I graduated college in 2004 with a 3.9 in my major which was Elementary Education and Special Education. I was an amazing student, and took pride in the fact that I worked so hard. My assignments were kept by professors for future examples, my notes were color-coordinated, and my binders skillfully organized. I was the outgoing, head-of-the-class, unblemished and accomplished student. I had all the confidence in the world.
When I worked, I worked hard. I was employee of the month at Outback, pre-school teacher of the year, and could take a boring Sunday shift at a local casino and have it rivaling Friday nights within a month. If there was a contest to sell the most margaritas, I won it. I could bond with children deemed a hindrance in the classroom. I could do anything, and I had all the confidence in the world.
This morning I realized that when I traded in textbooks and paychecks for sippy cups and diapers, I lost some of that confidence. There are days when motherhood leaves me pleading for clarity, mainly because I have to trust myself to know what is right for my two girls. There are no textbooks, color-coordinated notes, or organized binders. There is no contest or employee of the month. No, the stakes are much higher than that. I am responsible for two little souls; a much grander task than every one of my previous accomplishments combined. Why the lack of confidence? Why now?
The answer is simple. I compare myself to other mothers and we all know comparison is the theif of joy.
I watched a mother picking her child up from daycare the other day in a new Mercedes SUV. At four in the afternoon, she looked so put together in her Ann Taylor dress and thorough display of beauty. For a moment, I felt inadequate, lacking; like I was not enough. I was still in my gym clothes, hair in pony-tail, devoid of make-up, fingers crossed I would get a shower before Ray got home. (I didn’t in case you are wondering.)
When we got home, instead of sulking, I stepped over the pile of laundry and we colored. Marker escaped from the paper, and covered the kitchen table. We ate chocolate way too close to dinnertime, and when we built a fort with the couch cushions. I found two old pacifiers, three crayons, and $1.81 in change. When Ray got home, we watched the girls play dress up, and I stared on in awe at the little beauties who make our lives complete. I was not lacking in any way. Presley helped Carsyn put on a dress and crown, and my heart melted. I was wiped out from the day so we decided to go out for dinner. Presley wore her princess dress. We couldn’t get Carsyn to stay seated in her seat, and more food ended up on the floor than in her mouth. I still hadn’t showered. It was fabulous. Every second of it.
As I take a step back and look at my two girls, I realize I will never get a 4.0 in motherhood, but then again, nobody does. Motherhood is not about perfection, or always being put together, it’s about love, pure and simple. If you love your child, and whole-heartedly believe you are doing your best, you cannot fail. You see, all too often I have measured my success and abilities as a mother by the limited glimpses I get into other mothers’ worlds; irrationally picturing perfectly cleaned houses, routinely well-mannered children, and dinnertimes promptly at six. I know better, and after yesterday, I’ve realized embracing imperfection is one of the keys to being a mother, because hopefully it will teach my children that , “Hey, if it's okay for Mom to be imperfect maybe its okay for me too."