What you don't see in this picture

This is a picture of my attempt at a volcano.  It’s for my 7 year old son; he has a science project to present to his grade 2 class.

What you don’t see in this picture is a struggling mom.  Who looks at the enthusiasm in her son’s eyes when he imagines making an erupting volcano.  His inquisitive mind, and eagerness to learn is important because while he struggles with reading and writing he is exceptionally bright and intuitive.  He learns by watching and listening, and has an uncanny ability to recite an entire topic with precise detail.  A trait I was never good at in school.

So why am I struggling over a volcano?  Because as a child, I never felt disappointed by my parents.  I never felt there was a task too much for my Mom to handle.  Maybe she was struggling inside, but never showed it.  She made a choice to give up her career and stay at home with my brother and I.

But as I got older, and had children of my own, I realized the sacrifice she made.  With her sense of ‘self’ being impacted the most.  So I wanted the best of both worlds.  I wanted to be present before and after school, but run my own business so I felt I had a purpose for me.  I wanted to be the Mom who sent homemade cupcakes on my kids birthday, or who volunteered at the school.  At least that is what I thought.

I quickly realized two things.  One, I’m not wired to handle a classroom full of kids, it literally debilitates me (a topic for another time).  And two, I couldn’t be a full time stay at home Mom who also started up her own full time business.

So as I write this now, I’m sick with a cold and back in bed, having just built a flour/salt dough volcano so my son can try his experiment.  What energy I had in me today, is now gone.  And, my 3 hour presentation I was suppose to write is going to have to wait.

I’m not writing this out of bitterness.  It truly makes me feel amazing inside to do something for my son.  But, I’m definitely not one of those Pinterest Moms, or a helicopter parent.  In fact, I’m the complete opposite.  So I struggle with guilt and feeling like a failure.  I have to shut off social media because the ‘look what I did’ pictures and posts kill me.  And, those emails asking me to help with hot lunch because ‘my child loves seeing me there’ push my guilt/failure feelings to the max.

I’m writing this to start building awareness.  I've worked with many women now who are experiencing similar challenges, and often welling up with tears in my gym.  We need to open up about the struggles of balancing motherhood and self.   For Moms, to give each other some understanding.  What works for you, may not work for another and we have to respect that.  Be sensitive to each of our desires to be the best for our children, as well as to ourself.

I appreciate we want to post our successes in motherhood, I do it too.  But what if we opened up a little more, and wrote about the vulnerable side as well.  The fear of failure or judgement or shame.  Maybe a little more understanding of what we go through from the moment of conception will literally save a Moms life, because she won't feel alone.

This volcano does not represent a successful Mom moment.  It’s about a struggling Mom, who wants the best for her children without losing touch with her ‘self’.