When the doorbell rings at 7:15 a.m., I’m in a fog. We have three kids under age 4, including a newborn, and we’re remodeling the upstairs.
The construction crew promised not to arrive before 8 a.m., and yet here they are. I rush to find appropriate clothes — wishing I had an “appropriate clothes” drawer. I wrestle into a sweatshirt as I holler “Come in!” They run up the stairs, then quickly run down.
“We can NOT work under these circumstances,” one says. And just like that, they are gone.
I run to the upstairs bedroom to find baby poo on the walls and every spindle of the crib. It has solidified, like concrete.
The baby’s diaper must have blown out moments after I put him to bed. I thought he had slept through the night, but as it turns out, I had slept through the night.
Now, out of sheer exhaustion, he was sleeping like a poopie little angel. He had doo doo in his eye lashes, his hair and his ears.
That’s when I heard it, in my own Southern accent: Someone else would probably do a better job raising your kids.
I know I’m not the only mom who beats herself up over less-than-perfect child-rearing. I’m not the only mom who worries she’s not doing enough, or being enough. So at my last speaking engagement, I asked some other moms to offer up lies they tell themselves. Here are some common themes, followed by truths.
I’m messing up my kids. I feel this way when I’m hurried, angry and hollering at my children. But I have to remind myself that these are momentary circumstances. If we mess up today, we’ll get plenty of do-overs. Did you feed your kids today? Did they have a warm bed to sleep in? Is there love in your home? Then congratulations — you’re the best mom ever! Kids don’t see our mess-ups like we do. They wear rose-colored glasses, full of unconditional love. Let’s see ourselves through their eyes.
I should be able to do it all. I often think I should wear all the hats: the nurse, the nurturer, the counselor, the cook. But I’m only one person. It’s important to let others feed our children’s souls. Let those with other talents and gifts shine, like grandparents and teachers. When we send our kids to school, there’s a PE coach, a cafeteria worker, a bus driver and parent volunteers. We can’t expect one person alone to create optimal success. Let’s appreciate our limits and learn to accept that it takes a village.
Janie is cooler, hipper — better at everything — than me. It’s so easy to compare our neighborhoods, our kids, our cars, our jobs, ourselves. Social media tells us everyone is doing it better. I have to remember to stay in my lane and appreciate my unique circumstances. Camelback Mountain and Pinnacle Peak have distinct features. Comparing denies their uniqueness. The same goes for us.
I’m stuck. Seasons of life — good or bad — don’t last forever. Some days it feels like the baby will never stop crying and the teenagers will always act like persnickety cats. That amazing job, the crabby teen attitude, the rash on baby Liam’s butt; it’s all fleeting. Let’s hang tight for the winds to change. We’re not stuck, just transitioning. We’ve got this.
I should be somewhere else. We walk around with mom guilt, like a well-placed black cloud, because we’re torn in so many directions. We have a 50 percent chance of making the right choice. Give yourself grace. Wherever you are is where you are supposed to be.
The to-do list is boss. Life’s home runs and failures should not be measured by how far down the to-do list we make it today. Perhaps you need to hang out with the kids on the floor today. Or spend some time with your teenager before she heads off to college. Maybe the dishes are left unwashed. Don’t connect the to-do list to your worth.
I can’t start until everything is perfect. “I’ll start on Monday.” How many times have I said this? But life is a live production, and there is nothing magical about Mondays. If we wait until everything is perfect, we’ll never start. We can’t expect fallible creatures to be flawless. We’ve got to start, right now, where we are.
Moms, let’s quit being so hard on ourselves, thinking we need to do all things at once and do them perfectly. Here’s to all the warriors out there — with no “appropriate clothes” drawer — who are writing their stories, daily, and who have always been Enough.