A while back my friend Kristi wrote a blog post about the days when parenting is awkward.
I remember nodding my head through the entire post.
“YES!!” I kept thinking, “Yes, I do usually feel like a traveling 3 ring circus when I take the kids out.”
It was oddly comforting to know at least one other person felt the same way.
You know that expression “as cool as a cucumber”?
That’s how I want to feel when I take the kids out. Whether I’m alone or out with Andy, I just want to feel put together and cool and breezy.
BUT I DON’T.
I feel more like a hot mess.
I’m as “hot as a jalapeño” instead.
Including the sweat.
I’m constantly sweating. Whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall, I’m usually sweating profusely as I lug the kids in and out of the car, in and out of the church, in and out of their coats, in and out of the store, in and out of the carseats.
Falling breathlessly into my seat when it’s over, I almost always feel like I need a shower.
I also feel like I’m doing something wrong. Like all this should be easier.
I’ve blogged before about how I white knuckle my way through each of my days. Pushing so hard. Always so intense and focused. Trying to accomplish just a little more.
It’s the same way when I’m on the go with the kids. I strive SO HARD to keep it all together. To keep track of everyone. To have fun. To be safe. To look cool as a cucumber even though I’m hot as a jalepeño (literally and figuratively).
Now that summer is in full swing, my outings often lead me to parks and pools with all 3 of my babies.
Before leaving the house, I carefully pack our bag, making sure I’m fully prepared for every situation…thinking this might help me stay cool while we are there.
Inevitably I forget something anyway. But, even when I don’t, I still feel like a hot mess juggling everyone and everything.
I look around at the other moms (and nannies) and everyone else seems to be running well-oiled machines. They look fashionable not flustered. Breezy not sweaty. Perfectly prepared not hairy canary.
Just the other day I was at the park for swim lessons experiencing all that I’ve just mentioned. While I was sitting on the edge of the pool sweating and stressing, it occurred to me to take a step back (or maybe 30,000 feet) to look at myself.
I too rolled up in a double jogging stroller with 2 out of 3 kiddos buckled in and reclining peacefully (no one else could tell Drew had been up since 6am crying constantly and that I was worried Avery would start melting down at any minute from also being up too early).
I too had a cute duffle bag packed to the brim with everything but the kitchen sink (which no one else could tell was digging into my shoulder, making me sore and angry with every step I took).
I too was sitting on the edge of the baby pool talking to a friend while my kids played in the water (no one else could tell I was experiencing full-on ADD trying to watch both girls play while keeping Drew out of the sun and attempting to have a soul-bonding conversation with my friend, all the while feeling like I was failing at all three).
I too packed a lunch for my kids and sat feeding the baby while they mostly ate everything set before them (no one else could tell that I was doing complex algorithms in my head to determine whether the girls were getting enough veggies and protein in relation to what they ate for breakfast and would be eating for dinner or that I was extremely self conscious giving Drew a bottle in front of my friend who only breastfeeds).
From the outside things didn’t look so bad. No one could see how much inner turmoil I was experiencing at every turn.
It occurred to me that maybe I looked cool and breezy to someone else! That maybe all of us are frantically schlepping our kids all over town and feeling like a hot mess in the process!
I love love love Glennon Doyle Melton and I remember taking a huge breath of relief when she suggested that life isn’t hard because we’re doing it wrong.
It’s just HARD.
But we can do hard things!
I’m starting to figure out that life is not an “us” and “them” situation.
There isn’t a group of moms who have it all together and those who are a complete disaster. We are all a complete disaster sometimes. We all have good days where we’re shining and feeling full of life and hope too.
We don’t know much of anything about anyone else from what we see on the outside. We could be catching them on their best or worst day. We could watch them looking like a cucumber when they’re really feeling like a jalapeño.
This makes me want to give us all the benefit of the doubt more often. Not to criticize someone who’s having an outwardly bad moment. Not to idolize someone who seems to have it all together.
I want to remember that we are all standing side by side on a level plane. We’re all desperately human. Flawed and magnificent all at the same time.
Created in the image of a holy God and rescued from our endless sin by his very own Son.
Cucumber or jalapeño, we need him and we need to love, accept, and encourage one another.
This is all giving me something to chew on lately… (no pun intended ;)