Can I be blatantly honest with you for a minute?
Full disclosure: this is not going to make you feel good and I am pretty sure that I am breaking about 1,000 rules of etiquette by doing this.
In fact, I don’t really want to say anything because I think it will hurt your feelings and you may actually hate me after you hear what I have to say.
I’ve been waiting for a long time to publish this post just hoping that someone else would fill you in so that I wouldn’t have to do it. But, after watching you in some excruciating circumstances and events, the time has come for me to speak up.
Because I relate to you, and I respect you, I am going to tell you like it is.
You know how you feel like you are the only mom out of your group who, no matter how hard you try, is always forgetting some crucial “kid” thing? Like you didn’t pack enough snacks or you let your toddler get overtired on a sunny day at the playground and you are paying for it in weepy behaviour from your son/daughter and stares of judgement from other moms?
You know how it seems like your child is the only one that freaks out in public and that Susy Q’s kid is always a little angel? Or how you perpetually have that feeling that you are rushed and late when Susy Q seems to float from event to event smiling from the top of a pile of fairy dust and well-behaved children?
Well, here’s the thing: You feel this way because you are a hot mess.
And, if you ever want to feel like you have it all together and are not a scattered and confused parent you better listen up.
Did I really just call you a “hot mess?”
Yep. Sure did. Sorry!
Now, I should interject here, you might actually be one of those good natured and cool moms who let’s the little stuff roll off her back, happily celebrates her children (and yours) and has that perfect mix of healthy parenting and down-to-earth style. For example if you are the mom who scoffs at an article about how toddlers LOVE green smoothies but is able to get all the kids at a party excited about eating fruit salad - this post is not for you. Congratulations, your “hot mess” days are behind you.
This post is for two types of hot mess moms - the “haters” and the “hated.”
You know who you are.
The “hater” hot mess mom is the holier-than-thou type who tells you why her kids are going to win at life and your kids won’t (p.s. according to her her it’s because of the caution, preparation and expertise she exercises while being a fabulous parent.) Critical and uptight, rarely happy but always in control - she tries really hard to look like she has it all together but it’s pretty easy to see she is dangling by a thin, exhausted, thread. She hates when people can’t get organized and she always does what needs to be done - even if it means sacrificing joy and kindness.
The “hated” hot mess mom is the mother stumbling through the supermarket dropping things out of her diaper bag and inquiring at customer service about her lost keys. She has a crying baby in her cart and a toddler that just ran away from her with peanut butter on his cheek. She’s beyond caring what anyone thinks of her and considers wearing clean yoga pants a major accomplishment. She feels hated and judged and also kind of guilty for not really caring.
Moms who have it together are better than you.
This is a lie.
This is the untruth we tell ourselves when we feel we have failed. There is a lot of pressure when you are responsible for growing a person. That pressure builds and builds and seems to magnify all of the things we think are bad about ourselves.
Well here is a big newsflash for you: to be human is to have imperfections and once you accept that fact you can focus on the positive and give yourself a break every now and then.
The honest truth is that the only fundamental difference between you and the mom who seems to have it all together is confidence.
Confidence is the key ingredient to losing the “hot mess” title - regardless of whether you are of the “hater” or the “hated” variety.
Now, I know what you are thinking….confidence? Somehow coffee grounds exploded out of the coffee maker yesterday….I’m not confident that I can actually make a cup of coffee right now let alone assume ultimate confidence as a mom.
That’s okay. This is where I can help.
How to become a confident mom:
I think all women struggle with self confidence at one time or another in their lives. There are a few things you can do that will help you build up confidence as a mom and help you get your act together.
1) Be prepared to fail. A lot.
Remember, no one is perfect. Most likely you are going to fail more than you are going to succeed. Understand that - let it sink in - and then, move on. This is what people mean when they say “don’t sweat the small stuff.”
So your kids didn’t like the recipe that was supposed to be 100% kid-approved, so your toddler had a tantrum in aisle three, so you were still late even though you got everything ready the night before. Big deal, in the grand scheme of things, all of this is really okay.
Be consistent and keep trying - you will fail a great deal - but one night your kids WILL eat the dinner you made and because you didn’t give into that tantrum in aisle three eventually your toddler will grow out of that behaviour. Prepping the night before is a great habit to start and keep up - with practice you WILL be on time.
The important thing is that you keep trying and don’t let the small defeats get you down. That way whether you succeed or fail you can be confident in the fact that you are trying to do what’s best for your kids.
2) Be honest with yourself and others.
It is really hard to be a parent. Be okay with that. Everyone feels this way sometimes and it is completely normal.
If you’ve hit a bump in the road and nothing seems to be going right don’t try to fake it with other moms. Without offering a lot of detail just be honest with a simple statement like “Kids are challenging these days!” You might be surprised to discover that other moms are dealing with the same issues.
And if it feels like no one can relate to you please rest assured that those other moms are spending precious energy on faking it because they are not confident enough in themselves to say “Hey, you know what? I hear you. I know exactly what you mean.”
3) Know that haters are gonna hate.
No matter what you do or where you are in life there are always going to be people who judge you. If some one needs to justify their own existence and choices by comparing them to yours - oh well.
I am not saying to discount the people you trust - those that you would look to for advice. I am saying that one sure fire way to boost confidence is to forget about the other moms who just flat out think what you’re doing is not as good as what they are doing.
As far as I am concerned the only mom doing anything good is the one who is not worried about being judged but just trying to do her best.
4) Help (or at the very least, don’t judge) other moms.
I’ve seen tons of people write about the issue of women hating other women. There is a wonderful movement right now that calls for women not to tear each other down with jealousy and judgment but rather build each other up, supporting each other and succeeding WITH other women - not competing against them.
When you master this final step you will realize you actually have everything more together than you thought. Offer a kind word to your frazzled friend. Suggest a coffee break with your uptight neighbor. Respond to the hectic minutes of everyday life around a hot mess with a smile and some understanding.
I have a friend who had her child about 7 years before me and most of our other friends. No matter what you say to her - however crazy you acted as a mom - she NEVER gives off a bad vibe. She consistently just waves her hand with a smile and says something to the effect of “Please! Trust me, we have ALL been there.”
It All Comes Down To You
The truth is, right now, the person that you are probably doesn’t have what it takes to be a mom who has it together. You have to do the work in order to see the results you want.
Start appreciating your failures as much as your successes and your efforts will not be wasted - you’ll start to learn some good lessons about yourself and your kids.
Recognize that being anything other than the real you - whether that is crazed or calm, frightened or flamboyant - is a waste of time.
Forget negative people - nothing good can come from listening to them.
Pay it forward and boost the confidence of those around you - never tear them down.
You need to really put the effort in and stop wasting energy on all of the negative stuff that gets in your way. It’s hard work and you may not be there yet but with patience and practice and consistency you will get there.
You will start to see the results in the smiles on your kids faces or in that moment you take to appreciate a gorgeous day. You’ll feel better about yourself and what you are doing for your family because things will be working.
There is just one simple question you need to ask yourself. Are you ready to be the confident mom that keeps it all together?
Or are you just going to be another hot mess?
It’s up to you.
About the author: Maggie Barla is a writer from Philadelphia who wants to support other moms in this crazy journey called parenthood. If you liked this article please share it with your friends on social media.