When a cashier commented on her cute, well-behaved kids on a recent shopping trip, Cierra Fortner laughed and thanked her before heading to the parking lot.
On the drive home, however, Fortner realized what she should have said to the cashier — that her assessment was far from the truth and that the mom-of-two's life was not perfect.
Fortner later took to Facebook to write about the reality of her life, admitting that she struggles with depression and anxiety, and "can't always get (herself) up off the couch to feed (her kids) anything more than frozen pizza and cereal."
"I want her to know I have those 'I'm losing my shit' moments when I have to lock myself in the bathroom and cry," Fortner wrote in the viral post. "I want her to know that I hadn't washed my hair in 3 days and my kids hadn't had a bath in 2... But most importantly, I want her to know I don't have it together and may never have it all together."
Fortner, who lives in Missouri with her husband, Brett, and their two sons, Jayce, 4, and Brenton, 10 months, told TODAY Parents that she decided to write the post because she often sees moms projecting that they have it all together, and feels pressure to have her own life in perfect order.
"I think if more moms were honest about how their day-to-day lives really are, then it would be easier to make friends and bond with the mothers around us," said Fortner. "I wanted to share that I didn't have it together because I think it's important for mothers to see it's OK not to have it together and not to stress over keeping it all together."
Fortner says she has learned that it's OK to take a break, ask for help, and build a strong support system.
"Raising children isn't easy...I do feel moms get too busy taking care of kids and forget about themselves," said Fortner. "I wanted moms to see that it's OK to not always be OK. I wanted them to realize that they aren't alone, and that what they're feeling isn't completely out of the norm."
In her post, Fortner offers this advice to her fellow moms.
"From one exhausted mom to another, you're doing great, have that meltdown, let your kids eat the crap out of that cereal and take care of yourself always."