Motherhood is hard. Parenting is hard. Pregnancy itself is especially hard. You’re growing a human being inside your body; it’s going to be difficult. Even though I’ve never had kids myself, I know this is true — because there is a mountain-high pile of blog posts on the internet called things like “6 Reasons Why Pregnancy Sucks” and “At Least 70% of Being A Parent Sucks” to tell me all about the horror story that is conception and motherhood. They use the word ‘sucks’ a lot; I’m guessing it’s an associative word-choice thing thanks to the literal actions of their, apparently parasitic, newborn children.
Okay, not parasitic. That was harsh. But, c’mon, speaking as someone who would really like children of my own someday, can y’all maybe share some of the good stuff as well as the bad? The beauty of the experience is always added as an afterthought, like, “I wouldn’t trade it for the world, though!” Really? You wouldn’t trade it for the world? Because those 800 words made it sound like you’re basically held hostage and sending for help under the cover of a ‘hilarious’ and ‘honest’ blog post.
Honest is the word that gets thrown around a lot, and for good reason. Listen, for a long time (and I’m sure even now) moms were pressured beyond belief to only present the good stuff, to never complain, to put on this mask of being the perfect, unstressed, supermom. Any crack you allowed through your perfectly mascaraed facade was cause for narrow-eyed judgement from the President of the PTA and her minions. So I get it — I understand where these blogs are coming from. It’s a swing in the other direction, a sincere expression of honesty, a spirit of commiseration, all based on the completely valid urge to connect to those who are struggling as much as you are. I’m not judging the writers at all; I know many moms who are not only encouraged, but delighted, by these types of articles.
All I’m asking is, y’know, for the rest of us (and presumably for the proliferation of the species), will you also tell us some of the good stuff? I know there are going to be difficult times as a parent. I know it’s a tough job. I know I’ll fart too much when I’m with child. But I also really just want to hear about the magic pregnant-belly glow, or how exciting it is to teach your kid to swim, or the ways that parenting brought you and your partner together. Those things exist too, right? Right?! Because, let’s be honest, the only way I’m going to choose pregnancy is if I can somehow convince myself that I’ll be the pregnancy-unicorn character in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I don’t want to be the Elizabeth Banks character, guys. I mean, in real life I absolutely want to be Elizabeth Banks. Almost more than I want to be myself. But in pregnancy, I want to somehow still be able to wear stilettos. Or at least believe I can (however delusionally).
That’s why, when I discovered the Instagram account Pregnant & Perfect (and their corresponding website) I honestly breathed a sigh of relief. I didn’t realize how much I wanted this community until I found it! Their tagline, “Embracing the beauty in pregnancy and the joys of motherhood” says everything you need to know. Embracing the beauty. That’s a picture of reaching out, intentionally pulling in, and holding close. It’s not stumbling across accidental beauty. It’s embracing the inherent beauty that you have, that every pregnant woman has (well, that every woman has, but this is about pregnancy, okay?). It’s relishing that beauty, even if it also kind of sucks a little. Even if it sucks a lot.
As the administrator of the page says, “This page was born to lift the spirit of any Pregnant lady, feeling she isn’t beautiful anymore, showing her that she cannot look any more stunning than when pregnant. That she has the most unique accessory to ‘slay,’ which is her bump — and she’ll only have it for 9 months.”
In fact, the page itself started when the founder was having a really rough pregnancy (she even puked at a job interview!). Although she felt miserable, she focused on enjoying as much of it as she could, making herself up to look fabulous as often as possible, and telling herself it was just a few months — and, according to her, this process helped a lot.
I can see why. Sure, there’s definitely a place for the ‘commiseration’ posts — pregnancy and parenting is rough. We shouldn’t force mothers to pretend they’re happy when they’re not, and it’s important to get support. But there is also a certain loveliness to celebrating how beautiful those nine months are, to seeing another amazing mama rock that adorable bikini and thinking to yourself, maybe I could do that… The administrator of the page confirms: “We get dozens of emails from women around the world telling us of how we uplift them everyday by posting these images.” Pregnancy isn’t quite so scary when we have a chance to look at the pretty side, right?
Okay, sure, maybe I won’t be in stilettos, but I can still get maternity skinny-jeans and a cute sheath top. If she can do it, why shouldn’t I?
But if you harbor any doubt about the genuine love these people feel for their community of mamas, consider the open-door policy of Pregnant and Perfect. From their website: “If you just want to drop by and say hello or just need to chat with someone, we are here for you. We are a team of mothers and friends who know about the importance of a stress-free pregnancy.”
The administrators go on to affirm, “We welcome [anyone] to send emails, even if they just need to talk to someone…We do not take for granted the importance of support and giving listening ears or lending a helping hand during pregnancy and through motherhood.” Their job, their purpose, their joy, is to lift up mothers — and that is truly beautiful.
I’m not planning on getting pregnant anytime soon. But when I do (someday) see those two pink little lines, I know who I’m going to call.
And by call, of course, I mean tag enthusiastically on Instagram.