“I don’t know how you do it.”
“You have so much on your plate. Really, you’re amazing.”
“I could not do what you do.”
What do I do to earn that kind of hyperbolic praise? Honestly, I have no idea. I parent my pre-teen kids, I go to school, I do paid work. Lots of people do that. I do these things alone. Yep, lots of people do that too. I do it with chronic pain and an assortment of crazy. Okay, maybe that’s a little different than some folks. The kids I have are full of all kinds of crazy themselves (some autism here, some mental illness there). I suppose that ups the ante too.
Here’s my question, though: if my life were your life, what pieces would you peel away to make it manageable, something you could handle, something that wouldn’t trigger that label of amazingness from others?
We all have stuff. I think the only thing that separates me from anyone else on this front is that I talk about it. I write about it. I don’t hold much back, so folks see the whole picture of what my life looks like. And sure, I guess I can acknowledge that as a snapshot, a single mama grad student crazy lady with crazy kids really fills that frame. But what I write about, what I share here, is not unique to me. The feedback I get when I write about parenting my kids, living my life as not only a mom, but as a human being, tells me that my words resonate with their own experiences. So I’m really not unique.
I’m writing this to sell myself to Today’s Parent Magazine, as they are currently seeking bloggers who have a unique perspective. And here I am, telling y’all how not amazing and common my life really is. As much as I believe that my own experience is shared by many, though, I don’t see that experience reflected in what I read.
So what’s unique? My voice, and my ability to use it. I rip off bandaids. I tear apart pop culture. I share the gritty details of battles some would prefer to stay behind closed doors. I write pseudonymously, to protect my children’s privacy. They know I write and talk about my experiences with parenting them, but it’s too much to ask of them to have their lives open to scrutiny. I don’t hide much, though. I write about the hard stuff because I want to make it easier for those who can’t.
As for an image that represents my family life, I thought about taking a photo of my disastrous apartment. Then, maybe one of our three cats, who are family. I looked through Google Images of tornadoes. What my family life looks like will differ depending on when you ask. The visual representation that would most closely reflect the life we share here would evoke ideas of challenge, fatigue, and frustration while also illustrating devotion, acceptance, and conversations that never ever stop. We are a family of overworked talking bears. We are the heart of the Grinch if it actually grew too big for the average Who chest. We are impatient, impulsive, and sometimes larger than life.
Amazing? No. I’ll take pretty great, though.