I was reviewing some memories on social media this morning and I came across this post. It still rings really true for me three years later, and I wanted to revise and revive it a bit, and add a paragraph acknowledging our current state of being. Right now the last thing we need is to down on each other or ourselves for not being perfect in the middle of a pandemic. Some of us are sending our kids to in-person school while biting our nails, some of us are facilitating virtual school while trying to work from home, some of us have transitioned to home school and are outside of every box we thought we knew. Some are even doing home school like normal, but can’t escape into a coffee shop or go on a Target run; or our business is struggling; or someone we love is sick; or we’re finally processing all the pain we haven’t let ourselves acknowledge, because we’re 40! We all have extra on our plates right now. So here is what I hope for each of us today: finding five minutes today to breathe deep; finding beauty in a falling leaf, a cloudy sky, or the voice of a friend; finding delight in something new; finding encouragement in the knowledge we are not alone.
(Pandemic Updates in Italics)
I read another one today, a mommy blogger who mixes all the perfect things together like fashion modeling and Jesus, telling all the leggin’s-clad, stained XL t-shirt-wearing, run down moms exactly how much we are all failing.
It totally worked.
Now I am going to LOVE every minute of motherhood.
Now, I am going to cook only homemade, organic, gluten-free food for my family.
Now I am going to finally BE that Proverbs 31 woman! (Let’s ignore for a moment that this woman never existed as a single entity, and that if she did she had domestic help.)
Reality–these posts tick me off.
Reality–I am blogging right now in my pajamas.
Reality–posts all about how women are doing it wrong when it comes to marriage, family, parenting, and all-things-domestic really only serve to grind women’s faces into the dirt while heaping more responsibility for unachievable perfection onto their already overwhelmed shoulders. (Check out the length of that sentence! I think a little of my personal feeling on this is coming through here.)
Can we bring it down a notch, please?
Modern life is hard. I realize that is such a #firstworldproblems kind of statement, but let’s examine the truth for a moment:
*300 years ago it was enough to keep your children alive and marry them off at 13 or send them to be an apprentice.
*150 years ago it was enough to make sure they finished the local school course which ended around 8th grade.
*50 years ago it was enough to see that your children were individual people (thanks Dr. Spock).
*Today, you have to know your child’s unique personality, temperament, love language, and fill-in-the-blank-with-whatever-is-trending [previously
spirit animal (this was appropriation and I repent) and patronus (this was my next choice, dang it J.K.!)]. You have to scrapbook/photo-blog every second of their life. You have to make sure they play a sport, play an instrument, and have sufficient playdates. You have to make sure they are challenged, but not too much; given grace, but still develop grit; have firm schedules and boundaries with enough flexibility to make their own decisions once they leave home–which may be never if the economy doesn’t rebound or if you chose the industrially farmed broccoli instead of organic, or this pandemic never ends and we end up in a dystopian novel nightmare.
What we all really need right now is another blog telling us how we are failing and ruining our children’s lives, not to mention tearing down our houses with our own hands like that foolish woman in Proverbs.
I want to say something to you, caregiver of small humans:
If you grew a human in your body, delivered them into the world, I recognize that you care about them. If you drove to the hospital or flew across the globe to pick them up and take them home, you want good things for them. If you wept and worried through fertility treatments, surrogacy, adoption, supported your partner as they grew a small human inside of them, I see that you would do anything to love them until you can’t breathe–they are so beautiful.
I also see the heaps of laundry, the piles of dishes, the disaster of a playroom, the incessant bickering, the insomnia, the teething, the talking back, the full-blown fits in the middle of Target (those were the days, am I right?). I see you tired and overwhelmed by all the demands. I see you struggling to realize that you shine at 6 month-old baby care, but suck at embracing the Kindergarten stage. We all have our sweet spots, maybe one of those super organized blogging mammas could make a spreadsheet and then I would raise your 2 year-old and you could have my 11 year-old until the next phase hits and we could all trade again.
Parenting is hard. We don’t need someone telling us all the ways we are falling short, we need cheerleaders for those beautiful moments where we do smile at our children and mean it when we say, “I love you, sweetie, have a good day!”
You may not know that I have my own checklist for parenting success. I blogged about it here, but I will condense it for you:
1. Don’t kill them.
2. Do your best–whatever your best looks like in this moment.
3. Love them.
4. Trust God–if you are going to be a parent, you need a higher power.
5. Everything else can be worked out in therapy.
So if you didn’t score a perfect 10 this morning, don’t beat yourself up. Grab a cup of coffee, fold 5 minutes worth of laundry, call a friend and invite them to put their kids on Zoom to distract your kids so you can have grown up conversation on the phone in the next room. Give yourself some grace, it’ll go a long way toward your ability to offer grace to your kids as well.
Anne of Green Gables once said, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” Here’s to a sea of tomorrows, and hope that we will take each one as it comes!
Grace for ourselves and others on this parenting journey.