This week, I’ve been giving my alarm clock the metaphorical middle finger. I am under the weather, and so are my kids, and it’s spring break. Last week was the first week of daylight savings, and after 7 days of feeling extraordinarily exhausted, my body succumbed to a raging sore throat and a heap of weird aches. My eldest daughter spent the day on our couch yesterday while her puppy made it his mission to terrorize my life. For real, I was tempted to put him outside and leave him there. Indefinitely. Why do I agree to these things?
When I’m in my house, all day long, with all three of my kids and all of everyone’s stuff everywhere, my brain starts to scramble. I cleaned the kitchen up three times yesterday, from nuclear bomb to pristine landscape. Why do we need to eat so often, and why do we make such a mess? Everything feels like its boiling over the top of the pan.
And, to make matters worse, I’m inclined to ponder what other families are doing during their time off together. I wonder how other moms are making their staycation with their kids more memorable, while I try very hard not to strangle the puppy.
Life is Messy
All of this to say…life is messy. The picture in my head reflects a magazine show home, with clean EVERYTHING, perfectly placed décor, and organization systems that would make Marie Kondo horny. The visual in front of me is a far cry from the picture in my head. And it occurred to me that I’ve done this to myself, as a human, as well.
When I was young, I envied the people I knew who were dedicated to one endeavor, one skill, one niche. They worked at whatever it was tirelessly, mastering their craft, and becoming remarkable at it. I would try different things, invested for a nanosecond, then promptly get distracted by something else. SQUIRREL! It’s a part of who I am I think I’ve always been ashamed of, and something I’ve never stopped believing that I should change. That word ‘should’ gets thrown around a lot in my vocabulary.
Maybe It’s Just Me
I grew up with pretty unbelievable parents. They have a love story for the ages, iron-clad integrity, intelligence, creativity, and work ethic for days, and they never.lost.their.cool. I am not joking. My parents were calm, cool, and collected in every scenario (that I can recall) of my upbringing. I also never saw them get into anything that even resembled an argument.
You could eat a meal off the floor of my dad’s garage. I was trained to wipe the water off of fixtures in the bathroom so spots had no business taking up residence. My mom is a brilliant cook and baker, seamstress, and knitter. She is a writer, an artist, and has a sense of humor that cannot be deterred. My dad has a skill set that ranges from mechanic to carpenter to pilot and everything in between. The list goes on. Do you feel inadequate yet? Maybe it’s common for offspring to feel this way about their parents. Maybe it’s just me.
Full Spectrum of Human Emotions
When I got pregnant for the first time at age 19, I didn’t think about how being a mother would be an endeavor I would stick with. It didn’t occur to me that this would be the “thing” I put consistent effort into, day in and day out, never leaving it behind because I became distracted by something else.
I was caught off guard by how incredibly raw and vulnerable this journey would make me, and the corners of my heart that would be revealed along the way. Aside from marriage and motherhood, nothing in life has pushed me further, demanded as much, nor humbled me as repeatedly. To be a mother is to experience humanity in its entirety; there is no escaping the full spectrum of human emotions.
As for my children: they are growing up knowing their mom is a full blown, far from perfect, human-being. They see a person who wears her heart on her sleeve, always understands the importance of self-control, but sometimes loses it. Then, they watch me take accountability, hear me apologize, and feel me wrap them in a tight hug, vowing to do better next time.
Getting Back Up
Mistakes are opportunities to learn, and proof that we are trying. They aren’t notches in the belt of shame. The older I get, the more I understand how little I know. Instead of deterring me, that awareness both humbles and excites me. I appreciate the chance to learn new things and unlearn old things that no longer serve me. So, if I’m in new territory (when is parenthood NOT new territory, I implore you to ask yourself), and I stumble and fall flat on my face sometimes, isn’t what counts whether or not I get back up?
The truth is, I’ve had a punch pass to ride the struggle bus of comparison for most of my life. It really sucks. And while human beings are hard wired for comparison, I’m disembarking at every stop I can. I may never feel like I can reach the high water mark that my parents embody in my mind, but I can choose to stop riding the bus that tells me I won’t.
In the meantime, I have to commend myself and every single other mama out there for taking the path of motherhood one.day.at.a.time. It is noble work, it doesn’t always come easy, and sticking with it makes you master of yourself. Who could ask for anything more?