How do you look like you have it all together? I know you all say you don’t, but you do, you do, you look like you do.
You, the working mom who pulls into her driveway after work and watches the kids play in the front yard before you go in to start dinner?
You, the stay-at-home mom who tells me she doesn’t clean, can’t stay on top of it all, but is popping out babies and hosting playdates and running 10Ks, all in the same week, when I can barely make it to the dentist on time?
You, the freelancing writer who magically balances the clean dishes on a single finger of her left hand while cashing her paychecks with the right? How the heck do you do it? Because it certainly looks like everybody else has it together, and I’m staring at the dog hair and constant slobber on the floor and wondering if anybody would notice if I just shaved our old Luca in his sleep.
I can’t do it. I can’t even pretend to stay on top of it. Any of it. I try, I try, I do try, but…I have given up on perfect. Do you guys hear me? I gave up on perfect a long time ago (basically right around the time the second child was born). What I’m struggling with now is being okay with not being perfect, if that makes sense, and being okay with it seems way harder than being perfect itself.
See, I want you to feel free to stop by my house at the last minute–I truly do–and I know that I’ll be okay with not making sure the place is immaculate beforehand (who? the time?), but you also know that I will apologize over and over again (it’s quite annoying), for the wayward dog slobber or mess in the living room or that without blush on I sometimes look the color of old pasta I didn’t realize had gotten stuck to the bottom of the sauce pot. I want to meet up with you at the park this Friday–and I plan to–but also know that if Quinn’s up that night with a nightmare, or Cian decides to paint the walls with his poo, it might be a little trickier getting out of the house. I try, try, try, to sort through all the emails about school, and soccer, and that blog post I said I would do, and the one from the friend who said to hell with texting, I’m actually going to email Leah for once, but so often I feel like I’m drowning that I don’t know how to get back up.
I want to hang out with you–yes, you–not just because you’re perfect, but because you seem fun. I can’t be perfect. And sometimes I feel like I’m not even doing a good job of being imperfect. Friendships, I’m looking at you. I need you so badly in my life, but my gosh, am I letting you slide. Tired. I’m tired. Aren’t you tired? You just completed a triathlon eight months after having your fourth baby. You have to be, just a little, right?
My mom always says that we have absolutely no idea what goes on inside somebody else’s house, or marriage, or head, and she’s right–what we see on the outside is often only what we’re allowed to see, but gosh, you guys. I look around my new neighborhood–all the perfect houses and manicured lawns and clean, clean cars that the women jog by as they go on their runs every day–and think that maybe I’m doing something wrong. Because what you’re letting me see sure does make me feel badly about myself sometimes.
I set the alarm at five this morning to work. I actually made it to the computer at 6. As I type this, at 7:42 a.m., the dog is actually dripping some sort of fluid onto the floor by the front door (the dog sitter thinks he has mouth cancer. Isn’t that fun?). David is feeding Quinn a breakfast of yogurt and muffins I made too many days ago but we have to eat them because hello, they’re muffins I made in my oven. All of our walls are still white because we still haven’t exactly “settled in” to the house we bought four months ago. I’m trying to figure out if I have enough time to shower before the baby wakes, but honestly, I just don’t feel like going through the motions just yet, and Dave has to jump in before me anyway because he’s got to get started on the one job in the house that actually pays the mortgage. It’s a rainy, rainy day, which is sort of a nice change, but I know that by 10 a.m., the kids will be bored, Cian will have pooped his pants, everyone will be begging to watch My Little Pony, I’ll be trying to not check Facebook for the fiftieth time on my phone (it’s reflex. Just swipe and check, swipe and check. I annoy myself), and wondering if the kids can face peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for lunch the fourth time this week.
You. You, in your perfect houses with your perfect lives and your personal records for your latest half-marathon. Yeah, I’m looking at you, you who always wears her hair down like she just walked out of the salon. Stop making me feel bad. I’m only just now able to get a handle on okay.
Perfect isn’t going to happen until I’m able to shave the dog.