I’m in a mom-related Facebook group, where moms post all their questions to each other: What are the most important things on the baby registry? What’ the best rate for refinancing your mortgage? How do you throw a birthday party for your 5-year old during pandemic lockdown? Do you ever want to quit your job, divorce your spouse, and move at least 3 time zones away?
I find a lot of the posts fascinating, especially the ones that are about things I’ve been through before: divorce, quitting jobs, and all the stages of mothering younger children. Having the perspective of a mom that’s made it through those stages and those worries, it helps me remember where I was and notice how far I’ve come. To be clear, I do not judge those moms at all; we are all on our own journey and there are stages to go through, parenting is not easy for anyone.
A recent post in the mom’s group caught my attention. The mom was asking for advice on ways to keep her 3 year old from sucking their thumb. Huh, I thought – why SHOULDN’T this 3 year old suck her thumb? In a pandemic. With stressed out parents. With no other kids to play with. Being so small and so unable to control your life must be hard. Why not give her permission to suck?
And then I thought about the mom. The mom may be worried that the daughter will damage her teeth. The mom may be worried about the scar on the bridge of the daughter’s nose that won’t seem to go away, from her finger resting while she sucks her thumb. The mom might be worried that she’s not handling this the right way, that her inability to handle this seemingly simple thing that millions of other moms go through every day, will certainly signal to her spouse, her family, and the rest of the world, that she is not up to the task of motherhood.
And I think, why should this mom not also have permission to suck? Permission to not be a perfect mom. Permission to mess this up. Don’t get me wrong, there ARE some terrible mothers out there – narcissists, drug abusers, neglectful mothers. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the mother that has such high expectations of herself, that she doesn’t ever let anything go. This seems to be the majority of the mothers in this mom group. They are on top of it, researching, asking opinions, gathering data. And after all that, they are most likely virtue-signaling through Facebook posts, broadcasting the message: “Yes, I do indeed have it together.”
But what if, especially now, at a time when we most certainly do not have it all together, for the duration of this this pandemic shit-show: what if we all just gave ourselves permission to suck? To do it wrong, and not let self-judgment keep us up at night; to say the wrong thing, to make the wrong choice, the just skip making dinner tonight, to let the laundry pile up, to not fill the dishwasher. What if we took it one step further and celebrated our fuck-ups? Broadcast them to the world, and let others reply back YES. Celebrated our suck. Let’s try it. And maybe even keep it around after the pandemic ends.