Keeping it Real
I've read a lot of parenting books, blogs and magazine articles over the years- feeding, sleeping, discipline, you name it. I've also read a number of parenting books that are more of a "memoir" style, meant, I think, to encourage other parents in their journey.
~You are my hero. Someone needs to say it out loud, and I'm
happy to be that someone.~
And let's be honest here- who as a parent doesn't want to be encouraged? Who doesn't want to hear that someone else has gone through or is going through the same (or similar) stuff as we are? I know I do! But despite their pretty covers, some of these books end up rubbing me the wrong way. The authors come across as either too perfect or too preachy about "the right way" to do something leaving me feeling wanting and even more discouraged than when I started reading.
A while ago a good friend of mine and I were talking about this. We had been exchanging a few of these memoir-style books back and forth. She was happy to hear that two books she had recently lent me had also left me with a sense of unease; that I came away from reading them with a feeling of discouragement. Not that she wanted me to feel discouraged- far from it! But she was glad to hear she wasn't alone in her feelings. There's nothing worse than feeling alone in this whole parenting thing! We talked a bit more and then she offered me another book. She said it was her favourite so I decided to give it a chance.
~Mothers may want to find a room to breathe, to weep, to panic. But they don't want it to end- this delivering, shaping, cheering, loving, bringing life into the world.~
It was great. In fact, I've found myself quoting from this particular book quite a bit lately on my Facebook page and in random conversations. The author made herself vulnerable and real and, in turn, was a true encouragement to me. I'll probably read it again before giving it back. Just to let the words wash over me. Because, no matter where we are in our parenting journey, there's hard stuff we have to deal with and we can't do it alone. We need to know someone else has been there, that someone else is feeling the same things and making the same mistakes (and surviving nevertheless!)
~The glory of motherhood comes camouflaged in so much chaos.~
Keep this in mind when you talk to other parents. Yes, it's great to share our victories, but we should also share our struggles and our failures. (And I'm not talking about sharing our "failures" as a way to actually brag.) I'm talking about true honestly about the tough stuff. Because our vulnerability can be an encouragement to others.
I have great friend whose Facebook posts are the most raw and vulnerable things you'll ever read. I see such a strong person on the other end of those posts. And hearing about her ups and downs (yes, she posts the good stuff along with the hard stuff) encourages me even when I want to cry over what she's dealing with. I'd love to be as open and honest as she is. She's an amazing role model.
So read some parenting books. But if they make you feel rotten, toss them aside and find other ones. Open up to your friends about what you're feeling. Be vulnerable with others. Show them your struggles along with your joys. You never know what will touch someone's heart or encourage them to keep going. And give others grace- look past their seemingly perfect facades to the scared, the worried, and the discouraged that lies beneath and let them see that being real doesn't mean they are failures. Instead, it makes them brave. We're a society that likes to hide the hard stuff. Don't do it.
~Any way you cut it, motherhood is intimidating... And with each new baby we are that much more vulnerable to having our hearts broken into tiny little bits of forever... So moms might not know is, but they are the bravest of the brave for taking the risk.~
Stefanie Bittner is a birth and postpartum doula with Karis Doula. To find out more click here.