I sometimes glance and envy the women who really seem to have their lives together. Their kids look like they brush their hair, they wear just the right shade of lipstick, and their houses are clean and smell like homemade banana bread (like not even a Yankee Candle knockoff in a banana bread scent but an actual, measured, stirred and baked in an oven banana bread). They know when the spirit days are at school, they are on time or even early to lacrosse practice, and they remember all of the equipment too. Even the elbow pads.
I am not her.
Just last week I forgot Dr. Seuss Day. And on Thursday my son forgot to take his actual lacrosse stick to actual lacrosse practice. The last time I was early for something was in the spring of 2003. And that was probably the last time I baked something that didn’t come from a box. I do, however, wear lip gloss … when I can find it in the bottom of my purse that resembles a Mary Poppins bag that, unfortunately, does not contain Mary Poppins. For every one victory I feel like I have achieved in this life, I feel like I have failed in about 19 other small or giant ways.
Here is the thing though about the mother who looks like she has it all together: chances are, there is a piece of her that is unraveling in some way. Maybe she bakes to relieve stress or maybe she dreams of opening a bakery in Paris one day and doesn’t know how that can ever happen when she is buried in bills or maybe she is having the worst possible day and lipstick and carbs are the only way that she’s able to hold it together. We don’t know who else is struggling behind the curtain. We don’t know. So let’s not judge one another, for better or worse.
I think what we all might need is a bit less of the mindset that someone else has it all and instead bring to the table a little more compassion and truth telling. And if hard truths do surface and you find out that someone in your world is going through some type of hell, please do not act in a way that shows that you are on a higher path or act like darkness is somehow contagious and avoid them entirely. It is a perfect time in an imperfect situation to offer helpings of words like, “I’m here,” or “I see you,” or “You are not alone.” And then say, “I’m here again. Anything you need, I’m here.” And wine usually helps these conversations too. It pairs well with banana bread.
And let’s celebrate what connects us and any small or giant victories that come our way. It is therapeutic to know that you have a tribe that wants to see you thrive.
Here is a failure lined victory of my own. A few months ago, someone in my life told me that in separating from my husband, I was going to shatter my children. Shatter. Not only was that a tremendously hurtful thing to speak out loud but it also made me question my relationship with this person and how little they knew me or my children at all. But they did plant a seed in me. A seed that could bend, break or bloom in me. What I chose to do was to make sure that it bloomed into something beautiful.
I pick happiness every single day, and I hug my children until they are the ones to let go. And it is a challenging journey and something always has to give. I forget and I’m human and I stumble and swear and sometimes all of it at once. But I am determined to do right by my four children every day. And I wonder sometimes if they can see that. And I wonder sometimes if I can see that.
The other day my oldest daughter, my 12-year old, Lucy, had to write about a woman that inspires her. And she wrote about me. And she left the letter on my bed with a heart on it.
She is a good seed.
As it turns out, someone else’s interpretation of what can shatter us might instead save us. Collect your good seeds. Let them flourish within you. And remember on those dark, gray, full of failure types of days, that within you grows an invincible garden.
And no one can take that away from you.
And if you happen to need a listening ear, I am here. I can’t promise the house will be clean, but I can promise to light some candles for you.
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Katie Yackley Moore is a freelance writer, yoga instructor and momma of four. She adores coffee shops, laughing until it hurts and impromptu dance parties. Her work has appeared on Scary Mommy, Mamalode and HuffPost Parents. She has published a journal entitled “Dream a Bigger Dream” and the children’s books “You Are a Warrior” and “We are Family” and just finished her first novel. Catch up with her between tea breaks at The Naked Momma and on Facebook.