Moms, Take Off Your Armor

Your blog has helped me see another side to being a mom, that it’s not all baking cupcakes, and sometimes it’s a very dark journey… Thank you for being a real mom, for being perfectly imperfect.

I read those words at the end of a very heartfelt, very raw email a reader sent to me over the weekend, and I cried a little.

This reader, this mother described how alone she felt in her struggles, how disconnected she felt to the moms around her daily. It makes my heart ache.

I think it’s a combination of sadness for her and the loneliness she describes, knowing what that can feel like, and knowing so many other moms feel that way day in and day out… and they’re convinced they’re alone. That those other moms they see don’t feel that way, that those other moms have it all together.

Everyone needs moms, but you know who needs moms the most? Moms.

Moms need moms to put down their armor of perfection and show us their weak spots. We need to know we’re not the only one shaking in our boots under that iron suit, that we’re not the only one nervously walking in a direction that feels as sure as a tightrope over the Grand Canyon.

Instead of pretending we have it all together in front of other moms, we should be open about our struggles. We should TALK ABOUT our weaknesses. We should share our fears. Human bonds are built on human connections and relatability, not fantasy and idolization.

Moms, take off your armor. Smile kindly at one another. Offer grace and support. Know that every mom you meet, no matter how “perfect” she appears, is walking that same shaky tight rope right along with you. Take her hand, tell her it scares you, too. Tell her sometimes you fall. 

Tell her how you get back up.

Perfection is a heavy standard to hold yourself to. Take if off, and I promise the weightlessness of imperfection will be freeing. It’s much easier to walk tight ropes without so much weight on your shoulders, and it’s easier to get back up from a fall when someone is there to take your hand.

  • Marcy - YES. This is so true. I know better, and yet I still fall into this trap sometimes of feeling like everyone else has it so much more together than I do.

    When my first son was born, I would read Dooce’s archives bc I thrived on her honesty. It was so great to know that I was not the only one who didn’t derive unlimited amounts of joy from being with my baby all day. I’ve made a point to try to write openly and honestly on my blog, partially inspired by hers, and every so often I get an email or comment from another mom about how she relates so well to me and thanking me for being so honest. Makes my heart sing every time.ReplyCancel

  • Megan - I hear you.

    Right now my kid is sick. And she’s surly about it. I can see her point because being sick sucks but you know what I’m not thinking right now? “Oh my God! This sweet miracle of life just blew snot all over my shirt. I might have to cancel everything tomorrow to stay home with her. THIS IS FANTASTIC! I cherish every moment I get to spend with this precious gift that is motherhood!”

    People who are like, “Barf? Snot? Sleep deprivation? Body image and lifestyle change? Tantrums? Social and marital adjustment? PIECE OF CAKE. Now let me invite you into my perfectly clean home which has many, many environmentally conscious DIY projects, home made organic baked goods, and – oh shucks, thanks for noticing – a perfectly groomed me. It’s not that I’m judging you. It’s just that I don’t get why you’re struggling with having joy in your life. Don’t you agree perfect husband?” are creepy. The original Stepford Wives was a horror story for a good reason.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - This is such a wonderful post. I remember feeling so alone when I had my first daughter because I thought there was something wrong with me for not being all positive and lovey-dovey about my experience. For all that I tried to focus on the positive and the blessing of having a healthy, thriving daughter, I couldn’t shake how hard the reality of motherhood truly was and no one seemed willing enough to be open about their experience. All I ever got, was “it’s a phase” or “it will get better.” I can guarantee that things would have been easier for me if I felt like what I was going through was normal, but since mothers don’t like to speak up about the bad/hard times, it’s hard to know what normal is. I realized that if I wanted other mothers to open up to me about their difficulties, I needed to take that first step and that’s a step that came once I started feeling like I had a grasp on this whole motherhood thing and once I felt like speaking honestly might help one person even if ten people thought I was a complainer. (There’s a difference between being realistic and being a complainer in my book)

    I get that motherhood is all perspective and what you choose to focus on, but we are so shackled down by expectations of being the “perfect” mother who loves being a mother. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having trouble with being a mother or with not liking it in the beginning; it’s a huge adjustment! I wish more women would be honest with themselves and admit that because it would help us connect to each other more meaningfully. Being honest about motherhood and how hard it is, is not a weakness nor a sign of being a “bad” mother. We get so caught up in notions of “bad” mothering that we fail to see that the real benefit of being honest is that we free ourselves from all the expectations others have of us. We can mother on our terms and find a way to be ok with that.ReplyCancel

  • TheNextMartha - I was really able to keep up the facade when I had just one kid. Kid 2 really took my perfection and flushed it down the toilet. Now I judge my floors on # of crumbs. 10 pieces of cereal or less equals a CLEAN floor.ReplyCancel

  • mrshiggison - Your honesty is what keeps me honest with myself.
    Well done.

    All the damn time, well done.ReplyCancel

  • Jen - The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel ~ Steven Furtick

    xoReplyCancel

  • Megyn - This is so, so true! I wrote a post a few months back about how I just never wanted to be a mom, and I’m still not acclimating to it. I expected a huge backlash as any mom basically saying they dislike their job every day equates to her being the worst human alive. I was surprised that I only received support from readers. I keep finding that being honest about how I feel is actually helping me make connections with other moms and general humans over just pretending that motherhood is the shit. Thank you for this :)ReplyCancel

  • Jojo the dancing bear - Why make it gender specific? Don’t reinforce stereotypes. Moms aren’t always the primary child raisers, and are not alone in having to hide their troubles from their compatriots. Why not make it about “parents” instead?ReplyCancel

    • Jill - I’m not meaning to alienate other care-takers with this. I’m just speaking from experience as a mom, knowing how much pressure moms put on themselves to be perfect and to maintain an image of perfection in front of each other. From my experience, my husband and other dads I know don’t feel the say way, they don’t feel the need to prove to everyone that they have it all together.ReplyCancel

  • Gale - I’m just afraid that if I take off too much armer, someone will call CPS.ReplyCancel

  • Holls - I felt extremely alone, especially when I tried to take off my amour. Even so, I still encourage women to do it, I have seen it be helpful for so many mothers out there.ReplyCancel

  • Melinda - Thank you for making me cry. :)ReplyCancel

  • ChiMomWriter - I wrap my head around this, and then I lose it all over again. It’s something that we need to just. keep. doing. and KEEP writing about, because each day brings new challenges (and joys, yes). Maybe if we keep writing long enough, more of it will translate offline.ReplyCancel

  • Nikki - this post is so true, but, it is so hard to show your true emotions when the world is judging your parenting (as a blogger). I mean, seriously hard. I haven’t even talked about any of my true struggles as a mother and yet someone still took the time to call in a false CPS claim on me. What if the world knew I take Wellbutrin and yell more than I’d like to? Those things are the real me. The me I don’t talk about.ReplyCancel

  • Good Girl Gone Green - Today was a not so proud mom day for me. and I needed to read this! :) Thank you, Jill!ReplyCancel

  • Erma - Thank you. Just, thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Cat - Thanks for writing this, my biggest parenting struggle has been learning to bend so that I won’t break. This sums up my philosophy:
    “Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
    I read this everyday, it gives me permission to have my high ideals, and encourages me to have them, but not be chained by them. My high ideals and inability to compromise are my greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses, and nothing has shown me this like becoming a mother. Someone once told me that parenting doesn’t change you it reveals you, I believe that. And boy, oh boy, have I been revealed!ReplyCancel

  • Erin - Not to joke about what is a serious issue, but when I read your title my first thought was your post last week about fighting off the kids and “No WAY I’m taking off my armor, my kid goes for the vital organs!”ReplyCancel

  • Heather Hunter - I love your blog. I keep saying this but thanks for being so honest. It’s hard for us to be honest with ourselves and in front of others.
    We do need other moms. I need my mom and my mother-in-law support. I need my mommy friends. I don’t know where I would be without mommy friends. They’re some of my best friends and their kids are my kids ‘ best friends.
    My best advice for new moms and pregnant women. Find a moms’ group. At a hospital, on meetup.org, at the playground, wherever. You need this.
    Thanks again.ReplyCancel

  • nicole - You put it beautifully. Thanks.ReplyCancel

  • April - “Perfection is a heavy standard to hold yourself to. Take if off, and I promise the weightlessness of imperfection will be freeing.”

    This may be one of the greatest things you have written. Thanks.ReplyCancel

  • Andrea @ The Penny-Roach's - This is so true. And I hope that Mom that emailed you reads this and knows that so many of us are feeling just like her. That she’s not alone.ReplyCancel

    • Jill - I got the sweetest follow-up email from her a few days ago. I’m so glad people have chimed in to let her know she’s not alone.ReplyCancel

  • Cassie S. - Amazingly, fantastically, wonderfully said. AMEN.ReplyCancel

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