“Nothing makes us so lonely as our secrets.” – Paul Tournier
I have found that the most wonderful experiences in life can also be the most isolating. Marriage for example, is a wonderful companionship; however you can feel very alone when things aren’t as Disney promised they would always and forever be. You look around for someone going through a similar situation yet all you find are perfect marriages.
Parenting is too a wonderful companionship that delivers on more than what was promised; however when you feel your patience waning and your guilt growing you begin to look around for a comforting “me too” but all you find are patiently persevering parents with perfect progeny. And I guess this is where it begins, when those trials that we all face suddenly turn into secrets. On the surface you are a floating duck, smooth and elegant on the water; however below you are a pair of wheels spinning out of control and no one is the wiser.
I remember intimating to a friend what I thought motherhood would be. I thought it was this big club of women with outstretched arms waiting to tell me all about it. I thought it would be people championing one another during the highs and carrying one another during the lows. What I found though was a bit disappointing; instead of a club it was more like a sorority. Everyone was wearing the duds (I only shop at Lulu) and cleaning the house (her name is Mimi) and cooking the meals (you feed your baby from a jar?) and cultivating romantic relationships with their husbands (I love my new curves) while excelling at extra curricular activities (work has been really great). I was not. When deciding my options over what to do when baby was napping, sleep always won out, which meant showers were so yesterday (or was that the day before?)
I heard Will Smith once make a funny comparison saying that when he bought his big screen TV it came with a 70-page booklet written in 12 languages, yet when he had his first child the hospital just handed him the baby and said, ‘here’.
No matter how many books you may have read going into it, the reality of motherhood can hit the best of us pretty hard. On those days when I felt like I was being hit hard all I wanted was for someone to comfort me, but outside my circle of friends (and into the greater mom community) I found on occasion that when I looked around for calm eyes, I found judgmental stares and when I looked for conversation I found veiled disapproval. It is here that I came to a fork in the road: I could lock my fears and anxieties away and become the graceful languid bird on the water or I could be a less graceful bird, the chicken, running around with its head cut off. I’m proud to say I chose the latter. That’s not to say I don’t have graceful days or that I’m always frenzied but rather that I’ve allowed myself the freedom to be truthful about those frantic days and not push them down to a place where they become something I feel embarrassed by.
Now I freely share stories of me and my chickadee because I’m not ashamed for anyone to know (big news flash) that I’m not perfect and that I have moments as well as entire days that I wish I could do over but even then, I wouldn’t consider them to be failures. I may not have hit it out of the park those day but I went to bat. I tried and for that there is a lesson for my daughter: I will never be perfect and I will certainly make mistakes but I will always try my best for you. And inshallah, in the end I pray (as all mothers do) that my best will have been good enough.
Lena Hassan lives in Ottawa, Ontario and is a loving mother to one.