped me keep a positive mindset amidst the swirling chaos that accompanies motherhood on a daily basis.
1) Waste not, want not. So, I’m gonna be honest here: I never used to understand what this meant. Does it mean I should hoard everything for fear that I might need it someday? Not necessarily. Yet recently it occurred to me: by wasting our resources, whether it be money, or paper towels, or the leftovers of last night’s dinner (because we just didn’t feel like eating it again), we send out the vibration that we don’t need what we have, and that we don’t cherish it. In essence, we are dishonoring the gifts that we have been given – which is maybe not the best way to bring more blessings into your life. Now, I know there are instances when streamlining, cleaning, and organizing are necessary in order to create space for our lives to expand. But before we decide whether or not to throw something away, we should ask ourselves if it has fully served its purpose. And then ask, can it serve a purpose for someone else? Then, it can’t hurt to say a little “thank you for your service” before you let go.
2) Likewise, Take Good Care. It drives me crazy when my family throws their laundry on the floor, rather than in a basket. And yeah, I get a little naggy about it. But it’s not just the fact that I trip over it when I stumble to the bathroom in the middle of the night, in my mind it’s bad karma. Take care of the things that matter to you. If you drop trow in the middle of the floor where people stomp all over it and the dog decides it’s fair game to chew, you aren’t exactly sending out vibes of gratitude for that which you have. Find a hamper or a hanger, the choice is yours. The same could be said for being too lazy to floss your teeth (guilty as charged), or walking through flower beds (yep, me again), or never cleaning the garbage out of your car (…I’ve gotten better, I swear).
3) Never Say No to Honest Money. Life coach and visionary businesswoman Marie Forleo said this in one of her MarieTV episodes, and let me tell you – I will now forever be the crazy lady bending over on the sidewalk to pick up a dirty penny. Not just because it’s good luck, but because it’s like putting a “Welcome Friends!” sign on your wallet. You want more money? Pick it up when it comes to you, no matter the amount. Welcome it into your life with open arms, every time. Show gratitude for it. My kiddos aren’t above a piggy bank full of pennies; why shouldn’t I feel the same?
4) Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder. Sometimes just making it through the day requires a quick switch from negative talk to positive talk. Let me explain with an example:
Situation: SOOOO many dirty dishes
Negative: I freaking hate doing dishes.
Positive: Wow, how lucky are we that we were able to eat a delicious home cooked meal together, on these dishes that we received from our wedding registry? Love -> marriage -> new kitchen -> two babies -> healthy, happy family -> lots of dishes. Then I suggest pouring a glass of wine, putting on some good music, and daydreaming about your next vacation or career accomplishment while getting to work.
5) Move it or lose it. I heard a quote recently that said something like “Work out to celebrate what your body can do, not to punish it for what you ate.” Can I get an Amen?! And yes, I know finding time to exercise can feel next to impossible when you are a mom. But maybe it’s time we stop freaking out about getting in a workout and instead set an intention to simply move more. Instead of driving around the parking lot waiting for a spot to open up near the doors, park a little further and walk…. Because you CAN. Because you have legs that work and a heart that pumps. Add more movement into your day wherever you can fit it in, because it makes you feel good and because you have a body that was designed to dance, play, jump and walk. Then, enjoy the side effects when your pants are a little looser.
There is no doubt that motherhood is a challenging balance of managing time, expectations and a handful of humans that rely on us to keep the ship afloat. But rather than focusing on only these things – which are often out of our control – perhaps our best effort is spent prioritizing our own perspective. I, too, struggle at times. I, too, am learning as I go. But I do know this for sure: when I choose positivity, I am better able to tackle the obstacles in my path and see that the road ahead is long, open and inviting.
Saralyn Ward is an award-winning writer, wellness advocate, and mountain mama. She is the founder of The Mama Sagas, writes for several publications and hosts a regular parenting TV segment on Colorado's Everyday Show. When she's not huddled over edits, you're likely to find Saralyn climbing peaks or skiing down them, and reminding herself that the two little girls that call her mom are not the boss of her.