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“Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we are all in this together.” – Brene Brown
In this era of social media and photo editing, everyone’s life looks perfect, at least on the surface. We edit what the world sees. No one likes to admit when it’s all crumbling or there is struggle – kids behaving badly, spouses plucking our nerves, the fear which lives alongside regret.
Besides, some of us hop on Facebook and Instagram to forget or reinvent ourselves. The reality we construct online is more palatable than facing who we are, minus the filter.
Several years ago I spoke with a close friend who admitted to wrestling with postpartum depression. She didn’t want anyone to think less of her so she suffered alone. How many of us, I wonder, mask our sadness? Wouldn’t it be powerful if we allowed our pain to serve as a place of connection, not isolation?
As a child, I rarely saw my own mother cry. She appeared to me as a paragon of strength, always holding everything together. Only later, as I grew older, and our relationship matured, did her vulnerability emerge. Our deeper connection, particularly now that I am a Mom, has given me the courage to cry.
It is OK to cry. I remind myself of this often, particularly on those challenging days when I am swimming in anxiety, despair, or frustration. It is OK to sit within these emotions, ingesting their weight, without wallowing in them or succumbing to self pity.
As Moms – especially for African-American women – we are taught to embrace a certain toughness. Feminity remains inextricably linked to whiteness. Vulnerability feels like a luxury we cannot afford, but clinging to this “super woman mythology” deeply wounds us, burying our voices.
Years ago the poet Audre Lorde said: “Women of Color in America have grown up within a symphony of anger, at being silenced, at being unchosen, at knowing that when we survive it is in spite of a world that takes for granted our lack of humanness, and which hates our very existence outside its service. And I say symphony rather than cacophony , because we have had to learn to orchestrate those furies so they do not tear us apart.”
And, indeed, so many of us do, suffocated by long-exalted stereotypes and misperceptions.
But Mamas, as you read these words, hold fast to this truth: tears do not weaken us, they liberate us. We release what we can no longer carry. Releasing is an essential part of humanity; we cannot move into new seasons and places of development without it.
Today, tomorrow, or the next day, if you feel the urge, go ahead and cry. It’s OK. I understand. Not one of us can navigate this parenthood path completely alone.
If we walk together, our sorrows, frustrations, and those moments of joy become the building blocks for a community of Mamas determined to embrace truth and love, not merely for themselves but generations to come.
Do you cry, or hold back your tears?
How about sharing your frustrations or fears with other Moms? Does it help when you do?