Yesterday as I told my mom, “Happy Mother’s Day,” she said, “You’re the one in the trenches of motherhood right now!” And you know what? I am. I am deep in the trenches of motherhood. I have a two-year-old daughter and I’m 33 1/2 weeks pregnant. Temper tantrums and meltdowns? I deal with those. Scraped knees and bumped heads? Check. Third trimester insomnia and exhaustion? Yep. Heartburn and an achy back? You bet. And while this may not be the easiest stage of motherhood, it is so blessed. Sloppy kisses and spontaneous hugs? I get those. Giggles and little girl squeals? Constantly. Baby kicks and nudges? Happening right now.
What do I, from my post deep in the trenches of motherhood, need to hear to be encouraged this Mother’s Day? I’ll tell you what I don’t need to hear. I don’t need to hear a to-do-list in the form of a sermon based on the Proverbs 31 woman. I don’t need to hear about perfect mothers who never make mistakes. I don’t need to hear about those saintly women who never lose their cool. I definitely don’t need to hear about moms who have it all together all the time. I don’t need to hear perfect. I need to hear real.
So many times we moms hide the mess, sweep it under the rug, and present a “perfect” face to the world. Social media seems to exaggerate this — I mean, who instagrams their sink full of dirty dishes? Or their filthy toddlers wearing mismatched clothes? Who tweets about their parenting failures? Or posts a Facebook status about their fight with their husband? We try to present our “perfect” families to the world, but all the while feel guilty that our real life doesn’t match the perfection our friends are presenting. Comparing our behind-the-scenes, un-aired footage with others’ highlight reels leaves us feeling inadequate and guilty.
So here is my confession this Mother’s Day: I don’t have it all together. Not in the least. My sink is almost always full of dirty dishes. I never catch up on laundry. (Sometimes I even forget a load of clothes in the washing machine only to find it wet and smelly a few days later.) I definitely don’t mop my floors often enough, and I only dust before my weekly piano lessons so my students’ parents don’t judge me. My bed doesn’t get made up every day, and my sheets don’t get changed every week. The inside of my car is filled with discarded toys, empty cups, and lots of crumbs. I sometimes find smelly milk cups under the couch or in the toy box. I occasionally let Piper eat popcorn for breakfast. She doesn’t eat many vegetables, but she gets a popsicle almost every day. If she’s not cooperating when we’re out shopping, I bribe her with a sucker. Sometimes I overreact to something she does and make her cry. I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing when I discipline my child. In our battle of wills, she often wins. I don’t bathe her every single day. She gets away with more than I should probably let her. I allow my two-year-old to watch TV (maybe more than I should.) I haven’t made sensory bins or busy bags for her to play with, and I don’t plan to. Her baby book is still unfinished, and I never did get around to mailing out her birth announcements. Instead of boutique and handmade outfits, I dress my daughter in clearance rack and consignment sale clothes. I love to cook, but I’m lazy and don’t put much effort into it. I get excited for summer so that JD can grill and I don’t have to cook as often. I cook with real butter and sugar, and don’t care about the calories. I don’t buy organic apples. I eat dessert at least once a day (often twice). I don’t enjoy exercising, so I don’t do it often enough. I feed my unborn child sugar, french fries, and the occasional caffeinated drink. There are unfinished sewing and craft projects in almost every room of my house. My closets and bathroom cabinets are a mess. Most days (at least lately), I take a nap during Piper’s nap time instead of getting my house work done. I spend too much time on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, where I see the “perfect” lives others are presenting to the world and start to feel guilty about the mess I live in.
Whew. How’s that for real? And trust me, I could go on for days.
But despite my mess, my failures, and my short-comings, I know I’m still a good mom. I always have time to cuddle. I stop what I’m doing to read a book or play a game with Piper. She is happy, healthy, and well-adjusted. My husband and I have a great relationship and enjoy spending time together. Somehow we’ll manage to add a newborn to the mess and chaos in a few short weeks, and we’ll make it. It won’t be perfect, but it will be blessed. Because it’s here in the middle of dirty dishes, temper tantrums, and morning sickness that God speaks to me. He teaches me about his patient love and forgiveness as I patiently clean up yet another spilled drink. I learn to rely on His strength when I’m exhausted and at the end of my rope. I realize the depth of the grace He has shown me as I try to show grace to my toddler. Motherhood is sanctifying me, and while I’m far from perfect, God is molding me to be more like Him little by little and day by day.
This Mother’s Day, let’s stop pretending to have it all together and admit that motherhood here in the trenches is hard and messy. Instead of seeking encouragement in Hallmark cards and empty platitudes, let’s find encouragement in the real-life messes and successes around us. It sure is freeing to admit that I’m not perfect and don’t have it all together, and I don’t have to pretend to be something I’m not. Won’t you join me in celebrating the real and shunning the “perfect” this Mother’s Day?