The conversation begins casually.
You strike up a conversation with a fellow mom at the playground.
You first notice her multitasking between entertaining her baby on the swing and responding to several “Mommy, watch me!” requests from her toddler-aged child.
As you juggle the demands for more swing pushes from your own brood, you think about the possibility of making a new mom friend.
So, while your kiddos are momentarily entertaining themselves, you and your potential mom friend lock eyes and exchange smiles. Friendly greetings are exchanged.
You engage in small talk at first, and even share a laugh about the chaotic-yet-rewarding mom life. Then, more personal topics are discussed like where you live, work and/or SAHM status, and your child’s recent double-ear infection.
And then it happens…
Your potential mom friend mentions that she is still breastfeeding her little one. It’s a touchy subject for you because of your own heartbreaking experience with it. You longed to nurse your babes and while you gave it your all, in the end you decided that bottle was best.
So, you freeze. And you feel all squirmy inside about your breastfeeding struggles.
It’s still a struggle to make peace with your experience, and you’re worried that you’ll be judged.
What’s Behind Your Mask?
Just in case you’re wondering, this post is not a debate about breastfeeding vs. the bottle.
What I’m talking about is our fear of taking our masks off as moms. We’d rather hide behind our masks and regulate what is seen because we’re worried about what others will think.
The other moms appear to have it all together, so we believe we must do the same. For goodness sake, we can’t let on that we don’t have our stuff together!
So, we keep up the mask.
Whether it’s our breastfeeding challenges, sleep training issues, postpartum depression treatment, or marital strife, we often choose to ditch the risk of exposure for the sake of maintaining our image.
But here’s the deal, when you attempt to mask yourself from others, you’re also hiding from yourself. Think about it, if you can’t let go and allow yourself to be seen or heard, how can you truly experience the heartfelt joy that comes from connection?
I’ll Show You Mine, If You Show Me Yours
So, what’s the catch you might be asking? Why should I take my mask down?
Being real and exposing ourselves and our stories can be scary (it’s called vulnerability) but what’s even more difficult is the effort it takes to keep the mask up.
Let’s go back to the park scenario. The mom who is struggling with her breastfeeding defeat can choose to shut down and dodge the opportunity for a new friendship. She decides that exposure of her “dirty little secret” is too much to bear. So, before more personal details can be shared, she finds a reason to leave the park and escapes the possibility of a phone number exchange.
Or, she can take a risk. Although her breastfeeding dreams didn’t turn out like she hoped, she’s willing to own her story and share it with her new friend when the times comes.
She also realizes that taking her mask down can open the door for connection. And let’s face it, all of us moms can benefit from making a genuine connection with another mom. It’s what reminds us that we’re not alone with our messes and our stories. It also validates us as the imperfect moms that we all are. Now that’s some deep joy!
If you’re struggling with hiding behind your mask, know that you’re not alone. Allow me to journey with you to explore how to face the mess and stories behind your mask. Contact me for a private consultation.