I remember thinking, when I was a younger mom with only one or two babies, that everyone else had it together but me. That I was an anomoly in my inability to "get my crap together". I often felt alone and struggled to not compare my mothering to others, and likely not the true picture of their mothering, either.
I felt shame when I missed appointments, or showed up to birthday parties a few hours late (One time I showed up like 4 hours late because I had transposed the times on my calendar). I felt overwhlemed. Drained.
The first few years, I blamed it on the closeness in which we had our children. They weren't irish twins, but I basically still had a baby when my second baby was born. (If they're still in diapers, can't talk, and take two naps, they're a baby!) I thought my lack of orgniziation, my scattered brained thoughts, and my constant tiredness would all magically disapear once my kids were: 1. sleeping through the night. 2. or maybe once they were in mother's morning out 3. or in elementary school? At some point, I'll get it together.
But, I've come to the conclusion that I will never.ever.ever. have my crap together. I'm 11.5 years in, and it just isn't going to happen. As we progressed from two kids to four, then sleeping (mostly. Someone come tell my five year old that she is supposed to sleep through the night now. Thankyouverymuch.) mother's morning out, to three out of four kids in elementary school I realized it didn't get easier. In fact, I feel like it has gotten harder. More activities, bigger kids, bigger problems, more DRAMA (oh, gracious! The drama of preteen girls and boys!)
I am so the epitamy of "crap not together." I still miss appointments, forget, or come on a different day all together. You guys, just a few months ago, I showed up to my doctor appointment an hour early! I sat there talking on the phone and wrote down the time as they told me their opening and I STILL wrote it down wrong. I yell at the kids when I don't want to, especially in front of neighbors I don't know, (apparently that's my thing now. Don't ask.) I cry all.the.dang.time. I cry when I am talking to customer service workers when I feel like I can't explain myself. I feel overwhelming stress, I forget school notes, and don't look at homework folders. I give kids the wrong medicines, forget to put the right amount of sugar in sugar cookie frosting, send texts to the wrong people, even think I've thought I've emailed someone and never actually do.
And today? Today I cried in the clearane aisle of TJMaxx (where I found this mug, perfect for today.) Feeling overhwelmed when my out-of-town husband texted me to tell me his work trip was likely going to be extended.
But, I also know that I am not alone. I know most of us don't have our crap together. It's something that I can laugh with friends about now. Knowing that it is normal. Knowing that most of us are in this together. Knowing that it is what makes me relatable, it allows me to be vulnerable. It allows me to admit when I've made mistakes in other areas of my life. Maybe we need to, collectively as mothers, lower our standards on what is abtainable by one human being. Maybe we need to realize that we, as mothers, cannot do it all all of the time.
It doesn't matter if you only have one fresh, tiny newborn, or you have 6 grown kids. It is ok to not have it together. It's ok to feed your kids cereal when your husband is out of town. It's ok for your kids to pull clean clothes straight out of the dryer, where the clothes have been sitting for the last four days because you haven't had a chance to fold them and put them away. It is ok to take your kids to school in your pj's and slippers. It is ok to cry in the clearance aisle at TJMaxx. Don't ever let someone tell you it's not.
I'm trying to shift my focus. I am trying to look at it as a gift, and not a curse. If I had it togther, would I as easily acknowledge my need for grace? It is a question I have been pondering lately, and one that leads me back to Christ. My identity is not (or shoud not be) found in "Best mom who has it together". My identity is found in the One who DOES have it together. And, I'm so thankful for that.
Tracy Abney is a certified birth and bereavement doula serving Huntsville, Madison and other parts of north Alabama.