When Rob and I were just two twentysomethings who worked together and didn’t particularly like each other, people constantly tried to get us together. It was super annoying. Their best reason for doing this?
“You guys would have the cutest kids!!!”
Note: If you’re trying to set two people up, this is NOT a great start to a relationship. Typically thinking about having kids together does NOT occur before the first date. Just sayin.
And now that we are married (after waiting a full year to date til all the would-be matchmakers finally gave up), we DO have the cutest kids.
I mean, every parent thinks that. We all do. But with their luscious eyelashes and lovely skin (and some well-placed dimples & freckles), my kids ARE super cute. The matchmakers were right! (Don’t tell them. It might encourage them!)
But the thing is this: When we go out, I don’t care that my kids look messy.
Most of the time, we are rolling out of the house in a tornado of four kids and a pregnant mama. I’m thankful if we have shoes and pants on.
The girls hardly sit still enough for me to brush their hair once a day. They rip out clips and ponytails, so much of the time, their hair is disheveled and looks slept on.
I get random comments and I know sometimes we drive my mom nuts. Heck, sometimes it drives ME nuts that my adorable daughters have messy hair constantly blocking their adorable faces.
This week my son went to church with marker not quite scrubbed off his face, giving him a sort of five o’clock shadow on his forehead.
Today my three year old is wearing bedroom slippers as shoes.
(This year I accidentally went away for a weekend with shoes that didn’t match. So she comes by it honestly.)
Several times this week my kids wore the same clothes two days in a row.
When we pull up in the minivan, I have to chase down the trash that flutters out as I open doors. Trash that seems to multiply no matter how many times I throw it out or have the kids clean up. Toys jump ship and get run over the next time I pull from Park to Reverse.
We are a sight to behold. A ragtag family with messy hair and untucked shirts (except for Sawyer, who is meticulous about shirt-tucking) and possibly marker on our faces.
Okay, maybe we aren’t THAT bad. And my kids’ cuteness makes up for a lot. But the final thing is that when it comes down to it, I DON’T CARE IF OUR KIDS LOOK MESSY.
I don’t care because I think sometimes we care because we think OTHER people care. And judge us.
When we go out, I KNOW we are being judged. Sometimes silently. Sometimes by small comments or questions or out-and-out remarks about hair, shoes, lack of shoes, clothes, or chalk dust acting as honorary pantyhose.
Sometimes I get annoyed in the moment. Sometimes I come up with something funny that doesn’t have an edge to it. Sometimes I’m a little bit of a jerk. Then I have to remind myself that I don’t care.
Yes, it categorizes me. It puts me square in the not-type-A boat. (This isn’t a slight to you, type-A moms, by the way!) It puts me in the doesn’t-have-it-all-together-and-is-okay-with-people-knowing-it canoe.
You see, I’m making choices.
Some moms seem to hold it all together, and maybe they really do. Or maybe they just SEEM to hold it together and are struggling in a secret place. They may be trying to live up to some unseen (or imaginary) expectations or even their own definitions of what this parenting thing should look like.
I remember talking with my mom when Sawyer was just a baby. “I spent too much time trying to force you into dresses you didn’t want to wear,” she said. “I cared too much about what other people thought sometimes. It was exhausting and I wish I could go back and tell myself not to care.”
I catch myself doing that sometimes. Probably all moms do.
For some moms, this is just not a big deal. If this is you, you may be reading this post thinking I’m an alien and you totally can’t relate. That’s fine! Because we all Mom differently and we all bring our own selves with our strengths and weaknesses to the table. Some moms aren’t pretending to have it all together when their kids look totally awesome. That’s just their norm. And that’s fantastic!
Me? I can’t hold it all together. Not even slightly. I can’t keep our house clean and also have fun with my kids. I can’t put laundry away in a timely manner AND run a blog. (Or two. And a podcast.) I can’t do all the things I want to do, so I let some things slide. I’m making choices.
My kids are happy. They are loved. They are well fed. (Except the one who refuses to eat most dinners I make.) They are typically dirty and disheveled because they were just having a great time playing in the sandbox or chasing each other through the backyard. We work more on developing character and trying to teach them how to behave and what it looks like to be teachable than we do scrubbing faces or matching socks. That doesn’t mean you can’t do both. We simply place more emphasis on some things and often the appearance is what we let slide.
Kids can be messy and also have their basic needs met. They can be messy and still have killer moms.
(CLICK TO TWEET!)
So when you see me or another messy mom rolling up in the minivan missing shoes and chasing down napkins that blew away in the parking lot, we don’t need pity, disdain, or judgment. We may be barely surviving and having shoes is a Really Big Deal. Or we may just be choosing different priorities.
I’m a little afraid to ask a question at the end of this post. But I’ll ask and let’s keep it nice in the comments because we are ALL DIFFERENT AND THAT’S FINE.
Can you relate to this struggle to feel like your kids HAVE to be presentable? Or is that easy for you?
Share in the comments, even if keeping everybody neat comes easy. We can all still be friends. 🙂