I have this pan.
I hate it really. It’s worn and beat up. The surface that was supposed to not show scratches shows ridges etched within. It’s really quite ugly, my friends. It doesn’t look perfect. And tonight, I wondered how many times I had washed that very pan.
Day in and day out. Washing. Soap and scrubbing and trying to make clean and putting away and taking out and repeating over and over.
I wonder that about motherhood too.
How many loads of laundry? How long until I discard the missing socks only to find it tucked behind the dresser days later? How many stains have I scrubbed out?
How many fights have I dismantled? How much patience? How many nights have I stayed awake but desperately wanted sleep?
How many times have I tried? How many times have I yelled when I wish I had whispered? How many times have I gotten frustrated over ridiculous things that feel so giant in the moment?
How many times have I failed?
It’s so many, my friends. I really wish I could be one of those writers who tells you, “just get the good scrubber and everything will stay clean and your life will be perfect.” Well, if my pan is an indicator, then that’s never going to happen. Because no matter how much I try I still stumble.
I don’t know why it’s so hard for us to just admit our real.
Like why do we say, “I’m so sorry for the mess…” when others come in our homes? Like there is no other home that has Legos growing from the carpet or Capri Sun pouches left on the couch? You know, I try really hard to keep things tidy and good, but I have kids.
I think we apologize because we fear being judged, but more than that, we fall prey to the lie of “you are not a good mom” if things aren’t perfect. Well, listen here sweet sister, you are a good mom in your imperfect life. If everything was perfect I’d actually start to wonder what was going on behind the surface.
I’m going to be honest. I think for most of my twenty-two years (yeah, do that math) of being a mom I struggled to measure up to a ridiculous measuring stick of mom success. And all that did was rob me of moments with my family in the day. Everything was never enough, I was never enough and as a result I often went to bed defeated. But then, one day, I decided enough with the good mom lie and decided to actually be the good mom.
And that meant that I gave myself grace to stumble. To serve pizza for dinner. To try again. To not know what to do. To freak out over messes in rooms that I just cleaned up. To realize that scratches and etchings aren’t a fault, but rather are part of the greater good, the story. And, oh yes, to take care of my heart.
Oh my word that last one.
There is a lie out there that says, “take care of yourself when the kids are grown.” Well, my friends, YOU MUST TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEART. That is actually what a good mom does. I know you are busy. I know you have little kids or middle kids or high school kids or college kids or grown kids. I know. I get it. I’m not writing to you as a writer whose oldest is nine. I am writing to you with the perspective of having a 22 year old daughter. And you know what I know?
A good mom takes care of herself.
The idea that you don’t matter in the midst is a lie. And my friend, my sweet sister, again, the only one that can decide to say, “today I am going to find happiness again” is you. Not your spouse, your partner, anyone. You.
Don’t be overwhelmed. This is my heart’s passion. I see you, I hear you. You are not alone. You are not the only one who is needing that breath of freedom from breaking the good mom lie. But we together can do it. We can be amazing moms, great moms, moms that show up, moms that love, and moms that teach their children that it is important to take care of one’s heart.
I’m so proud of you. Yes, you. I might not ever meet you face to face, but I can tell you this – I am proud of all the days and nights and weeks and months that you have shown up.
And that’s a good mom. Oh yes, that pan? It’s a good pan. Not perfect, not beautiful, but it gets the job done. Day after day after day. Sometimes it gets too hot, sometimes it gets stuck, there are scratches from wear, but it provides. Think about that.
And think about motherhood.