Permission to vent?
A good friend once sent me a tweet that read:
“If you don’t constantly complain about being a parent, you’re probably not doing much parenting” @DadandBuried
On that particular morning, those words spoke to my very soul. With a two-month-old who had blown through his diaper onto your white sheets, and a two-and-a-half-year-old who was loudly insisting on eating M&Ms for breakfast, it was only 7am and it had already been *a day*. I was still trying to find my sea legs as a newly-minted mother of two (who am I kidding, I’m STILL trying to find those damn sea legs), and my days were blessed with their fair share of irritating, exasperating and downright confusing moments (“you painted WHAT with the diaper cream?!”). In that moment, I wanted nothing more than to plop my baby in the swing, throw my toddler an iPad and pepper my friend with an endless stream of venting about how I was bending over backwards for these kids, and would it kill them to show some appreciation?
Not so fast. One of the things I’ve started doing with my mom friends is asking for permission to vent. It may seem trivial, but it goes a long way in respecting your friends’ headspace and capacity to absorb negativity. For some people, externalizing feelings is an important step in processing and overcoming challenges. However, unrequitedly showering your fellow mamas with tales of spilled breast milk and nagging in-laws fails to recognize that your friend might not be quite ready to listen just then.
By asking for permission before unloading all your frustrations, you’re giving your friend the space to respond to your message when they’re truly ready hear you out.
Maybe they’re having a hell of a day themselves. Maybe they “just can’t” after spending an hour listening to their mother-in-law sing the praises of her babies who slept through the night from birth (so your baby must be broken, right?). Or maybe they just want to have a glass of wine and unwind before they make themselves available to listen, empathize and offer advice.
It’s no secret that #momlife is wonderful and incredibly rewarding, but that it also pushes us to the limits of our sanity. Having friends in the trenches with you helps to navigate the trials and challenges of motherhood, and those friendships are important. But it’s also important to manage them with respect and empathy. We’re all working hard, every day, to give our tiny humans the lives they deserve. Asking for permission to vent is a good habit that helps prevent exhausting one of our most precious resources: our mama friends.
Now, soldier on, mamas. Permission granted.