“Happy Mother’s Day, Super Mom!”
“To My Fearless and Fierce Mother!”
“I’m a mom. What’s YOUR superpower?”
The Mother’s Day aisle at the card shop is one of many places gearing up to celebrate the perfect version of a mom. The perfect mom will be popping up in all kinds of places – Facebook posts, Instagram feeds, magazines, and in real life. And let me tell you, this woman has got her act together. From her carefully touched-up holiday card photos to the organic food she cuts into a different animal shape every day for her kids, she seems to have a real handle on things. She knows how to document her life in a way that puts out only the very best versions of herself and her surroundings, even if it means taking dozens of digital photos to ensure it.
Don’t get me wrong. There was a time when I also bought into this idea of sharing only my most flattering sides of life. In fact, I embraced it. If I didn’t appear to be in perfect charge of the situation, I considered it not worth remembering. If I’m honest, it felt good to capture myself on film during a moment of having-it-all-togetherness. Those images are fun to look at, but they are rarely an accurate portrayal of what happens in real life.
I might be giving away my age a bit when I say I like to think of this near-flawless version of myself as my A-side life. A-side images of my life are kind of like A-side tracks on a vinyl record. A-side tracks are ones to which artists or producers extend their most time and attention because they expect these songs to be received well by an audience.
But flip the record over and you’ll get to listen to the songs that receive much less attention – the B-side tracks. These songs won’t get an MTV video. They weren’t meant to be programmed in a jukebox or have Weird Al make parodies of them. B-side tracks are better known for being the songs artists create when they are working through a struggle, being playful, or using their instruments in a unique new way. B-side tracks can be pretty damn good, in fact, and I’m glad those artists chose to share them with me. What would life be like without blasting The Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want on a Sunday morning?
When we’re being slammed by perfectly posed #momlife photos through every social and media channel out there, it’s easy to convince ourselves that our b-side memories are inferior in some way because they capture raw emotions, or they put us right back to a time associated with pain, or maybe they just don’t meet someone else’s standards. I’m resisting the urge to play to those pressures. I don’t want my children to look back and remember some version of our life that wasn’t full of an array of emotions and a spectrum of good times with bad. My B-side life is made up of crappy weather on vacations, dark circles under my eyes, and red hot fury because I served the “wrong kind of pasta” for dinner. We wear pajama pants at 2 pm. We eat pizza on the floor. A lot. Over time, my B-side life is becoming the new normal. This life is perfectly acceptable to me, the person who really matters at the end of the day.
I like that as my kids get older, they will see our lives documented with snippets of unfiltered memories. My gift to them is that I no longer edit our B-side moments. My oldest son will see the photo my husband took of him right after his first major surgery when his little body was so tired he fell asleep on top of me. Because of that photo, he might appreciate that mom and dad were both there on a very difficult day in his life.
Teachers of my oldest son often comment on what a great listener he is in class. Maybe some of that comes from the times when his dad or I stopped everything we were doing to get on his level and listen to what he had to say. We see proof of it in the photos and videos my husband and I have snuck over the years.
For my youngest son, I’m preserving the gift of a grainy photo of us sprawled out in his room together. When he sees it, maybe he’ll remember himself as a chubby baby, kicking his legs in the air as he fed himself a bottle of formula. When I see it, I remember how exhausted I was after another unsuccessful attempt at breastfeeding, and that photo marked the start of my gradual change of perspective regarding what it means to successfully nourish your child. I love the conversation that photo will spark between him and me for years to come.
Maybe my youngest will truly understand the meaning of the phrase “working mom” when he rediscovers the photo my colleague took of us while I conducted a meeting with him strapped to my chest in a Baby Bjorn. I didn’t have it all together. There weren’t superpowers helping me balance work and home life. My back hurt. My jeans didn’t fit. But I had my baby safely next to me, and my colleague silently supporting me by simply being there and pretending not to notice the burpy third wheel.
To the mothers reading this post, I invite you to give yourself your own gift this Mother’s Day. Let yourselves flip your vinyl over so you can begin recording memories that preserve your B-side of life. Do it for yourself. Do it for your kids. They need to watch us struggle through the things that break us down. It shows them that mothers aren’t infallible. It also shows them we can build ourselves back up again. However, the process to get there can be messy, uncomfortable, and full of missteps.
I want my two sons to remember me making mistakes, trying and failing to achieve a goal, barely keeping a balance maintained between work and life. After all, their admiration for me comes from the times when we were living through a mix of moments – from the mundane to the heartbreaking – while someone else just happened to be documenting it.
To the gift-givers and people honoring their mothers, I invite you to return the favor and be the one on the sidelines now, capturing the B-side footage of your mother figures’ lives. Sometimes it takes the viewpoint of another person for those women to finally see how you appreciate the love they’ve given you over the years.
Remind her that you love her threadbare purple robe because you remember all the Sunday morning breakfasts you ate as she wore it. Capture her in it. Take a photo of her toasting with her sister so you can always remember the color of her nails. Tell her you want to take a picture of that single piece of hair that always sticks up because you find it endearing. I can’t imagine a better gift this Mother’s Day than my kids giving a lot more time and respect to our B-side lives than we do to the other. ❤️
1 Second Everyday is a video journal app. For an in-depth description of what 1SE does and how it came to be, check out the story here. Check us out at 1SE.co and follow us on our social channels here:
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