I have six kids. Now that they are older, fairly often people don’t realize this when they first meet me because the older ones are off doing their own thing while I am only still verbally “parenting” (Don’t run! Don’t touch that! Don’t hit your sister!) the two youngest. But most of the time, when people do find out….”You have SIX KIDS?! Oh my!” they often look at me differently. Yes, frequently with a non-verbal acknowledgment that they think I am crazy, but then, when they are introduced to my kids (who are generally polite and well-behaved) they tend to make some comment about how I am superwoman or that I am so “amazing.”
If by amazing you mean that I get out of bed every morning and my kids are alive, then yes, I am amazing. But in reality, I fall far short of the title of superwoman, as I think every one of us does, but we all have someone in mind that we think fits that bill. We are all guilty of holding up the measuring stick to someone else and finding ourselves lacking. This comparison game used to be limited to our local circle of women in the neighborhood, work, school, extra-curricular set, and local place of worship. Not now.
Welcome to the age of the internet where we can compare ourselves to beautifully glossy pictures of perfectly coiffed women, supremely decorated immaculate homes, or sunlit cherubic children blissfully learning about the wonders of nature on a glorious afternoon.
Look! Here’s one such photo!
But let me share the reality behind that photo:
I had planned this great afternoon adventure for us. My oldest was at work, so the younger 5 would join me on a brief walk down the local trail just five minutes from our house. Not too long. Not too far. (I was being realistic and trying to minimize complaints.) By the time I got home from taking one child to the orthodontist, the chaos had already begun. Youngest refused to change into appropriate clothes. One daughter said her shoes were too tight and the heels chafed. Another daughter balked about cleaning up the dog poo in the living room and told me she had washed the breakfast dishes (even though they were still sitting there and I saw them with my own eyes). The other daughter suddenly developed a “serious case” of heatstroke and couldn’t possibly leave the house. All this while son was making mischief and hitting a sister. At that point I screamed. Yes. Screamed.
“I AM NOT TAKING YOU!!! YOU ARE GOING TO STAY HOME AND DO THE CHORES THAT YOU NEVER DO EVEN THOUGH I TELL YOU ALL THE TIME TO DO THEM!!! AND YOU WILL EACH CLEAN A BATHROOM!!”
I herded the two youngest out the door with a stern warning not to fight or complain and the acknowledgement that they were only going because I needed to leave the house and they would have to clean their ridiculously dirty rooms when we got home.
As I tried to salvage my idyllic, Pinterest-perfect, Instagram-worthy nature walk, I was hit in the face with my “shortcomings.” Despite being surrounded by the beauty of nature, observing flora and fauna, and hearing the sounds of birds, crickets, and grasshoppers, all my kids could talk about were scenes from their favorite movies. I would point out a cool bug. They’d stop and look for two seconds and return to a narrative of Ice Age 2. I’d point out a crane drinking from the creek and that would remind them of the cranes they saw pooping at nana and papa’s house three years ago. An observation of the exposed roots on a huge downed tree produced the insight that they needed more air (conditioning).
But if you only look at the photos in this post, you’d think everything was wonderful – and it is – wonderfully human. By the time we went home, the girls had finished their cleaning, they were all enjoying each other’s company (for the most part), and we all sat down to a wonderfully raucous dinner (as is usual in this house).
I am not perfect. I do my best. My best is never good enough and reality will never live up to the cropped and edited photos that don’t show you the conversations about bird poop. But I am the mom that G-d gave to my children. He knew I wasn’t perfect. He knows all my strengths and weaknesses and that they are what will help shape these kids into who they will become. I am only “less than” if I take time to compare myself to what I think I should be.
Don’t allow yourself to waste time comparing yourself to what is put in front of you via magazines, social media, or the Internet as a whole. You will always be lacking, because that is not reality. Behind every perfect picture is an imperfect person.
Take time to discover the beautiful parts of yourself, the wonderfully imperfect moments of your life. You may have to weed through some messes to recognize them, but they are there and they are uniquely yours!
“…For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:10