I just read a post written by a woman who called herself “that mom.” The mom who seems to be failing on all fronts. She says she’s in a rough patch. I get it. We’ve all been there.
I see a lot of posts like this lately, posts that lift the veil on the highly censored, cleaned up versions we often post of ourselves on Facebook, and show that life isn’t always that great. It’s not as great as the posts of people who ran 10K this morning and toured Europe and whose kids invented something that will now be patented. (for the record, none of those things are true of me).
It’s good, this kind of transparency. It breaks down walls. It combats shame. But what is discouraging to me is that it seems to create an either/or mentality, and a shaming of those who are doing “well.” We celebrate those who own their mess (and we should) but we draw lines and separate them from those who claim to be hitting their marks. We call those “other people” fake or boastful.
The fact is, these lines don’t exist. “That mom” may have had an off day, but I bet if you sit with her, you would wind up concluding that she’s actually doing a great job, even in the midst of her failings. And the people who are posting their victories aren’t necessarily trying to say they always live at awesome. Granted, they might be, but maybe they don’t feel the freedom to admit that they fall short. That should evoke compassion from us, not shaming. Maybe they’re just trying to say, “I had a red letter day. Rejoice with me.”
Can we be both?
Can we be the woman who messes up, but is being faithful and pressing on and sometimes has really great moments that she wants to celebrate? Can we be the woman who is enjoying life and doing well, but let others in to the fact that she’s sometimes less than her best? Can we affirm both? Can we rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn? Can we enter in with everyone?
We aren’t either/or. We are both.
We are successes and failures. We are extraordinary and ordinary. We are light and dark. We are glorious messes. If we tend toward focusing on our failures, maybe it’s time we stopped and celebrated what is good. And if we are only showing the shiny parts of life, maybe it’s time to let some people see where we’re struggling. We can be both.