The other day I was eating lunch with a couple of my new friends. Emphasis on NEW because when you hear what one of them said, you’ll understand that they haven’t been around me much yet. She, a bright, glowing, beautiful, competent young mother, looked at me, and said: You just seem like you have it all together.
And I had to laugh a little.
Because I was there earlier that morning when I found my toddler with lip gloss all over her face, in her hair, and on her clothes. I was there when I rolled out of bed exactly ten minutes before I needed to have my older kids up and dressed for school. I was there when I decided to shut the laundry room door instead of putting away the mounds of clean laundry. And also when I decided to ignore the piles of dirty laundry. I was there when I realized I had gone to pick up my kids without looking in the mirror, and, DANG IT, there was chocolate ice cream on my face. I mean, really. Even my five year old knows how to wipe his face. Most of the time.
And I knew that if I really wanted to put pen to paper I could come up with an unlimited list of ways that I do not have it all together.
I remember when I used to feel like other mothers had it all together. I would watch them and try to figure out how they managed to be so cool and calm and in control. I wondered how they managed to cook so much, clean so much, teach their kids so much, look like they had an unlimited clothing budget, have good hair and makeup, have hobbies, keep their husbands so happy, and do any number of other amazing things that I saw them doing.
And then one day I realized that none of us, no, not even the homeschooling blogger, has it all together. It doesn’t matter if you have one child or ten. Mothering is a tough business. And, if I ever show up somewhere looking well dressed and not like a child has wiped her nose on my shirt, it’s only because fourteen other things that I “should” be doing have fallen by the wayside. No one has it all together.
And on days when my child has had a truly enriching experience, where I sat with him and read ten books and discussed world events and baked cookies, it’s only because twenty other things I “needed” to do didn’t get done. On these days I won’t have good hair or all the socks neatly matched up in everyone’s drawer. Because no one has it ALL together.
Mothers, we have some of it together all the time. And that’s all we can ask of ourselves. So, if today is your friend’s good hair and makeup day and today is your good laundry day and today is your cousin’s good worksheets with preschoolers day, we should try not to compare. Because your friend’s laundry is probably piled up behind a closed door. And your cousin’s hair may look a little disheveled. And your preschooler may have watched a little bit too much TV. But, you all got some of your things accomplished, and you can all be happy with your little slice of having something together.
And, on days when your baby eats Doritos all afternoon and you lie on the couch and watch old reruns of Dawson’s Creek and the laundry doesn’t get done and the house needs a good cleaning and you keep thinking you probably ought to put on a bra, that’s ok, too. Even good mothers have a few days when the only thing that we have “together” is our conscious state. And some days that’s all anyone can ask.
So, remember this, sweet young mothers. No one has it all together. But, we all have some things together. And we’re all in this together. No comparing. No judging. No fretting. Just mothering, loving our children in the ways they need love.
And sometimes we even show up without ice cream on our face.