"Comparison is the thief of joy", that quote from Theodore Roosevelt had been my jam for years as a mother, and rightly so. As moms, we tend to look at other moms and compare our worst selves to their best selves. The selves that send out perfect (looking) holiday cards and the selves that put those perfect (looking) photos on social media. We use these comparisons as a way to beat ourselves up: that mom has such a clean house/great body/well behaved children. That mom has it together and I do not.
The thing is, sometimes, comparison is a good thing. Let me tell you why.
Isolation can be a big issue with motherhood. One that can sneak up on you. You feel isolated from other moms because maybe you feel like you aren't doing as good of a job, you feel like a failure, and you feel like the only one that feels that way. So you don't talk about it. And it can start this cycle of negative comparison that is like a nasty little hamster wheel you can't get off of. You notice only where other moms are better than you, you only see your shortcomings.
The thing is, when you realize that we all have these shortcomings (even the perfect Instagram moms) you feel SO MUCH BETTER about your own shortcomings. Your "big things" can become manageable in comparison with everyone else's "big things", and sometimes you realize that your big things are actually really teeny tiny things that don't matter as much as you thought they did (or should).
Sometimes you realize you are not the only one who is struggling. The only one who is going through a tough patch in their relationship, who is having trouble making ends meet, who is having health issues, who is having depression or anxiety issues, or addiction issues, or is dealing with behavioral issues or home life issues that they don't know how to tackle.
Sometimes that brand new perspective blows your mind and helps you shift your thinking. It helps you get through your own tough times.
The thing is, we still don't talk about the tough times. Sometimes we don't have the words, or we are scared of sharing, because we don't know how people will judge. Sometimes even with our close friends we still can't let go of an image we have created because it is that very image that is helping you hold it together. So we don't share.
But, I'm gonna share today. Cause I've done something new and I want to reach out to you guys. What did I do? I stopped drinking. Now, I have to tell you, I'm not an alcoholic, but, I also really loved my wine. (and I have the collection of cute quippy wine glasses to prove it). And I thought that drinking used to help me be a better, more relaxed parent. At the end of the day, with my "mommy's sippy cup" of Sauvignon Blanc, it was a little habit that never really got out of control but was a habit nonetheless. Even keeping drinking in check while breastfeeding, it was a thing. Mommy needed her glass of wine. And I really didn't like needing anything (okay I still drink coffee let's not get crazy here).
For years, drinking and being a mom was like a funny open secret. Oh my kids are making me crazy I NEED A GLASS OF WINE. I have been to many daytime playdates and kids birthday parties where wine is offered. Drinking wine and mommyhood is so entwined and so socially acceptable right now it can be easy to go from having a glass of wine at the kids bedtime to drinking a whole bottle while watching the Bachelor. There are websites and facebook pages with funny names like "Mommy Needs a Glass of Wine" and an actual wine called "Mommy's Time Out". Put "Mommy Needs" into a facebook search and see what comes up...
The thing is, I wasn't even really enjoying drinking anymore. Even just a glass or two of wine made me feel tipsy (my tolerance went down after each pregnancy, oh the irony...) and then also gave me a hangover, that's right, TWO (normal sized) glasses of wine gave me a hangover. Not cool. But giving up drinking altogether seemed like a crazy idea. Surely I would never just stop drinking, right?! That's crazy talk! Even though I had abstained during my pregnancies (and let's face it with five pregnancies that's a lot of abstaining) I had really never "taken a break" from drinking since I was legal. Not that I drank every day, but I had never taken a purposeful break from drinking alcohol. Not once. So I did.
And...I love it.
Mostly, I love not being hungover ever because being hungover around small children IS THE WORST. The worst. OMG. But also I love that I don't actually need that glass of wine to get through my tougher parenting days like I thought I did. Being clearer headed and not reliant on anything outside myself to chill out has actually been the thing to make me a better parent. Taking the step back made me realize I had created this parenting crutch I don't need. That I can help prop myself up with healthier ways. Also coming from someone who has breast cancer in their family and is quickly approaching 40, I took notice of the fact that compared to women who don't drink at all, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer. Just three alcoholic drinks PER WEEK. I was usually having more than that on most weeks. So, I'm done now. And that's that.
The thing is, I haven't really told anyone besides some close friends and family about it, because I don't want people to judge me. I don't want people to assume I don't drink because I had a major drinking problem. I don't want people to judge me because I can't handle drinking (because I just can't anymore). I also don't want people to think I now judge them because I don't drink anymore (I don't, obviously). I also AM NOT PREGNANT AGAIN. So let's make that clear (always, always the #1 question people would ask me if I ever didn't drink, and I have to admit it was usually true, but not this time I swear!).
But, I wanted to share with you guys, because I want you to know that we all have our things. We all have things we hide, we all have things we are struggling with. And I want you to share, here, anonymously. What are you struggling with? What do you hide? These things range from the not so important: i.e I gave my kids Froot Loops for dinner, to the serious: Going through a divorce, being in an abusive relationship, dealing with addiction, having a spouse or child that is dealing with addiction. The struggles are endless, and they are real.
ALL comments on this post are anonymous. No names or emails or anything is needed to post here, and your comments will only be shared here. So if you feel like sharing, please do. Much love mamas xoxo