In the months I’ve been contributing to Motherlucker one thing has become painfully clear. I’m the geriatric mom in this crew. Ok. I’m 47. Not quite ready for AARP, but decidedly not young and hot and toting a baby on my hip. Which is a good thing, as toting anything these days is a bit of a problem for me. I’m long plagued by back issues, likely inherited from my dear father who suffered his whole life. I had back surgery two years ago and was in fine shape. Then a pesky disc decided to fully rupture, leaving me currently a hot mess.
Ok. I AM geriatric. I just did that thing older people do when they list their ailments whether you’re interested or not. I apologize.
I promise I have a point.
I posted a picture of myself on Instagram on the floor, watching hockey. I looked like the wicked witch of the west if she was into the NHL playoffs. Legs, feet and hockey.
I’m an over-sharer on Insta. I love it. My feed is my kids, hockey, fencing, my dogs, food and COCKTAILS. I don’t know what I was thinking posting that photograph of me prone and barefoot. But the response to the post? If I hadn’t already been lying down? You could have knocked me over with a proverbial feather.
I was awash in kind, caring comments. Many friends sent texts asking further into how I was doing. I was given helpful suggestions from ‘been there done that’ friends. One woman, Tanya Zuckerbrot, reached out to my husband to ask after me. Tanya is a nutritionist and the genius behind the F Factor diet. (Todd follows her plan religiously and dropped 20lbs. If you’re wondering how much fun it is to live with someone on a strict diet? It actually is. Tanya is all about real life. Meaning you can eat at restaurants. You can DRINK.) This remarkable woman with a incredibly successful business, a beautiful blended family and a wedding in the works saw an Instagram post, called my husband, called me and sent the most thoughtful gift basket. The grace of her actions left me overwhelmed and made me think. I had said “I’m a bit of a mess.” and Tanya was empathy personified.
One of the hardest things for me is to ask for help. It feels weak, and needy and greedy. I am the queen of “I’m-fine-land”. Please do not come and visit. It’s not a great queendom. Yet I don’t live alone there. There are many many women who share the “I’m fine” mantra. As women, I feel we’re genetically, historically, culturally predisposed to “I got this.” Perhaps it’s because for eons women have managed- under extraordinary pressures and odds- to handle the unhandleable. But that doesn’t mean we should.
When I was younger it felt strong and independent to not need help. Self-reliance was a character trait of which I was proud. And in some ways it served me well. As a child I could play for hours by myself. As an adult in the work world being self sufficient and not in need of hand holding was an asset. But as I get older I find that it’s impossible to be truly self sufficient when there are things I simply didn’t know. Motherhood presents so many “I don’t know this” moments. And let’s face it, simply because we possess the biological means to reproduce doesn’t equate to knowing everything about being a parent. In my case, in early motherhood, I’d argue I was a better babysitter before motherhood than I was an actual mother. I’m not kidding.
In days gone by families were larger and rallied around new moms and struggling friends. Today we are more spread out. We live and connect much of our lives virtually. Social media is tricky. It can alienate. It can hide the truth. Am I, Lara, presenting the ‘real’ me? I think so. Am I creating too curated a virtual life? Probably. Do I use filters? HELL YES. But that legs and hockey shot was me being honest. I admitted that while life was generally really good but I was having a bit of a day. And in allowing myself to be vulnerable I was inundated with the help people are wildly, beautifully generously willing to give. None of us do this alone. Even those who make it look easy. Asking for help is brave as hell.
I keep thinking of the Beatles song “I get by with a little help from my friends.” The truth is I THRIVE with a little help from my friends. Life may have handed me lemons in the form of wonky vertebrae. But my friends are making me lemonade. I’ll take mine with gin and champagne please! (Tanya, are French 75’s F Factor approved???)