Today I am going to talk about something that plagues many (if not all) mothers at some point in their path of parenthood. Dads too, if any happen to be reading. Being all things to all people. Perfectionism. Needing to do everything perfectly, every time we do it.
Let’s start with a personal anecdote to introduce the topic, shall we? This past week, I pulled out all the stops at the house. I swept. I kept the kitchen in decent shape. I did the laundry. I cooked my own breakfast every morning (those of you who see me regularly know that this is a BIG DEAL). I continued jogging. I even showered regularly, and put on make up. Throughout all of that, I continued to successfully mommy (yes, I use that word as a verb. Deal with it). Eli was as happy as he could be, relatively hygienically sound, and eating like a champ.
This weekend there was also a big Texas wine festival in the downtown district that my little family calls home. My sister was coming to town with her husband to partake in the food, drink, and music of it all. The evening of the first day of the festival, I was WORN OUT. My parents took Eli home with them halfway through the day (the hippie was working, as wine festivals tend to have people who REALLY need foodstuffs), and I got to walk around little in the name of trying to cover the festival for a little side project of mine (art979.com. Check it out!). I wasn’t able to get what I wanted, but I DID get to play with my sister a little bit, and that was something I desperately needed. But, I was still pooped, and hadn’t seen my baby boy in several hours, so instead of covering the concert I was really looking forward to, I hiked back to my car and drove as quickly as I could to go pick up my baby. My dad and step-mom had loved on my sweet kiddo all afternoon, and had grand plans to make sure that we had dinner before going home to a house with clean floors, clothes, and a fridge stocked with food (remember that part where I did ALL THE THINGS this week?).
Aside from my exhaustion, I felt awesome. I had a clean house. I had made tracks on getting my job done. I managed to be social, and look nice. My child hadn’t caught on fire. Then my dad helped me carry my kiddo to the car so we could go home.
There it was. All the mess that was left in my life was hiding in my car. At least a dozen empty coffee cups, fast food bags (foodie shame…), spare shirts, old mail, you name it, and it was in my car. Evidence that I was not the flawless Wonder Woman wannabe that I was trying to be. “Honey, it looks like a homeless person lives in your car” is how my loving father put it. I was humiliated. Didn’t he know that my house was gorgeous? That I put on a bra, and PANTS every day this week? That I managed to successfully adult all week without having a single nervous breakdown?
I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t handle this with the kind of grace that I like to tell myself is instinctual for me. I snapped something about not having time, and then got in my car, and drove home without hugging my daddy goodbye for the night.
Sidenote: don’t worry, I apologized, and we have hugged many times since. But why was I so upset over having my car mess pointed out?
Because I missed something. I had tried so hard to be perfect all week, and had done pretty well (for me). And here was glaring proof of my failure. Of my missing something. Of not being able to sufficiently do all the things. Of not being the flawless creature that I tell myself I am capable of being.
Ok, dear readers. I’m going to go ahead and say it, and we can all just know it together. You aren’t perfect. You can’t do everything. And that’s ok. Those messes? Let ’em rest. You’ll get to them eventually (or, at least you’ll tell yourself that). But really? They’re just a sign that there is so much more in this life than having a clean house (or car). Who cares if someone notices that you missed a spot? In all honestly, that person probably needed the reminder that it’s ok that they haven’t had their oil changed in almost a year. Well, maybe not ok, because everyone needs transportation that isn’t about to die on them. BUT ok that it’s their turn to be the friend who needs it to be their turn to be an accepted mess.
Right now, it’s my turn. I’m a new(ish) mom. I am an actor. I have a couple of part time jobs. And I am passionately in love with my partner. Things are gonna slip. There are going to be weeks when the dishes don’t get done every night. When there is a coffee cup graveyard in the car. When something mysterious starts growing in that one tupperware dish in the back of the fridge. And that gets to be ok right now.
A “Y’all. Eli is STANDING.” me