The thing is, moms are tired.
They're also confused a lot of the time.
And they feel lost, like the days before GPS when we used to print out directions from Map Quest -- like actually print them out on paper -- and then just as you were glancing down at the paper, the exit flew by you.
That kind of lost.
And there's a lot of noise. From competing opinions and books and parenting magazines and websites and other parents and especially from inside their own homes where all the loud, loud, wildly noisy, loud children live.
And moms, they wake up after having spent a night being woken up and they walk out into all that loudness and confused lost chaos.
They do it with eyes still squinting at the light, scrabbling for contact lenses or glasses and a cup of hot tea with plenty of sugar.
They try to make sense of the math homework they're supposed to send back completed with their kid and they feel more proud of the three spelling sentences they got the one who weeps over English homework to write than they ever could have imagined in the days when they used to sleep in till noon.
There were days they used to sleep in.
They can't remember those days anymore.
Their bodies are programmed to wake up at o'toddler dark thirty even when they're on vacation.
They have degrees and life dreams and grand plans for who they planned to grow up into. Maybe part of that included being a mom. Maybe they always wanted to be a mom but never realized how unexciting it can be a lot of the time. Well that can get them a bit lost. It can leave them feeling out in the deep, dark, overgrowth and it can be scary.
It can be lonely.
It can feel like a hamster wheel on repeat and then repeat again.
And they don't understand why everyone else seems to understand what they're doing.
They don't understand how other mothers are functioning at such a high level of normalcy while they are also waking up with a nursing infant. How do they do it?
Two of the loneliest years of my life were the first two of motherhood.
When I looked around me in amazed wonder at the mothers who arrived at playdates and church with blow dried hair and beautifully put together children and attitudes.
I was so lost inside my own skin. So desperately confused about who I was supposed to be; what I was supposed to look like. The things I was supposed to say. I watched the moms around me and I mimicked how they cooed over their babies in the praise and worship at a Sunday morning service. When I would have been more than happy to have slept in -- half starved for sleep -- and left the praise to his grandparents and done my own worship at the thought of two consecutive hours of sleep.
Not one mom in two years told me she found it hard. That it wasn't easy or natural or normal to suddenly be in charge of another human being.
And I smiled and smiled and smiled and said very little because I was working so hard at fitting in.
Looking back, I feel so sad for that new mama. I want to reach back through time and over and just squeeze her knee and tell her, "It's going to be OK. It's normal to feel this tired. It really is. It gets better."
I want so badly for someone to tell her the truth about the exhaustion and how hard nursing can be and that everyone who looks so put together at church -- there are none of us immune from the meltdowns and feelings of inadequacy. I want so badly for someone to take her aside and ask how she's really doing. For someone, anyone, to mentor her and admit their own hard days. To be willing to go first. To tell her how frustrated they were at the thought of even beginning the tedious process of trying to leave the house.
I want someone to ruthlessly admit to her that they don't have it altogether.
That's where you come in.
You can tell the truth.
That we're most of us lost. And that's OK.
It's OK if we're in it together. Grab another mom's hand today. Or pass her the coffee or a slice of cake. Or just a nod as you maneuver your cart around her in Target, at the checkout, in line outside the preschool, waiting for your teen at the skate park.
Or better yet, say it out loud. Tell her. Throw a life presever of words in her direction.
Be a wildly encouraging truth teller by inviting her over on the days when your house isn't perfect. When your temper's not in tact. When your kids aren't behaving.
Invite her into your real inside life.
And watch how it makes you both feel better. Braver. Ready for tomorrow.
A shared reminder that you are braver than you know because you mother.
Lisa-Jo Baker is bestselling author of the newly released book, Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected About Being a Mom.