Practically Imperfect in Every Way

Before I had kids, I had a pretty good vision of what motherhood would be like.  I would have a strict schedule – and stick to it.  We would never watch TV.  We would never eat fast food.  My house would be tidy and organized at all times – unlike some moms that I knew.  We would listen to classical music in the mornings and spend our time on educational projects.  

 

And then I had my first kid.  And my second.  And my third.  Turns out, this whole “motherhood” gig is a bit harder than it looks.  Turns out, I’m not Mary freaking Poppins.   And it’s time to admit it.

 

I was hugely inspired by a recent article, written by a fellow mom, about how much we all lie on Facebook (and other social media). You can read it here: http://www.kveller.com/blog/parenting/we-need-to-quit-telling-lies-on-facebook/

  Okay, maybe “lie” is too harsh.  Let’s just say that we tend to give our friends and family the highlight reel of how perfect and wonderful our lives are, while carefully omitting the ugly truths. 

 

Well, today I think that it’s time to celebrate those ugly truths.  Because that’s what’s real.  That’s what’s honest about our lives. That’s what we can share with our fellow moms and not make them feel like shit because they’re not up at 5am making homemade organic bread before serving their perfectly groomed children a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs (gathered from their own hens, of course) and pancakes made into adorable little faces.

 

I don’t know about ya’ll, but today I overslept and my kids had cold cereal.  

 

Well, one kid did.  The middle had to make it to speech by 7:30, which means she didn’t even have time to eat.  Which means that we stopped at Chik Fil A in between speech and preschool and ate in the car.  And for once, I’m going to be okay with that.  And I’m going to be okay with admitting it. 

 

I want for my girls to grow up knowing that IT’S OKAY to be a screw up.  It’s okay to fail.  It’s okay to try and not succeed.  IT IS OKAY TO BE IMPERFECT.   

 

So, let’s start telling each other truth.  Let’s start celebrating the dirty, frustrating, exhausting moments of motherhood instead of sweeping them under the rug.  Let’s start supporting each other, instead of trying to outdo each other.  Because no matter if you’re a stay at home parent, working parent, single parent, grandparent – this is WORK.  This is HARD.   And maybe if we would all just admit that, we could start going a little easier on ourselves – and each other.   

 

If we did that, maybe I wouldn’t feel like such a giant screw up on mornings like today, when I went to Lowe’s in an oversized sweatshirt and no bra.  Oh, and I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet, either (you’re welcome, Lowe’s employees!).  And my youngest accompanied me in her pj’s, cleverly disguised (or so I thought) by her winter boots and coat).   Maybe it wouldn’t bother me that instead of cleaning my ridiculously messy kitchen or doing educational crafts, we’re chilling on the couch catching up on the latest “My Little Pony”.     Maybe I wouldn’t be so embarrassed if a friend were to stop by and see my laundry room looking like this:

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And my kitchen table looking this :

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And my kid looking like this:

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And me looking like this:

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So here’s to telling the REAL story of motherhood. The wonderful, messy,  crazy-hard-but-worth-it life that we have chosen for ourselves.

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Colorado or Bust! Day 1

Colorado or Bust!  Loading up the ‘ol Family Truckster to drive 16 hours there, 16 hours back, for a grand total of 32 hours in the car with three small children.  Will we survive?

 

COLORADO OR BUST: DAY 1

We woke up bright and early Saturday morning to start our trip out west in search of higher altitudes and cooler temperatures.   Goal for the day?  Make it to Amarillo, a mere ten hours away.

Ten hours.

In the car.

With three kids.

Oy vey.

Still, we were optimistic.  I had spent weeks preparing “busy bags” for the girls.  I’d trolled Pinterest with pernicious passion searching for the right combination of activities guaranteed to buy us thirty-two hours of peaceful driving.  I’d even bought them “surprises” to open once we were on the road (I call them surprises, but we all know that they were bribes for good behavior).  I loaded our DVD case chock-full of animated delights, and packed a large reusable grocery bag to the brim with snacks.  We were prepared for every eventuality.

Well, almost.

I wasn’t really prepared for how quickly the girls would buzz through each activity….and how quickly they would toss said activity to the floor of the car once they were finished with it.   Or that A would throw EVERYTHING that I handed her, be it books, toys, or food.   And that she would refuse to nap in the car. And that the only DVD she had the slightest interest in watching was “Backyardigans”, resulting in us watching the same four episodes for ten hours straight (I should mention that she also liked “Maisy”,  but after thirty minutes of listening to random trumpeting from Charlie, the special needs alligator, we had to turn it off).

Oh, and the poop.  In retrospect, we really weren’t as prepared for the amount of poo-splosions that occurred as we should have been.   I mean, I expected a few from A, if not quite the volume that actually occurred.  And believe me, there was volume.  Then we hit the long stretch of road between Childress, TX and Amarillo.

Middle of Nowhereville

Also known as No-Toilet Land.

My poor, sweet oldest.  The combination of travel and juice boxes did not set well with her tummy, and she had to go.  Like, RIGHT NOW.  We sped down the highway  as fast as we could, but there was literally nothing.  She held it as long as she could.  Then, about five minutes from Amarillo, it happened.

Poo-Splosion.

She was horrified.  This child has been potty trained since she was two, and has had maybe two accidents in her entire life.  We pulled to the side of the road to get her cleaned up, only to realize that the side of the road was covered in stickers.   We kept L in the car, balancing on discarded coloring books and squashed granola bars, and used a pair of fingernail clippers to cut her underwear off.  It’s really amazing the many ways that one can use fingernail clippers, don’t you think?   After a box full of wipes and some stories of how everybody poops in their pants, we finally got her clean and the poo-splosion panties contained in a trash bag.  I got to spend the next twenty minutes dislodging stickers from my flip-flop clad feet.

Nine and a half hours after we pulled out of our driveway, we pulled into the parking lot for the Big Texan.   I had never heard of this restaurant until my dad mentioned it to me, but apparently it’s kind of a big deal.  It’s been on Man vs. Food  and Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.  They’re best known for their 72 oz steak, nicknamed “The Texas King.”  If you finish the entire steak along with a salad, shrimp cocktail, baked potato, and a roll, you get your meal for free.  It’s very reminiscent of “The Great Outdoors”, when John Candy eats “the ol’ 96’er”.   Around  50,000 people have made the attempt, and only 8,000 have ever finished.  We watched three, ahem, large gentlemen take on the challenge while we were there, but even they couldn’t do it.

Finishing that steak is now on my Bucket List.

The restaurant is hilarious, full of stuffed animal heads (including a huge bear) and boardwalk-type games.  We had to play Zoltar, even if the girls didn’t get the “Big” reference.    The wait staff is dressed like old ranch hands, and they look completely miserable about it.   There’s a huge cow out front for photo ops, along with a larger-than-life neon cowboy to beckon Route 66 travelers.

The Big Texan

The food  itself was surprisingly good!  We’ve learned from experience that most touristy attractions have blah food, so we were pleasantly surprised at how good this was.   We had steak (of course) that was cooked perfectly, a baked potato with some sort of butter/sour cream/chive combination that was to die for, and salads with homemade ranch.  L had steak, because she is Queen Carnivore in our house, and even the kids’ steak was a really nice cut.  C and A split some chicken tenders, which looked, you know, chickeny.  We had chocolate chip cookies for dessert that were cuh-razy rich and topped with whipped cream.  And the best part? All of the kids’ meals come with a free cowboy hat.  And it was a really cute straw one, not a crappy plastic one.  Big Texan, I give you two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Oh, and  did I mention the rainbow?  When we started out that morning,  we passed a beautiful DOUBLE RAINBOW !  I don’t think that I’ve ever actually seen a double rainbow.  I felt like God was smiling on our trip….and laughing a little, too, because He knew what we had in store for us.

Double Rainbow!

And that, my friends, was Day 1.  Stay tuned for Day 2, where we encounter New Mexican rest stops, a Poo-Splosion Snack Time, and finally, FINALLY…COLORADO!

Learning to Let Go

I’m a little bit of a perfectionist.  I’m very much your typical Type A, OCD, slightly (okay, highly) neurotic person.  I’ve always assumed that this was an unchangeable quality of my personality, and that these qualities, while often exasperating, were somewhat endearing.  And while my psychosis has proved to be amusing, even to me, I’ve recently noticed an alarming trend:

I’m no longer the only perfectionist in my house.

My middle child has thankfully inherited her dad’s laid back, go-with-the-flow, relaxed and groovy mindset.  My oldest, however, is a carbon copy of yours truly.  She frets, she over-analyzes, she assumes the worst case scenario in every situation.  She demands absolute perfection in her herself, and insists on being in control of as much of her world as is humanly possible.

In short, she’s me.  And I hate it.

Being wound up and neurotic is funny when it’s George Costanza on “Seinfeld”, but it’s not as funny when it’s your life.  I hate to see my baby go through the mental acrobatics that I put myself through on a daily basis.  I hate to see her beat herself up over the least little mistake, and live in a constant state of worry.  I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, much less my own child.  But what can I do?  Is this behavior just a part of her nature, or is this something that she’s learned from watching me?

In case it’s the latter, I’ve decided that I’m going to start making some changes around here.  Normally “making changes” in our house means setting up a new organization system or restructuring my cleaning schedule (because, yes, there is a schedule.  It’s written down and everything).  I’m going to start letting things go.  Instead of insisting that the kids pick up their toys as they go along, I’m going to let them make a holy mess and deal with clean up at the end of the day.  Instead of fretting over dirty dishes in the sink, I’m going to let them be until after dinner.  Instead of working myself into a tizzy each time something in the house is out-of-place, I’m going to let it be until the end of the day.  I want to stop wasting time that could be better spent playing with my girls, getting outside, doing projects, making memories.   I’m going to be more forgiving of myself and others.  I’m going to relax, even if I have to schedule time to do it, even if I have to force it upon myself.

And maybe, by allowing more slack into my own life, my daughter will be able to allow some into her own.  Maybe I can break the cycle before it breaks her.

So now I am going to walk past the pile of blocks in the living room, the train track set up in the hall, the lunch dishes in the sink, and the pile of laundry that needs to be folded, and I am going to play with my kids.

 

What do ya’ll think? Any tips to help me learn to let go?