It was supposed to be the perfect Father’s Day gift. Video clips of our precious kiddos put together with others to make a Father’s Day video for church. I was so excited. I carefully picked out the clothes, fixed the hair, chose the shoes. The kids were excited and I had grand visions of perfection dancing around in my head.
Then we arrived.
And folks, we melted down.
One wouldn’t stop screaming. One who is normally calm and nonchalant decided that would be a good time to test out his new “I’m completely crazy and hilarious” personality. Two were completely distracted by the other two I’ve mentioned. One was completely exasperated by the actions of the previous four. And the last behaved with princess-like, “I’m above this,” perfection.
My visions were dashed. Dying slow and painful deaths as my fantasy world collided with real life.
Guess what? My husband was so blessed. He watched the screaming and chaotic “we love you, Daddy!!!” clip like 50 times.
I’m letting go. Letting go of picture perfect pristine children. Letting go of orderly and spotless public appearances. Letting go of perfect smiles and neat hairstyles.
And I’m embracing my children. All of them. The grumpy, the crazy, the distracted, the exasperated, and the pharisaical. My children are not perfect. They are children. I love them.
It was one of those shopping trips. It hadn’t been horrible, but it hadn’t been great. I was standing in the check-out line with a cart full to the brim of children, groceries, and single shoes. I was sweaty. (Sweatiness is a glorious side-effect of mothering I hadn’t anticipated. Layers. Always wear layers. Anyways.) I was answering question after question. I was reminding children where they should and shouldn’t be. What they should and shouldn’t touch. (Let’s be honest here. There’s really nothing that SHOULD be touched in the check-out lane!) They were doing quite well. We were gonna make it out just fine.
I heard my name. Turned and saw a precious older lady from church. We chatted and enjoyed the children’s cuteness. (They are cute!)
Then my oldest daughter noticed her cart.
“Mommy, look at her flowers! They are so pretty!”
“Yes, sweetheart, they are beautiful!”
She explained the after-season sale. The plans for updating her front porch. The joy in beautiful curb appeal.
My heart flinched. I love beautiful curb appeal. So far we have managed to take out the ugly we moved in with, but haven’t yet replaced it with beautiful. Another thing I was failing at.
She touched my arm. She must’ve known my thoughts.
“Someday. Someday you will grow beautiful flowers. Today you are growing all these beautiful children.”
I’m letting go. Letting go of the list of things I’ve convinced myself are important. Letting go of perfect curb appeal and Pinterest-worthy projects. Letting go of perceived priorities and people-pleasing anxiety.
And I’m embracing my life stage. My mission field. My passion. My top priority. My priceless gift.
I must’ve spent an hour scrolling through her Instagram page. I was following trails of “likes” and “mutual followers” and ended up in what appeared to be the perfect mother’s paradise. Every picture depicted some sort of motherhood perfection.
Children dressed in super trendy neutrals. The perfect mix of funky pattern mixing and classic style. Every day it seemed.
Home decorated in the perfect simple, rustic beauty. Down to fur throw rugs and coordinating micro-fleece throws.
Homeschooling portrayed in beautiful, tranquil, ultra-creative glory. Shots of children peacefully drawing or quietly enjoying Math lesson.
Homemade meals that could’ve graced the cover of any modern chef magazine. A stunning and beautiful variety of healthy foods.
Siblings with perfect haircuts playing together in beautiful harmony. Laughing, dancing, sharing
What started as me enjoying the simple beauty and learning from her creativity turned quietly into hints of jealousy which then became a raging beast of comparison and a heart screaming out in guilty failure.
I started looking at my home, my children, our lifestyle with different eyes. It was not a pretty sight to my idolatrous heart.
Walls full of artwork (not mine…done in various colors of crayon and ranging in skill level).
Children dressed in their own rendition of “matching” and favorite clothing.
Half-finished organizational projects and boxes still lining the hallway from hurriedly moving another child into our home.
Schooling that is a crazy mix of homeschool, public, special education, and private. No beautiful “free creative time” projects here!
The desperation and feelings of despair continued to grow and so I attempted to show my husband some of what I was feeling by comparing her pictures with our life.
“It looks to me like you are forgetting our blessings.”
I’m letting go. Letting go of another mother’s God-given journey. Letting go of another mother’s passions and adventures. Letting go of what God has gifted to another.
And I’m embracing my journey. My God-given gifts and talents. My amazing adventure. My houseful of treasures.
It was a Monday morning. I woke up early with a list of things to do for the day. For the week. I finished my cup of coffee after my devotions and finished pouring over the tasks and lists I had created. Determined that this week would not finish like the last – with projects and tasks left half-finished and undone.
Dear husband woke up and wandered downstairs. His pants needed ironed. And while I ironed we talked. We stopped to go through the schedule for the day. Lots of extra hugs and kisses this morning. Time was slowing. Tasks were being postponed. These moments were more important.
A second cup of coffee as children began to wander down the stairs. Extra tears. Extra hugs. Extra cuddle time. Extra sin. More grace-filled discipline and training. More cartoons. More “Mommy will you please sit with me.”
When chore time finally arrives it is filled with “help” and “please teach me.” With some squabbles and tired tears. Re-teaching and gently training. Walking alongside a child struggling through a rough day.
Naptime arrives and there is no quick release from mothering duties. Snuggles requested. Extra stories. Another song. Waking up from nightmares. An accident resulting in sheets changed and reassuring time spent.
Dishes still towering in the sink. Laundry spilling over the baskets. Toys and books littering every bit of floor space. Trash overflowing. Hair unfixed. Yoga pants. More coffee.
I’m letting go. Letting go of projects, tasks, and to-do lists. Letting go of “expedient,” “efficient,” and “achieved.” Letting go of my version of urgent and necessary.
And I’m embracing the other facets of my role. The nurturer, companion, teacher, and grace-giver. Learning to rest and accomplish through relationships. Savor the moments. Remember that there is a time for everything. Recognize the needs of today.