I am writing this in my hallway at the top of the stairs because my two little boys won’t stay in their room and go to bed unless I sit up here at the doorway and utter words like go to bed and stay in bed now – I mean it and no more water and you will lose media time if you get out of your bed again until they both decide to give in, slip under their covers and go to sleep.
That’s the truth.
I’ve tried charts. Bedtime routines. Stickers. Time outs. All of it. And I’ve resorted to working at the top of the stairs for an hour each night and muttering those phrases. I’ve actually gotten quite used to emailing, tweeting, facebooking, and writing with my back against the door to my room and my eyes constantly looking in their room to see if they’re asleep.
(they’re not right now… in case you were wondering.)
Listen, my life isn’t all together. I’ve got my share, well more than my share, of ups and downs, fails and do-overs, highs and lows, and sitting at the top of the stair moments because I can’t seem to think of something better to do.
I make boxed macaroni and cheese for lunch with the little powdered cheese.
We don’t eat organic apples unless they are on sale.
I buy my kids fruit roll ups.
Sometimes my kids play too much media.
I skip words, okay paragraphs, in long books at bedtime.
I don’t fold all the little boys clothes because they just dump them out anyway.
In fact, my sock basket is rarely ever folded.
I don’t like doing dishes.
My living room right now (which I can see because I am sitting at the top of the stairs) has throw pillows on the floor, papers on the couch, a lamp shade that’s crooked, shoes scattered by the door, and a couple empty boxes waiting for the toys to be dumped back in.
My pinterest board however, has pictures of perfectly organized living rooms.
I love Starbucks and will drive there sometimes with the kids in the back and then I will take the long way home.
I get impatient with my kids.
And I’m normal.
My kids? Well, they’re normal too. Or as normal as kids who want every single thing fair are ever going to be.
Motherhood isn’t based on perfection.
It’s not based on having gluten free (which we must have in my world because my son has Celiac Disease) or whole wheat macaroni with organic apples and socks that are matched and never getting impatient and a perfectly picked up living room that looks like the instagram feed.
Motherhood is simply real.
Real with real moms who lose their patience, who want to throw in the towel, who have kids (like my Samuel who is now in the hallway next to me telling me he doesn’t want to go to bed now) who don’t stay in bed. It’s full of moms who have to work who’d rather stay home. Or moms who stay home who’d rather work. Or moms who are simply tired with the every day same routine.
It’s full of real moms who take their kids to the apple orchard and the zoo and the coffee shop and the grocery store and the doctor and to school and all of that normal stuff. It’s full of moms who feel like all they do is the laundry again and again and if they see clean clothes stuffed in the hamper again they threaten to take them away and sell them (or maybe that’s just me). It’s full of moms who are happy, joyful, sad, overwhelmed, and well, let’s face it real.
That’s the being enough mom.
That’s my confession.
It’s not that I don’t want to be better. I think at heart we wake up each day and want each day to be better than the next. That’s why I celebrate pulling up the boot straps and trying again and again and giving yourself grace. (Don’t forget grace. Ever.) Motherhood has moments of extreme patience, extreme trying, and really learning to not compare.
Motherhood isn’t based on external markers of perfection.
Motherhood is an act of learning. Every single day. It’s being okay with the fact that maybe you like the convenience of that boxed macaroni and cheese. You know why? It’s because it’s not based on what other moms are doing – it’s based on you – on you knowing your family, knowing what is best for your family, and being brave and confident in what you’re doing.
Motherhood, and in fact life, is often this journey of waking up and discovering self.
That’s the truth.
So I tell you, you right now, you the mother in whatever stage of motherhood you may find yourself that you are doing just fine. You are doing fine if your kids don’t stay in bed, you hate potty training (does anyone like that one?), your kids have melt downs in the store, you get exasperated, you sneak the last bit of ice cream for yourself, and well, you’re just you. Just keep trying, keep doing your best, and keep growing more and more confident in your ability to mother.
You know what your kids need? Of course you do. They don’t need perfect.
They need you.
You, the imperfect wonderfully perfect for your kids, mother.
That’s my mom confession today.
Oh yes, and we’re having hot dogs and peaches and macaroni and cheese for lunch.
Rachel Marie Martin is the author of the life-changing, soul-finding book called The Brave Art of Motherhood and founder of FindingJoy. She believes that life is too short to lose your own heart in the midst of motherhood and provides hope, encouragement and that rally cry to live a life of purpose and joy.