“Check on the Mom wearing lipstick. Last month the world lost another beautiful woman. She was a wife and mother. She was kind, upbeat, smiling, and generous. The preschool moms watched as she ran circles around the rest of us, volunteering, coordinating and simply ‘making things happen.’ Even after my family moved on to a different community, we were able to stay connected through social media. I, like many, were surprised when her death announcement addressed her struggle with postpartum depression. Her social media posts portrayed happiness and perfection, never indicating that she was suffering.
I think of my own bout with postpartum depression. At the time I discounted it as the chaos of moving across the country with a newborn, a toddler, and two elementary kids. Looking back, I suspect I would have had the same feelings of overwhelm, discouragement, insignificance and sadness even if I’d stayed in the same town.
I got out of bed each day, put on lipstick, brushed my hair, and tried to hide how overwhelmed and absolutely foreign I felt to myself. At the time I truly did not know how much I didn’t feel like myself until months later when the cloud lifted, and I could breathe again.
Between societal pressures and our own internal expectations, we, as women, as mothers, are encouraged to put our ‘best face forward.’ We assume because our sisters in motherhood show up with lipstick on that they aren’t feeling like a hot mess inside.
Collectively, the Western world is uncomfortable with pain or hardship. So, heaven forbid it might last longer than we want. We assume that there should be a shelf-life for grief or struggle. That our hardship ends as soon as the organized Meal Train expires.
My favorite teacher in eighth grade made a wise observation that stayed with me: ‘The more perfect something appears on the outside, the more likely it is that the inside is much different.’ And this is where we come in as a community of women.
Let’s check on those moms who seem to have it all together, but you ask yourself, ‘How does she do it?’ If you have to ask that question, it is highly probable that she is barely ‘doing it.’ Let’s not wait to respond to crisis, let’s anticipate brewing hardships. We often don’t even know our friends are suffering until after the storm has passed.
Take a quick inventory of the women you know. Who needs a quick Starbucks gift card? A meal for their family, or to take a break for one evening? A grocery store run? Someone to just sit in the muck with her?
We are social creatures. We are meant to live in, engage with, and be supported by community. We need that sense of belonging, of being seen, valued, and cared for.
The price of admission to this human experience is NOT being perfect. It’s a ‘come as you are’ kind of party. You do not need to be your lipstick-wearing self to sit at the table of kinship. We come to the table with our failures and struggles. So, let’s reach out to the moms who may have forgotten they have a seat.”
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