Finding Happiness Where You Are*

Week 39. If you had asked me a week ago if I thought I would make it this far in this pregnancy, I would not have thought it possible. There are definitely things happening in my body, but thankfully this little Prince hasn’t tried to claw his way out just yet.

(Although there has been more than one moment where I thought he was ready to arrive.)

I’ve been feeling lots of pressure with some sporadic contractions that I find intensify when I walk anywhere. So, we’ve been staying preeettty local, let me tell you. I am doing all I can to keep this boy in my belly until it’s time. It’s not that I’m not excited to meet him, in fact it’s the complete opposite. The closer I get to my due date (and the further we get from the madness of exams and Ruby’s seizure), the stress I was carrying is melting away and being replaced by the anticipation of meeting this wee man. I am so enjoying the simplicity of home life right now–as I write Ruby is blowing bubbles off the deck and Hank is river dancing on our slide. It’s a gorgeous, hot, sunny day and even though I am large and semi-uncomfortable almost all of the time, I feel… peaceful. I needed this.

I’ve had a very reflective weekend. At my appointment with my midwife on Friday, she asked us to walk her though my labor and delivery with Hank. My due date conflicted with Olivia’s schedule this year, so I was paired with a new midwife named Carla that I quite like. As the Hubster and I walked through the events that day, I noticed that he and I seemed to remember things a little differently. I’m so glad that I wrote it all down here because there are definitely things that I forgot… it’s amazing how your mind blocks out the hard parts.

I started scrolling back through some old posts looking for something I had written a few years ago. I’m a part of a few “Mom Groups” on Facebook that I love–they have “saved” me with advice, wisdom and support during this whole parenting thing more than once. One of the groups I’m in has over 2000 members, and I am often surprised (and shocked) at the things these women choose to share in this group. Among the very positive stories and anecdotes are cries for help through divorce and abuse, and while I’m glad these women have an outlet to seek support, I can’t help but feel a little sad that they feel like they have no one in their “real lives” to turn to for help. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to feel so alone… and I have had some moments in my life where I have felt that way to some extent.

Other posts that are shared often quietly hit home because I have felt the same way in the past. A few days ago a woman posted about her struggle with social media, and how she felt she wasn’t measuring up when she compared her life to the pictures and stories shared on Instagram by fellow moms. Her post hit such a chord with me, as I remember hitting a particularly low point a few years ago as I struggled with the exact same thing.

Being a stay at home mom is hard. It’s so isolating, and while it can be incredibly rewarding, it is also incredibly challenging. You straddle this strange line between having these little children that need you all. the. time and you are desperate for some time alone, yet you often feel incredibly… lonely. It’s not always like this, but there are definitely days when everything just feels so… hard. And then you open up Instagram or Facebook and see these other moms who seem to keep their houses so clean and properly decorated, their children happily play together and create elaborate crafts and they cook real meals that don’t include Nutella, hot dogs or Kraft Dinner. The first birthday party you threw for your child with streamers, balloons and cupcakes looks nothing like the incredible Pinterest party they threw, complete with bouncy castles and decorations that took weeks to complete. For a long time I quietly compared my life to what I saw online, until the self-judgement became too much and I let it eat away at my self-worth.

So, I stopped.

A friend of mine read what I wrote then and sent me a quotation that really changed my perspective, and it has stayed with me ever since:

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” – Steve Furtick

It completely changed the way I looked at the same photos and updates, and helped me remember that just because something looks perfect, it doesn’t mean that it is. Everyone is fighting a battle that we know nothing about… and even as I sat there coveting the seemingly perfect lives of those around me, someone else could be sitting quietly watching me and thinking the same thing.

I’ve done a lot of growing over the last few years since I wrote that post. I would be lying if I said it’s something I don’t still struggle with from time to time, but I’m much, much better at keeping things in perspective. My life may look a little differently than the people I follow on Instagram or connect with on Facebook, but it’s mine. And I like it. Life is hard enough as it is without feeling like you need to measure up or match your life to someone else’s expectations.

So, to that woman who is struggling with insecurities–I get it. I’ve been there. Don’t judge yourself too harshly because your life doesn’t match the perfect images you see splashed across the internet. Right now my floors are probably a little sticky, there are toys splayed across every inch of my living room, the dishes from breakfast are still sitting unwashed in my sink and my feet are so swollen that they’ve eaten my ankles.

(I just threw that last one in for good measure.)

That being said, there are fresh blueberry muffins on my counter, cabbage rolls stuffed and ready to cook in my fridge, I just sat back and watched an hour of my current TV obsession and there are two kids napping upstairs, happy that I spent time with them this morning. Life is all about choices… and learning to be okay with the choices you make. Today I’m good with my semi-sticky floors–I can clean them tomorrow.

For the most part, I want my “behind the scenes” to match my “highlight reel” because I’m happy with my life as it is. It’s not perfect and certainly comes with challenges, but it’s more than I often feel I deserve and I feel incredibly blessed.

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