I recently watched Netflix's The Lost Daughter, directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal. No spoilers here! You can keep reading. It's about a woman named Leda, whose children are grown, and now she is watching a young, struggling mom, Nina, which triggers her to have flashbacks to being a young mom herself. I have not read the book it's based on, but I would classify the movie as a drama with minimal action. However, the movie spoke to me and took me back to having three young children and feeling isolated, tired almost all the time, and overwhelmed. It amazes me how this cycle keeps repeating itself from generation to generation and how little support moms receive.
In the movie, Leda really desires to pursue a career; however, she is the default caregiver to her two small daughters, and everything else has to take a backseat. There are scenes in the film where Leda and her husband have career conflicts, and for a reason, we don't know, his career gets to take precedent, and Leda becomes a supporting cast member in building her husband's career. In the movie, Leda makes drastic, unhealthy choices. Like many women, she was put in an impossible, mentally draining, physically exhausting situation and was frustrated at the lack of being able to fulfill her own hopes and dreams.
Whether you work in or out of the home, being a mom is not a 9 – 5 job. Most of my days start at about 6 am and end around 11 pm or later. I really can't tell if smartphones have made being a mom easier or more difficult. My mom wasn't accessible 24/7 by text message or phone when I was growing up. Don't get me wrong, I love being there for my kiddos, but there is really no downtime.
My kids have two households they spend time between. Even when they are with their other parent, mom is still mom. So, I continue to field their questions, hear their feelings and get the day-to-day play-by-play. I do this while keeping up with all the dirty clothes they left behind, attending the sporting and school events, and trying to squeeze in a few extra minutes of sleep, not to mention trying to piece together something of a personal life while at times still shuttling them to and from places.
The Lost Daughter also highlights the horrendous behavior of mom-shaming. I feel as moms, we are all doing the best we can, yet I see this awful behavior a lot. Really, as women, we have not evolved more? Just last week, another mom said to me, your kids spend time with their dad. You're not a full-time mom. I'm I missing the off switch to motherhood somewhere? I didn’t really know how to respond. I simply said, I disagree. This weekend they are at their dad's, and Saturday, I will be driving our daughter 3.5 hours one way for a sports competition. It doesn’t stop based on what home they are sleeping at. This is the type of unnecessary, malicious comment intended to tear down other women.
I have great mom friends and a community that broadly supports each other. Why can't we do more of that, provide more support and love? The women I know that fully and sincerely support other moms are very successful in many accepts of their lives. Being a mom is the best and the most demanding role a person can ever have. It is full of joy, laughter, lots of love, and giggles but balanced with sleepless nights, sick kids, and endless piles of laundry. Having that feeling of community and support is essential in building up moms and, in turn, making great solid kids that will turn into amazing, capable adults. Let’s reach out and build those circles and communities.