I'm not one to aspire for average anything. In my household growing up, C's may as well have been F's. Well, if I'm being completely honest, B's may as well have been F's. Average was never an option.
But the further I get into parenting, the more I am convinced it is one giant exercise in learning you will never be excellent at anything. Ever. Again. Suddenly, average doesn't seem so bad.
I know moms who are giants in this whole mothering thing. Moms who make it look easy, who make being a mother and a wife look they were born to do it.
I think of Joy, who lovingly raised 4 kids of her own, and then adopted 3 more. Whose house is meticulously decorated and always looks spotless. And who is always cool, calm and collected - oh, and have I mentioned she looks like a model? Or Erika, who has 5 kids and the oldest is 7. And she homeschools them all. And they're the smartest, most well-rounded kids you'll meet. Erika always has a love for Jesus in all she does, and radiates love and life through the managed chaos that is her life. Oh, and she sews - and has an incredible vegetable garden, right in the urban jungle of Los Angeles. She's a flipping modern day Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Or Stacey, who not only works full time, but has two sweet little girls, one of whom has 1/2 a heart like Bodie (so much for using Bodie's heart as my excuse for my averageness!). And she travels cross country tirelessly advocating for all of our CHD kids. And is the single most reliable person I think I have ever met. Or Valerie, who moved her family cross country to be near better medical care for her husband, and near family to help them in their time of need. Who works her butt off all day and then drops down to the floor to play with her daughter all evening, and always makes sure her daughter eats her veggies. Who ALWAYS gives 110% attention to her daughter, who never utters the phrase "I'm too tired to play with you honey...go entertain yourself for a bit." Who remembers what it's like to be a child and embraces how fleeting childhood is.
To these moms, the A+ superstar moms, I beg you, PLEASE DON'T STOP BEING AWESOME. Truly. Because you give the rest of us something to aspire to. Honestly, you're my real life Pinterest Boards. I can see what you do, and creatively think of ways to do it easier, cheaper and more quickly. I call it "the Amy touch." Which I suppose could just as easily be called the "the half-assed approach." Whatev. It gets the job done.
But to the rest of us, muddling through the class of C-level motherhood together, for the love of all things holy and beautiful, can we PUHLEASE stop beating one another up, falling all over one another trying to reach the A+ level? Can't we just accept that we're all doing the best we can, it's ok to be average, and maybe being "average" looks a little different for each of us?
I try. I really do. And I do a lot of things ok. I sort of sew, well enough for my daughter to be so impressed by my homemade book covers that she offered to have me make them for her entire class...but not so well enough I can get them done in less than 45 minutes apiece, making her offer pretty problematic...My house is sort of clean, if my super clean kitchen countertops (the only thing I CAN manage to keep clean) balance out the clothes that seem to find themselves all over my bedroom floor...You get the picture. I'm an ok mom. I try to be an A+ mom, but I've sort of realized it's not happening. Some days I do better than others. But, at the end of the day, I have a lot of irons in the fire and they can't all be tended to every day. So I have to pick and choose. Some days I make better choices than others. On the whole, my kids are relatively healthy and happy, and know and love Jesus. As far as I'm concerned, the rest is just icing on the cake. I was feeling ok with this.
But then a couple of weeks ago I saw a post on one of my message boards about a mom that didn't have any fruit and vegetables in her house, who only fed her kids processed foods and how sad it was. I immediately wondered whether I could somehow hack into my babysitter's email account, to see if she was saying something similar about me. We're usually somewhat healthy eaters, but with everything going on this summer, healthy eating just hasn't been on the top of our agenda. Maybe I once picked Sierra up from school with a "snack" of a slurpee and a bag of pretzels. And maybe I let Bodie eat Cheeze-Its for breakfast. And maybe both of those things happened last week. I'm not a bad mom who needs anyone to feel sorry for me - it's just where we're at right now. I guess my point is that maybe we don't need to beat the mom up who only serves her kids processed food, because today, that happens to be the best she can do. Maybe she's not intentionally trying to inject her kids with chemicals. Maybe she's just decided that other things right now are more important. And that's ok.
Wouldn't it be awesome if we, as moms, instead of looking for the ways we're different to belittle the choices other moms have made, could focus on what we have in common - that we're all just trying to do the best we can? Every day, we as moms have to make choices. Choices that often feel like the difference between our child living on the streets or in the White House someday. Processed food vs. raw food. Overscheduling our kids vs. risking that they'll be totally undersocialized because we don't have them in enough activities. Skipping bath to read one more book and remaining so stinky no one will want to sit near them at school, thereby ruining their social life forever vs. skipping that book, stunting their ability to learn to read, thereby dumbing them down for life. Lots of decisions. Lots of guilt.
How about we, as moms, support one another, build one another up, instead of adding to the guilt? How about we assume we're all starting from the same place - trying to make the best decisions with the limited time and resources we have? Maybe that means only organic food and homemade meals for one mom, maybe it means all processed food, but the chance to have more family time together because she's not cooking to another. Maybe it means getting a workout in every day for her sanity to one mom, maybe it means consistently getting a full night sleep to another. Maybe it means a beautifully clean house and the calm it brings to one mom, and maybe it means a messy home and the joy it represents to another. I'm not saying they have to be mutually exclusive, only that none of us have truly walked a mile in another mom's shoes, so we don't know what goes into her decision making process.
Maybe, just maybe, if we could learn to do this, our children could learn from us. They could learn that, just because others make different priorities than we do doesn't make them bad. Just different. How cool would that be if we, as moms, could reshape how the next generations of moms relate to each other?
In the meantime, to my fellow average mamas, I lift my coffee mug to you in solidarity!