What do women around the world think of raising children?
What do mothers all over the world do all day?
What do they dream about for their children? Does it matter where they live? Does it matter how much money they have? Does it matter if they live in a small apartment or a big house?
Are mothers in other countries happier, or not?
Over the last two years, I've had the opportunity to get to know mothers all over the world. Each of them has been on their own journey of being a peaceful, playful and present mother. They've been busy transforming their families along the way reporting more happiness, more meaningful moments and more connection.
These truths were created with the help of moms who live in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Malaysia, Germany, Scotland, England, Trinidad, Norway, Iceland and nearly every single state of the United States.
These truths are a glimpse into the reality of modern mothers today who are faced with a constant push-pull to be more than they can be in a single day -- but they try. Oh, they try.
Now onto those truths ...
Truth No. 1: We are all perfectionists.
The truth is that we all want the perfect life, the perfect house, the perfect DIY project to fill our days. We all want perfectly behaved children and perfectly written homework and perfect dinners. We all want more time for ourselves and more time with our family. We all want more money. We all want more joyful days. We all want a clean house and decent clothes and a child who doesn't say "I hate you."
Truth No. 2: We all seek -- but rarely attain -- a balanced life.
The truth is we are never going to have enough time for ourselves. The truth is there is no right way or wrong way to find and achieve balance while raising children. In fact, there is only a constant effort, re-assessment and adjusting to find the right way to keep the balls of raising children, working, living, dreaming and housekeeping in the air without dropping a single thing. Balance is a journey, not a destination.
Truth No. 3: Mothers (and fathers) yell for a reason.
The truth is sometimes we yell. The truth is that we don't want to yell. The truth is we know yelling isn't helpful. The truth is we want to stop yelling. We'll do just about anything to stop yelling but so many of our attempts fail. To stop yelling feels impossible, just like breaking any bad habit is difficult. But once we do stop we realize how good it feels, how empowering, how life-changing it is.
Truth No. 4: We all need more time for ourselves.
The truth is that finding time is hard. The truth is that taking time is hard. The truth is that cherishing time is hard. The truth is that if we had more time we'd still feel like we don't have enough time. Time is like water. It slips through our hands and evaporates unless we know how to conserve it.
Truth No. 5: We all just want to feel like we're enough.
The truth is that every mama has a day when she feels the weight of motherhood so heavy on her chest she can barely breathe. The truth is that every mama desperately needs to feel like she is enough, especially when she isn't sure what she's doing, which is all the time.
Truth No. 6: We are all lonely.
The truth is that every mama has -- or still -- feels very lonely and left to scramble and survive on her own, often for days or weeks -- or months -- at a time. And it's so hard sometimes that she uses the Internet to cure her of that need to connect with adults.
Truth No. 7: We all feel the pros and cons of social media.
The truth is that every mama has found connections and friendship online in ways that help her not feel so lonely. But at the same time she also finds herself drawn into the world of social media to the detriment of her family, home and children. Social media is both something we're gripping onto tightly and a tightrope that we're desperately trying to navigate carefully.
Truth No. 8: We are all clueless.
The truth is that what works for one family doesn't work for another. the truth is that tips from one parenting book work one day, but not the next. The truth is that ideas from one parenting blog sound good but when implemented, backfire. There is no right way or wrong way. Just our way and the sooner we realize that the happier we become.
Truth No. 9: We all have to learn to trust ourselves.
The truth is that we do know what we're doing. The truth is that we do know our children best. The truth is that we are doing a better job than we even know, most of the time. Learning to trust what we know to be best, what we know to be ideal for ourselves and our families is the best gift we can ever give ourselves.
Truth No. 10: We're all afraid of messing up.
The truth is that we're terrified of missing out on something. The truth is that we're scared to death that we're not being the best we can be. The truth is that we're afraid we're not perfect and that our children, the neighbors, the fellow parents at school will figure that out. The truth is that we're all chasing the perfect-mother myth.
Shawn Fink is the founder of The Abundant Mama Project, a community for moms seeking peace.