I was running late taking my daughter to preschool today. This past Daylight Savings Time has really thrown us for a loop and everyone just wants to keep sleeping in the morning. I actually had to wake my son up to take him, which has absolutely never happened before. At our little rural preschool, you know you’re late if you hear the church bells chiming in the steeple. Ideally, if you time it correctly, those church bells chime right as you’re pulling out the parking lot as if to celebrate the fact that you have roughly three hours to do your grocery shopping, errand running and bank depositing before you need to get back. However, this morning, the bells were chiming as we scurried up the front steps. I’ve started letting my son walk in with us rather than pushing him in his stroller. He’ll be attending a few days a week next year and I want him to get used to the whole process.
Today, he was dragging his little, tiny feet and my oldest was too. I was frantically trying to smooth down her cowlick, put a barrette in her bangs and wipe cereal crumbs off her as we ran into the school. Then, I got behind a woman who I know only from a distance. I overheard her tell another mom, “My hair is wet and I’m wearing my pajamas. Don’t judge me!” The woman replied, “Honey, we’re all just making it work, aren’t we?”
Like a balm to my soul, that phrase was exactly what I needed to hear in the moment. I was still in my lounge clothes myself and I’m pretty sure my hair was in the bun I slept in and we were all just trying to rush out the door to make it there on time. We were a disheveled mess by anyone’s account but the more I looked around, everyone else there had a little something messed up as well. The truth is, there’s no perfect mom just like there’s no perfect person and embracing that truth can make even the most stressful morning (or entire day) more manageable.
Underneath it all, we’re really just trying to make this whole parenting thing work. I have one friend who works in a full-time office job and texts me cry face emojis every Sunday, lamenting that she has to go to work in the morning and leave her babies with her in-laws. Another friend adores her job and looks forward to that “me” time that it affords her away from her children. Some of my friends are stay-at-home moms and others (like me) work from home when we get a spare minute. I get daily requests to join a party or take a look at a catalogue from my group of friends who are involved in affiliate or direct marketing programs. Underneath it all, no matter how we’re seeking financial, emotional and relational balance, if it works, we’re clinging tightly to it. If it doesn’t, we’re trying desperately to find or try something new that does.
Even my own mother, whom I revere more than any woman in the entire world and who raised me with grit, glory and grace isn’t perfect and honestly, if anyone were going to be, it would be her. How comforting it is then, that I don’t have to live up to an otherworldly ideal? How absolutely freeing that all I’m required to do is just love on my babies and raise them the best I know how. As parents, if we’re running ourselves ragged and we feel like we’re spinning in circles, it’s probably because we’re trying so hard to make it work. We’re giving up our time, our days, our energy and our youth to make sure these tiny people are fed, entertained, stimulated and happy. No wonder that we end the day crashing into bed way earlier (or maybe even later) than we used to in our college days.
So, here’s to all the mamas out there just making it work. Here’s to the early risers who have a full face of makeup on and all the bookbags packed before dawn. Here’s to the late night putterers, who do their best thinking, laundry cleaning and lunchbox prepping around midnight. And here’s to everyone in between, trying to find that sweet spot in the pendulum of life where it feels both comfortable and challenging at the same time. If your hair is wet at preschool pickup, if you forget show-and-tell, if your school lunches aren’t exactly foie gras, and if your kid is wearing the same pair of leggings she wore all weekend, you’re not hurting anything. In fact, you’re probably doing more right than you know.