To think that I’ve muttered those words about a million times almost breaks my heart.
The most recent instance of which was this past Sunday as we were headed to church. It was your typical Sunday morning, the boys woke up at 5:30 *because they hate sleep apparently* and we were getting ready to head out for a breakfast – the kind of which we have said dozens of times we should stop doing because it is not THE most wise use of our money … nevertheless, we were preparing to load the van and head out the door for 7 am and a quick stop at the local diner before church.
You know the scene … four boys under five scrambling to grab their boots while mom shouts for them to put some pants on, don’t forget socks, did you change your underwear … for heaven’s sake, why are there no coats.
Chaos, organized chaos is what it is.
But, like we always do, we made it out the door *15 minutes late* and were on our way. It wasn’t until we hit the highway that I remembered that today was the day that the boys would be on stage singing with the rest of the littles at our church.
I looked at the time, we would be hard pressed to eat breakfast and make it to church early for drop off and “rehearsal”. We could still do it but ONLY if there was no line-up and the boys didn’t make a scene.
And then I looked at my boys, the rag-tag team of misfits who dressed themselves, were wearing rain boots without socks, some who still had their nighttime underwear on *despite* my reminders to get those changed, and none who had brushed hair or had even a colour on that was remotely festive.
I sank into the seat and sighed, “I suck at this mom thing.”
Here I was, looking toward the back of the van at the rough edges of mothering four small boys while simultaneously 57 months pregnant with what I can only assume will be a baby the size of a young child, picturing how obvious my failures would be as my mismatched and thrift-store-special boys stood at the front of the congregation singing and dancing to a song I had no prior knowledge of.
I was failing.
Surely every other mother had prepared the night before, their children all bathed, put to bed early as to avoid any crazy tantrums in the morning << these mom’s who’s children sleep to a regular time of like 7 am as opposed to the butt crack of stupid like my boys. The moms who lay out the matching Christmas outfits they ordered off Etsy because they wanted something unique and specular to celebrate another amazing year.
All this expectation butted up against the kids who look like they crawled out of the 90s, with a shaved head and rough ringlets that no amount of conditioners could tame.
I sunk lower into my own pity party, I begged my husband to let us go to second service so that I could run to the store and pick up something that would make it look like I had remembered, that I had it together << even if just a little bit. I urged him to consider dropping me at Wall-Mart while he fed the boys so that I could mask my failures and forgetfulness with something more polished and worthy of a Christmas song at the front of the congregation.
I was wallowing and dreading the embarrassment of putting my children front and centre looking the shambles they did, knowing it reflected on me as a mother.
Regardless of my pleas, and because he has better sense than myself in moments like this, Cody brought us to the diner for breakfast and assured me that it would be ok. No one would notice what they were wearing, the boys were proud of their attire and accomplishments in getting ready by them selves, and it was only clothes.
So, we ate, I stressed, we finished with just enough time to toss the boys in their class before seconds before they were to head out on stage, and I slinked to the front … to our seats.
With each passing song our congregation sang I could feel the pressure mounting, my boys would soon be centre stage, rain boots, blankets, cows licks and missing teeth it all their boyhood glory. I hoped they would be tucked behind some adorable children so no one would see the Linus and Pig Pen look alike boys tromp out.
If you haven’t guessed or don’t know the irony that plagues the life of a mom caught in comparisons and self judgement, my boys *of course* were right up at the front, ready and beaming with excitement. Blankets, sweaters, rain boots and charisma abounding … well two of three were thrilled, man cub 3 was … well, he bawled into his blanket for the duration of the 5 minute sing along.
You know what I realized, as my oldest watched his father and sang the way only he can, as man cub 2 took in the scene of people watching and smiling and as my tiniest “singer” was cradled by one of the most loving and honestly God honouring preschool volunteer I think I have ever known, what they wore had no impact on the love they have for Christ and for one another. I watched as my oldest attempted to comfort his younger brother, oblivious of the crowd watching … even if it ended with him dropping his brother off the platform, I watched them encourage one another in singing and performing, and I smiled – ear to ear, despite the tears of our third because none of my stress and doubt mattered.
No one commented on their appearance, other children were dressed as rag-a-muffins and the only thing of significance that day was the way these little people worshiped and celebrated our amazing God.
Without hesitation or insecurities, without the preconceived notion that being festively attired was more appropriate than wearing whatever made you feel comfortable, and with all the joy and passion only felt by the tender heart of a toddler … or little person.
And so, I want to remind you dear friend, and myself, that just because your kids aren’t the talk of the town because of their adorable outfits, perfectly coiffed hair or their ability to sing in three part harmony … non of that matters, no one is judging that. What matters is the joy in their hearts, the confidence in their praise and the way they simply and perfectly honour our Lord and Saviour from a place of unbridled peace.
Let go of the judgement and the feeling of being “less than”, stop comparing yourself to women who may be gifted in the art of “having it all together” and learn to live in the chaos, to find the joy in the everyday and to own your unique style of motherhood. Even if it is a mixture of complex kids meets country bumpkins.
The lived in home is about more than pinperfection. It’s about more than the magazine spread and the coordinated cushions. The lived in home is disappearing.
If I told you that people used to enjoy living in their homes, decorating their homes and just appreciating the simple fact that they HAD a home. That people didn’t agonize over whether their home looked like it was ready for it’s IG photo shoot, never worried if there was enough light or colour to warrant a possible viral post.
There was a time when women were blissfully unaware that they were not meeting the Joanne Gains standard of housekeeping that every other mother seemed to be mastering.
Home was truly where the heart was, not where the idols and keeping up with the Jones’ went on.
What happened to the lived in home?