One of my self-appointed mottos is "You only get to make one first impression." For whatever reason, I try my darndest to make sure that when people meet me for the first time, they think, "This is a chick that has got her stuff together." And if all goes according to plan, that is the impression of me that I hope to keep with them.
I always try to make sure that my house is neat, the kids and I are well-dressed, the kids are on their best behavior, and I appear happy, friendly, and controlled. In short, I want to look like I am the perfect mother, the perfect wife, and I have the perfect life.
I don't feel that this in and of itself is not a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with wanting to make a good name for yourself.
However, I have made the poor assumption that if I spot a mother struggling to wrangle her misbehaving children, I walk into a house that is unkempt, or I see someone in a public outburst of anger then they are less than perfect--and I am somehow better than them.
So here comes the point where I get ferociously bucked off of my high horse.
I decided to take the kids to Story Time Hour at the library today. We were only there for an hour, but we did enough damage to last a week. Here is the run through-Jack runs around the children's center tearing books off of the shelves. I apologize for the mess and finally get him to calm down by reading him a book on my lap. During this time, he wets himself and his diaper leaks through his shorts and onto my pants. (So much for being well-dressed.) I change him into his spare outfit and we meet Sammi at the coloring table. Sammi refuses to go listen to the second story because she wants to finish her coloring page. I agree to this and try to occupy my newly quieted children by teaching Sammi how to write the number four onto her paper. Little did I know that while I was giving Sammi a mini-lesson, Jack was directly underneath me coloring all over the library tables with a black crayon. Sammi, my little tattle-tell, screams at the top of her lungs in the middle of the library, "MOM! JACK IS COLORING ALL OVER THE TABLE!" (This gets the attention of the librarians and I am scrambling for wipes to try to remove the markings, which by the way, didn't work.) About the time I admit defeat, Sammi jumps up from the table and says, "I need to go potty." I ask her to wait and she yells no and runs away out of the room. I am at my breaking point by this time, so I yell accross the library at her to come back. (So much for being the self-controlled, or the perfect mom for that matter.) By the time we get back from the bathroom, I have a two screaming babies that I have to hold in the line to check out our books.
And here is the icing on the cake...right when we are called to the checkout desk, I notice that one of the new moms from my MOPS table had been at the library the entire time. She says to me," Hi, Liz. How's it going?" And I look at this practical stranger all teary-eyed and say, "Oh, I've been better." (So much for a perfect first impression.)
So here's the truth about me, in case you haven't already figured it out. I am not Little Miss Perfect. A few glorious days, purely by the grace of God, I really do seem to have it all together. But the majority of the time, I am a frenzied person, frantically trying to make it through the day.
I am not the perfect wife: Sometimes my husband and I have fights. Sometimes I spend money I shouldn't. Sometimes I burn suppers. Sometimes I make him come home to a house that is not clean or fix appliances that I've broken.
I am not the perfect mom: I am trying to figure it out the best I can and hope I don't screw them up in the process...just like every other mom before me. Sometimes I yell. Sometimes I punish them unnecessarily. And even though I love them with all of my heart, sometimes I disappoint them.
(I hesitate to say that I do not have a perfect life, just because I feel blessed with so many things that I don't deserve.)
What I am is human. And no matter how people think I should act because of my husband's position, or how I think I should appear to please everyone else, I am me. I make mistakes. And I get by just like everyone else.
What I will make an effort to be is a little more real. I don't think I am a fake. I will probably continue to be well-dressed, because I like looking nice. Sometimes, getting ready for the day is the only thing I get to do strictly for me, so I like to do it right. And I will probably try to make sure my kids are dressed cute, simply so I can deal with whatever God-forsaken fashions are popular when they become teenagers. I will keep cleaning my house because I like the idea of everything having a place. It is one less thing to worry about when everything else goes haywire. I want my kids to be on their best behavior so they become respectful members of society. And I want to have a pleasant attitude, because happiness is good for the soul. But I want to do all those things for those reasons, and not because of how I think it will affect other people's impressions of me.
So maybe I should steal my new motto from Popeye the Salior Man:
"I yam what I yam-And that's all that I yam."