What a lovely picture of an adorable family. Look at that handsome bearded dad and that mom with every hair in place. Oh my goodness, those beautiful children seem so sweet and happy. They look so perfect. I bet they live in a perfect house with perfect cars and perfect, well-behaved golden retrievers. I bet their house is spotless, no one’s ever cranky and everyone eats their vegetables. Who in the world are these perfect people bragging about their perfectness with their perfect little family picture? Oh, wait. That’s my family. I didn’t even recognize us because we are so far from perfect.
I’ve been racking my brain for some words of wisdom to share about how to balance life as a working mom. Do I talk about tips to stay organized? Should I share how to slow down to enjoy life’s little moments? How about staying on top of chores or not losing your identity? Surely I have some little nuggets to share that can somehow have a positive impact? But as I walked around my home, looking for something to inspire me, I realize something because I saw this.
Tsk, tsk, tsk. Working mom FAIL. How am I qualified to tell you how your life can be better when I struggle every day and can’t even get my own act together? Sadness. I have no nuggets to give unless they are in breaded, chicken form.
Why can’t I be like that perfect mom in that perfect family picture? Or better yet, the perfect working mom I’ve created in my mind. The one that looks like Monica Bellucci, cooks like Rachel Ray, crafts like Martha Stewart, works out like Jillian Michaels, makes a difference like Michelle Obama. Instead, I have dirty toilets, crusty dishes, a perpetual clean laundry pile with a corresponding perpetual dirty laundry pile, and microwaveable mac and cheese with frozen chicken nuggets.
But yet through all of this—the self-doubt, the chaos, the uncertainty, the mess—I feel peace and joy each day for the life God has given me. This is because I know my purpose. Take a step back from the details and look at LIFE. What does it all mean? Why am I here? For me, it’s very clear. Everything I do, I do it in love for those around me, especially my husband and children. Part of the imprint I will leave in this world will be my children, and their children. So every decision I make involves how it will impact them. Will my decisions and my actions help them to become better people? What can I do to guide and lead them to find their purpose in life and be fulfilled? How can I teach them long-lasting lessons that will help them in making the right choices?
This isn’t about being a working mom or a stay-at-home mom. We are moms with different day jobs. But our focus is the same: our children. Let’s encourage and support each other in our mission for the betterment of our children and our legacy. And that fantasy of being a perfect mom? Let’s cast that unrealistic expectation away. We can never be perfect. We will make mistakes. But that’s ok. Because each day is new and an opportunity to start again.
I hope to be ancient and wrinkled and gray one day. I imagine what it will be like to be surrounded by my children and their children. Joy, happiness and love flood me. And one day when I’m gone, I hope their memories of me are filled with joy, happiness and love. I hope they will never feel second. I hope they will never wonder if I loved something else—work, the dirty dishes or anything else distracting—more than them.
So, I guess I do have a non-breaded, non-chicken nugget for you. Chew on this: what do you want your children’s memories of you to be? The mom that is consumed by the details? Or the mom that is completely lovely in all her imperfections, filled to the brim with love and hopes and dreams? I know which mom I want to be.
Family portrait photo credit: Kristen Bailey Photography
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