So much about how you look at the world changes when you become a mother.
A twenty-minute shower can feel like a day at the spa, you realize you never really knew what it meant to be tired, and getting your hands on a free box of diapers is the equivalent to winning the lottery. And while I have experienced all of these and more, the biggest change for me has been an increased awareness that most people, adults, and children, truly are doing the best they can.
It started when I found out that I was pregnant. I remember looking at pregnant women and thinking, “Oh, I’m going to be the type that doesn’t let pregnancy phase me. I’ll exercise, still go out with friends even though I can’t drink, and just be an overall #momboss.” Then, I got pregnant, and holy morning sickness and fatigue! I was lucky if I could get through the day without a scowl on my face, let alone exercise or watch other people have fun. My life came to a screeching halt. All I could do was be pregnant, and that would just have to be my best. Now, when I see a pregnant woman, I think to myself, “Good for her. She’s creating a living being inside her body, and she still managed to leave the house. #momboss”
Then I gave birth to my daughter and became a mother.
This is when I understood what it meant to fail while doing my best all day, every day. I was suddenly tasked with raising a delicate little baby to adulthood while loving her more than life itself and worrying that I would never be enough. The weight of this new responsibility felt like being crushed by a car, which was convenient because I now had the strength to lift one if it meant saving my child. I would do anything for her, but all I did was make mistake after mistake … after mistake. The only thing I seemed to get right was how much I loved her, and that would just have to be my best. So, when I see a stressed-out mom barely keeping it together as her child Tasmanian-devil’s their way around Target, I don’t judge. Instead, I offer up a commiserative comment and smile to let her know that I get it.
She’s doing her best.
Being a mother also opened another portal of empathy in my heart when it comes to my kids. One of my favorite movies growing up was E.T., and I often joke that I am now the Elliot to my three little E.T.’s. I watch them struggle with each new phase of their lives and feel every failure, every frustration, and every single tear. They always want to do better, but lack the knowledge and coping skills to do so. With each homework-induced meltdown and unsuccessful attempt to ride their bike without training wheels, I am reminded daily that it’s hard to be a kid. So when my girls fall apart because their sweet little hearts can’t handle the unsympathetic reality of this world for one more minute, I know that this will just have to be their best.
It’s hard to have empathy for the people around us.
We get wrapped up in our own struggles and hardships. We rationalize our harsh reactions to others’ failures by thinking things like, “I did it, so you should be able to do it, too.” or “No one listened to my excuses, so why should I listen to yours?” without the slightest idea of what their life is like. We think that there is no way they could possibly be trying their best and still be achieving such negative results. But as I fail my way through motherhood, I am here to tell you that it is possible and that I experience it daily. And something tells me, I’m not alone. So the next time you see someone stumbling their way through life, remember that they are simply trying to handle the unsympathetic reality of their world and give them the grace that goes along with the understanding that this might just have to be their best.