When Life Hands You Lemons

A friend of mine received some bad news recently and, like we all do, needed to vent. Social media was the easiest platform. She admitted she was venting and went on to share what was weighing her down.

And then the cheer chorus began: “Aww, it’ll be OK,” “You’re an awesome mom and you’ll get through this,” “Prayers,” and “Hugs.” You know the drill.

Can she handle it? Yes. She’s a great mom, and she will work through it.

But that doesn’t change the fact that it sucks. It blows. It’s going to be a huge pain in the posterior to deal with. It’s not life threatening—thank goodness—but it is life altering. And that’s OK. It’s not what she expected, but she’ll adjust.

It’s also OK that she wants to vent. Pity party for one, table right over here. There’s nothing wrong with that. Let her vent. A good cry is cathartic. So is just letting it out. That may mean an ugly cry in the shower, an angry chat with that voice in her head (c’mon, we all talk to ourselves, especially when we’re mad), or whatever it is that lets out some of the pressure.

That mom really is fully equipped to handle it, and at some point, she will. Moms always do. It may not be pretty or perfect, but we handle it. But sometimes, we just need to let it out. We need to give whatever problem/issue/roadblock we’re dealing with some air, take a breath, and feel blah for a bit so we can recover and move forward.

Putting the news out there for your circle or the world to know, doesn’t mean you’re looking for the cheer party to step in and make you feel good. But that’s how we react.

We read it (c’mon, we’re moms, so no one has time to actually TALK to another mom, right??) on social media or in a text and—BAM!—cue the pompoms. Everyone jumps in with “You can do this. You’re the perfect person to take this on.”

But that may not be what she needs. It’s OK to validate those feelings, the frustration, the anger, the annoyance, the suck. We’ve all been there. We’ve all wanted to let it out, to just tell someone what’s rattling around our head. Saying—or typing—it can mean we just want to be heard, not always helped.

By the time I saw her news, there were multiple comments that basically boiled down to “you can do this! You’re a great mom.” And those well-meaning messages were all true. She can handle it. But it’s not something she wanted to handle. NONE of us need anything more on our plate. And the thought of one of our kids having to tackle something else is something no mom wants to hear.

I didn’t join in the chorus. I sent her a private message instead. I told her I was sorry and that what she is facing sucks. Because it does. It’s a kick in the gut. Is it something that she can manage, work through, and successfully tackle? Yes. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s not something anyone wants to deal with.

Rather than go for the Hallmark sentiments, I acknowledged that what she was facing was a mountain. And when you’re standing at the bottom of that mountain and know you have to climb it, it’s OK to be upset. It’s OK to question, “Why me???” It’s OK to be reeling for a bit and not immediately go into supermom mode.

We’re all so busy being cheerleaders that we sometimes skip over the bad stuff. Rather than just acknowledging the suck of whatever the news may be, we go into “You can do it!” mode. We immediately kick into motivating, cheering, and pushing that person on because that’s what we think will help.

But sometimes, we just need to let that person breathe and let them know that it’s OK to be upset, angry, confused, overwhelmed—whatever emotions that are washing over them. Because it really is OK to feel all of that. When life hands you lemons, you don’t always want to make lemonade. Sometimes you just want to hurl them back and tell the world to suck on them.

Sooner or later, that mom will make lemonade (or an awesome cocktail). She’ll come through the challenge better, bolder, stronger, smarter, and more awesome than she already is. Until then, let her vent. She just needs to know that she’s been heard and that when the time is right, you’re ready to help her squeeze that lemonade.

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