For Women's Day last year, I was treated to a trip to the spa with a friend. Those two hours we spent spoiling ourselves at the spa while our wonderful husbands looked after the four children under 3 1/2 that we had between us was absolute heaven.
It had been longer than I could remember since I had a truly relaxing break from everything. In the three years and three months since my eldest child was born, my husband and I had been on exactly six dates, I had spent one night away from home (apart from my time in hospital having my second child -- which felt like a holiday) and the holidays we had were harder work than "term time" when we have some help with our kids in the form of playschool.
We have a friend who lives on a farm about 90 minutes away and spends weekends in our cottage so that he can be in the city for a few days a week. He has become like a brother, and has seen our family in every circumstance and all states of dress (me in pajamas sans makeup and hair... well, let's just not talk about the hair), every possible mood (just think about a 3-year-old and a toddler before 8 a.m. pre-breakfast and post-difficult night trying out well, everything.)
One particularly loud and chaotic morning, on the day of my eldest son's birthday party, I stood next to our family friend in my pink-striped socks and looked around the havoc that was our home in that moment and stated, "Now THIS is what we should put on Facebook. Welcome to our real life. Our insane, loud, crazy, messy, mucky, happy, shouting, crying, cooking, cleaning (at some point) real life. Take it or leave it -- this is how it really is."
I know you have experienced this -- the problem is that so few of us are actually honest in sharing the true challenges of parenthood and we like to pretend everything is absolutely perfect in our homes when, actually, what we really desperately need more than anything else in the world is just two hours of escape.
I also know that it is sometimes easier to hide behind perfection, pretending everything is fine -- great, actually! Sure, you have two children under 2... the eldest may be sleeping, but the youngest certainly isn't. The youngest is most likely waking the eldest, the eldest is having to adjust to this change in your family structure and is throwing tantrums off the Richter scale and you are doing your best to handle it all -- get them to eat (in front of the TV) so that they will (hopefully) sleep long enough for you to have some time with your husband, or to yourself or (shhhhh...) some actual sleep of your own so that you can get up before any of your children wake, get dressed and ready so that you can get them dressed and up and fed and out of the house to run to whatever next appointment you have to go to to pretend that (breathe) everything is just Great.
No. It's not. It's hard. It sucks picking poo up out of the bathwater with your bare hands and flushing it down the toilet. It is demoralizing cooking food that your toddler turns his or her nose up at until you resort, once again, to scrambled eggs. It is incredibly, unimaginably difficult keeping calm while your 2-year-old throws an absolute hurricane of a fit, kicking and screaming and thrashing about on the ground. But you do -- you try to -- and, most of the time, you get it kind-of OK.
It is also quite simply magnificent, beautiful and wonder-filled to be a mom. It is the most rewarding thing you will ever do and, without a doubt, the most important job on earth. Harold B. Lee once said, "The most important of the Lord's work you will ever do will be the work you do within the walls of your own home."
But you can't do it alone. It takes a village to raise a child. We need to start tapping into our villages -- and being kinder to ourselves and others. We need to start taking two hours to ourselves on Women's Day so that we can rest, and recoup, and then drive home to do it all over again.
Let's be honest with ourselves, with others, with everyone we can help by just, simply, being real.
This post originally appeared on www.halfdaymum.com - the site that offers you the resources you need to become the woman and mum you were always meant to be: to discover more about yourself, prioritize your time and focus your passion on the things that are most authentically important to you.