The Myth of the Put Together Mom

I can't tell you how many times I am out and about and see these really put together moms that make me feel so frazzled and frumpy.  You know the ones.  Standing in line at Starbucks in their freshly washed form-fitting black yoga pants and cute colorful top with coordinated earrings, silky recently trimmed hair pulled back into an easy pony, stylish purse over their arm, spring in their step, trendy diaper bag hanging off of spotless sporty stroller with GapKids ad baby cutely smiling and flirting with all the customers while well-behaved, well-dressed grade school siblings stand sweetly by, smug smiles of satisfaction on the moms' well-rested moisturized faces as they contemplate another perfect day of exercise, orderly organic picnic in the park playdate, working on that novel while the kids nap, and whipping up a gourmet dinner followed by relaxing with wine while the eldest kid reads to the others at bedtime, kisses for all, and a grown up evening of sophisticated talk and sex before 8 hours of sleep on Egyptian cotton 1200 thread count sheets.

Who are these people?!  And why do they have to exist? They only serve to highlight my ratty hair long overdue for color and cut, postpartum belly stuffed into ill fitting pants, stained loose tee with fresh baby snot on the shoulders, exasperating unwashed children with bed heads, and constantly overwhelmed feeling of having more to do than I will ever get done combined with inadequacy and guilt over my staggering (to my pre-mom self) lack of efficiency and productivity each day.

So, the other day I was getting ready in the morning.  The kids, who happened to be freshly bathed and have cute, clean outfits on, were happily entertaining each other in the living room.  I had time to brush my hair and find a nice outfit that fit well.  The eldest helped me pack the diaper bag and car for our outing.  We decided to hit Starbucks before hitting the road.  The baby smiled sweetly out of my arms and flirted with people in line.  Her brother selected his organic chocolate milk, got napkins for all of us, saved us a table and enthusiastically greeted a neighbor we know.  Little sister cheerfully ate her Cheerios while dancing endearingly around our table.  I think I had a little smile on my face as I felt well-rested and happy contemplating the fun day we had in store.

Suddenly, it hit me.  Here I was probably looking pretty well put together in the eyes of some poor other mom who walked in and was feeling frazzled, frumpy, and overwhelmed.  Oh no!  The last thing I wanted to do was induce those same feelings of inadequacy and frustration in someone else.

I think we need some kind of symbol.  A little pin we can wear that signifies "Oh, don't worry!  I'm an exhausted and overwhelmed mom, too.  We're in this together!  I just happen to be having a one out of a hundred morning here.  And it won't last, I assure you.  A few hours from now these well coiffed kids will be melting down and these yoga pants will be ripped and I'll snap at somebody.  The baby won't go down for her nap and we'll all end up eating McDonalds for dinner and putting the kids to bed too late without baths before falling asleep on the couch without finishing those emails I was supposed to send by the morning."

I thought about how when I see those seemingly well put together moms, it could be that it's their one in a hundred morning that I'm just catching a few minutes of and I shouldn't compare myself to them and assume they've got things under control any more than I do, right?  I mean, probably that's the case.  Well, hopefully.

See, that's where the pin would help.

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