A Rat Race That Cannot Be Won

“I’m ready to lean OUT.”

Sarah Buckley Friedberg

A Facebook rant by a Needham, MA mother of three ends with this: “I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to lean OUT.” Since writing her viral post, Sarah Buckley Friedberg garnered over 79,000 likes, 18,000 comments and 72,000 shares. She certainly has hit a cord, mostly among similarly situated, privileged (I’d argue, predominantly white) women and mothers.

What is it about her post that resonates with so many people? I’m exhausted reading the post, let alone being a working mother of two trying to achieve all that she talks about. Society’s expectation that we must be put together, skinny and fit, well-rested, well-adjusted, well-groomed, ambitious, financially contributing members of our families coupled with raising kids who are well-fed, well-balanced and well-rounded (be proficient in at least one sport, instrument and other activity), curious, high-achieving explorers is simply impossible and unfair. It is an unspoken truth that the same is not, and will never be, expected of the opposite sex.

I love this part of Ms. Buckley’s post:

"Recycle. Be Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the birthday planner, the poop doula (seriously when will this end), the finder of lost things, the moderator of fights. Be fun. Be firm. Read books. Have dance parties."

I’ve written a lot about this but my solution to these ridiculous, untenable societal expectations is to ignore them as much as possible. Of course, I’m susceptible to them as much as the next woman is but the more we try to achieve these unrealistic, soul-crushing, goals, the more will be expected of us. It’s a rat race that cannot be won.

One of the reasons I started Messy Bliss a few years ago was to encourage us to question these notions, to embrace the messy imperfections and to find joy and happiness in all of it. Let’s cultivate a counterculture of being who we are, strong women who strengthen, support and promote one another and delight in and celebrate each other’s messiness unapologetically. The more that we can do that, the less these expectations will matter to us all and the less pressure we will all feel. So let’s do more of the leaning out and just being instead.

Who were you BC (Before Children)? (Plus some Montreal recs)

Happy Self

Happy Self

Last Thursday was my son's last of school. We packed up my son and daughter that evening and sent them with my parents to CT to begin their summer holidays. Kishore and I are without our children for a whole week! That's seven days that we have completely to ourselves and we are milking every minute of it. Along with most parents I know, we are usually in the throes of logistics from making lunches to worrying about dinner, from making sure the kids are properly clothed and sunscreened to ensuring that the children are trying a diversity of activities, let alone being responsible for the children's emotional and moral well-being. Simply put, it's exhausting. So we bid goodbye to our beloved children, put on our shoes, went for a walk through the neighborhood and grabbed a drink at the Charles Hotel. We continued our respite with an escape to Montreal for the weekend, rekindling our connection with each other as well as rediscovering parts of ourselves.

We arrived in Montreal on Friday afternoon and began our love affair with all things Montreal. This was our fourth time in Montreal but the last two had been with the kids. It's amazing how quickly we were able to maneuver through the city, how much we were able to see and do and how different of an experience it was for us. We stayed at a modern, boutique hotel on the edge of Old Montreal called Hotel Gault. From the high ceilings to the well-appointed rooms, we began our rendezvous in style.

Around the corner from our hotel was one of the best restaurants I have ever been to- olive+gourmando. What a treat! We literally ate there every day of our trip. From the presentation of the food to the use of local ingredients, it was pure heaven. We indulged our taste buds with fresh breads, tartines with homemade ricotta, seasonal fruits and vegetables, egg and cheese sandwiches with sriracha sauce!... I could go on and on and my descriptions are not doing justice to the quality and taste of the food (see the picture below). On Friday night, we were directed to Lov- a vegetarian restaurant. This place was chic and hip (the crowd was too!) and unlike any vegetarian restaurant I have ever been to. What was nice was that the fare was not just fake meats presented in conventional ways. From quinoa fritters (using jack fruit as a main ingredient!) to sriracha fries to sweet potato gnocchi we thoroughly enjoyed our vegetarian meal.

On Saturday morning, we deliciously slept in until 10AM! That never happens with our children. We rented bikes through Montreal's bike-share program called BIXI and biked around the islands, culminating in a visit to the Biosphère. Montreal has done an exquisite job of creating bike paths around the canals and the islands; there were many locals who were also riding on these paths. It made seeing the city fun and exciting. We had crepes for a late-lunch and then meandered through the streets of Old Montreal. After a short rest at the

Hotel Gault

Hotel Gault

Sunday was another great day of fun. After another brunch at olive+gourmando (yes, it really is that good), we went on bike ride up Lachine Canal. After eating a quick lunch, we left Montreal to make it to Gillette Stadium to see one of our favorite bands play, U2, and their Joshua Tree Tour. We remarked at how facile movement can be sans children including a 6 hour road trip. While we thoroughly indulged over the weekend, we did miss our children and spoke of them, and to them, often. We remarked on what we would like to show the kids upon our next visit to Montreal and took videos of the U2 concert in hopes of cultivating another generation of fans.

This much-needed respite enabled me to not only connect with Kishore but also to reclaim parts of myself that existed BC. I was reminded that I love traveling and discovering new places. I love meeting new people and experiencing new things. I love good food and conversation with wine as an accompaniment, of course. I love comfortable walking shoes. I love window shopping, crowds and people-watching. I love dressing effortlessly chic. In unearthing these parts of myself that have been buried by Pokémon, caution, stuffed animals and responsibility, I felt happy, light, and liberated. I felt alive.

I vowed after this trip to bridge more of my BC-self with my AC (After Children)-self. I vowed to let the kids see more of this side of me- the woman who loves discovering and exploring new things, who enjoys finding herself amid the different, who is light and carefree, who loves to explore on foot or bike, who wants to just be. My hope is that exposing my children to this side of me will also help influence them to be and seek who they are, encourage discovery and exploration and foster a love of traveling similar to Kishore and me.

Who were you BC? Have you been able to bridge your BC-self with your AC-self? How?

PS- Thanks to my parents for watching the kids! We are so fortunate to have you in our lives.

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Sushi Momo.

Amazing vegetarian sushi