Moms and Dads, you’re normal. And you’re going to make it.
I remember the first wallet I ever received as a kid. In addition to the money pocket and a couple of smaller slots for debit/credit cards that I wouldn’t get for at least a decade, it had one of those flimsy, clear, multiple-picture-holder things (pretty sure that was the actual name). The kind you could insert its back flap into one of the small slots and it’d leave the pictures accessible to thumb through (if you don’t know what I’m describing, think Google Photos that you could actually touch, with a capacity of about six).
Now as a kid, I didn’t have a lot of pictures, so baseball cards and my Social Security card got prime placement. But as adulthood dawned, my wallet shrine to athletes I didn’t know personally, gave way to images of little people I knew quite well. I was a big baseball fan, but, it turns out, an even bigger fan of girls with hair bows. Specifically, my own. And so, I’d occasionally take the opportunity to share the picture contents of my wallet with anyone willing to humor me (again, if you can’t relate to what I’m describing, think of pulling up your Gallery app on a leather smartphone that’s not a phone).
Of course, pictures in wallets are now about as common as the Tandy 1000 computer I got for my eighteenth birthday (for the confused, think a 40 MB hard drive Windows PC without Windows). But thankfully, we parents now have social media…the ultimate multiple-picture-holder thing with unlimited storage to showcase our progeny. Birthday parties, new outfits, sleeping alongside pets, school projects, and basically anything we deem noteworthy…we’ve got a picture of it. And a way to share it. And an audience. And affirmation. And a good feeling.
But the fact is, it’s been my experience that for all of the occasions that we as parents either privately or publicly document as high points of the complex job of parenting, there are hundreds more that are just plain uneventful, relatively normal, quite mundane, and yes, occasionally difficult. Sometimes very.
For every annual birthday party, there are endless diapers to change, daily lunches to make, weekly class assignments to check, and monthly friendship struggles to help navigate.
Understandably, we parents like to show the good times to others, but let’s never forget that life, and the opportunity to be a mom or day, isn’t a highlight reel. Not by a long shot. It’s work. And a juggling act. And sometimes messy. And sometimes more of a struggle than it is a celebration. And, if we’re really honest, sometimes a desperate, invisible search for a parenting manual that doesn’t exist by adults who truthfully are a little less secure about things than they appear to be.
So, as you rush out the door this week hoping you’ve remembered everything, and come home later to runny noses, nap protesters, laundry mountains, sports schedules, dinner menu griping, or the occasional teenage meltdown, remember this:
You’re normal. And you’re going to make it.
Sometimes it may not seem like it, but you are. And you are.