For better or for worse I have made a habit out of being completely honest with you. Well then … why stop now? Last Monday, I was borderline belligerent. In fact, the only thing keeping me from crossing that border, were my two beautiful children with four very open ears. Honestly, I rarely swear. I don’t like to … I always feel bad after, but last week, nothing would have soothed my temper tantrum quite so well as a good verbal tirade. It all started with underwear.
You see, I had spent the weekend folding and putting away four baskets of laundry. And you’d think, as I did, that in all those clothes there would be at least ONE pair of boy underwear right? Wrong. I had just gotten home, we had twenty minutes before soccer practice, the cat had an accident, my daughter needed me upstairs, and my son sat in the wet spot where I cleaned the cat mess! OF COURSE! Because why, in our whole entire two story plus basement house would you choose to sit anywhere else but the two by one square space of carpet that’s wet!?! Needless to say, he needed new clothes and underwear. That’s where I started to lose it.
The next twenty minutes involved multiple trips upstairs and downstairs, dumping clean baskets, turning over dryer-fulls and scrambling through his empty drawer just to realize that it is in fact possible to do endless loads of laundry and still not have the one item you need. Finally, in a state of pure rage, I slammed my hand against the wall (internally cursing my laundry to the depths of hades) and then fuming worse at my broken blood vessel finger that was now turning purple from the knuckle up. Let me clarify that this entire time, my son was wandering around behind me dressed in nothing more than a t-shirt and soccer socks. No pressure. Just a little naked shadow to keep me motivated.
Edging on manic, I then dumped the ONE dirty basket I had left, and lo and behold … there were the underwear! I forcefully tossed a pair at my son who looked at me (and the dragon-like smoke coming out of my ears) with caution. “Umm…” he hedged, “Mom? Are these – clean?”
Ready to internally combust at this point, I lifted three fingers and proceeded to point out his options with vengeance. “It is either those, or mine, or your sister’s!”
“These are great,” he smiled appeasingly, skinny legs nearly tripping as he pulled them on with haste.
The short ride to soccer consisted of me yelling at my kids, “You know I’m not mad at you right!?!”
“Yeah,” they said, glancing nervously at one another. “We know mom.”
The afternoon was a total fail. I was a total fail. Literally slinking like a deflated balloon, I stepped out of the car to see my blonde and beautiful and always-put-together friend dropping her son off five minutes late too. “Hey you,” I said. “Rough day?”
“Totally,” she said, taking her keys from her four-year-old who sat ready-for-anything in the driver’s seat.
In a moment of desired absolution, I confessed my whole previous scenario. I don’t know what I expected exactly, but it wasn’t the laughter-filled hug that I received. After parting, she told me that her afternoon consisted of her son getting off the bus late, refusing to leave the house before taking WAY too long in the bathroom, and losing his sock somewhere between the toilet and the car. So while my son had on dirty underwear, her’s had one ankle sock, and one shinguard respectively. In that moment … as her small daughter screamed from the car and her four-year-old came yanking on her skirt to get her attention, I was vindicated. I saw the same exasperation, the same “God? A little help here!” look passing over her tired smile, and in that … I was renewed. Because so often, I try to be the “perfect” mom, but it’s not about being perfect – it’s about realizing that everyone else is as imperfect as you are (even if they’re great at hiding it).
Jackie Kennedy once said, “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” And sometimes … I’m afraid she’s right, but I’m more afraid that I have already “bungled.” Because in all honesty, I make a mess of things. I lose my temper. I wash the wrong laundry. I say I will and don’t. I get there when I get there. I mismatch socks. I fall asleep too early. I wake up too late. I forget before. I remember after. I fail. Epically so.
But then … grace overwhelms me, because today is Mother’s Day … and I am given gifts by the gifts God gave me. My daughter wrote me a book that tells me what makes me “amazing.” According to her, I am amazing because I love the color blue. I play with her. We bake on Sundays. I help her with work. And that’s all it takes. My son gives me a print of his hand, on his card (written in his most careful handwriting) he says I’m the best. I know I’m not, but am SO thankful it’s not my opinion that matters – it’s his. Just like that – I’m absolved. Thank heaven love is blind; would it be too much to wish it were also deaf?
Vindicated, as are you.