"You're totally normal, you know," she said as she watched me exhale in frustration at our lunch after an entire Chick-Fil-A grilled chicken breast went flying to the floor of the mall eatery. Meanwhile, my girl squealed in delight over playing with her food mat instead of actually eating food. The chicken on the floor was the same I'd had to argue over with a three Chick-Fil-A employees before I convinced them to substitute it in a kids meal, since my little one can't eat wheat. I'd then waited 15 minutes to get this meal, all because I forgotten the baby's lunch.
She said it with all the new-mama wisdom her heart had to offer, with her precious little one, six months older than Sweet Pea, perched in the high chair next to her. "I just wish someone had told me that the first year."
I laughed, somewhat grimly, as I tried to salvage any bits of chicken I could. ("Hmm...this piece really only landed on the high chair...") I tried again to offer some chicken, then gave up when it looked like my child seemed to think it was a piece of clay to be smashed into artwork instead of placed in her little mouth.
I had to think it all over for a little while. She's right, my sweet friend. We are. We're....normal. All of the navigating the ins-and-outs of learning how to be a mama to a baby is normal. It's normal that a 14-month-old baby would not really understand the concept of "lunch with the girls," and choose to spend her time throwing food instead of eating it. It's normal for her to explore her food with her hands. It's normal for me to be frustrated that, in spite of my best efforts, my child sometimes flat out refuses to eat what I give her. It's normal for her to scream at the top of her lungs every now and then just to see what it sounds like. It's normal for me to be tired. It's normal for us all to be so perfectly imperfect.
I struggle a lot with wanting to be super woman. I want my home to be immaculate. I want to make delicious food for my family. I want to keep growing and running a photography business. I want to write meaningful words that inspire and encourage others. I want to have a farm somewhere, somehow, someday. I want to be involved in ministry to teen mothers. I want my daughter to never watch tv. (Hahaha!) I want to exercise daily. I want to bake. I want a huge garden and to learn how to can. I want to shop for good deals. I want to learn how to sew and make adorable outfits for my daughter. I want more babies. I want to ride horses. I want to travel. I want to hang out with friends. I want to build into my community. I want to be involved in youth group and with the other young families at my church. I want to teach. I want to dig deep roots and laugh till it hurts with people I love and to stretch myself.
I want to sleep. Seriously. Even typing all that out makes me tired, and I was kind of just getting started.
Lately it seems like everywhere I turn the same themes keep coming up. "What are you passionate about?" and "You have to make priorities," seem to question me at every turn. I love, love, love so many things. Good things. Right things. I want to do them all and I want to do them well.
I think our culture, currently heavily influenced by the blog world and other social media, has a lot of us convinced that everyone else is a super woman and we just don't measure up to the standards. Today was rough. Sweet Pea and I basically laid around in our jammies, nursing a cold and my typical aches and pains, until after 2 pm. I decided I was ok with that. At least, I was ok with that; that is, until I clicked that "Reader" button on my Gmail during nap time. I was suddenly overwhelmed with women (whose blogs I love and adore and from whom I have learned so much) who seem to be other-wordly in their perfection and ability to do lots of things well. Guilt at my past two lazy days flowed over me like river.
That is, until I told my friend all of this. And until she reminded me, yet again, that I'm normal.
I am not super woman. Since becoming a stay-at-home-mom, I often feel like I have something to prove, like I have to do all of this well and look good trying because that will somehow prove to the world that I've got it all together. The fact is, I can't do it all or have it all or be it all. I didn't before I chose to stay home and don't now, either. I get tired and cranky and impatient. I can get really mean to my husband. Sometimes the cloth diapers that I am supposedly such a proponent of sit hidden in a container in my laundry room for days, after which I have to wash them multiple times to make sure they are really clean.
And that's all ok, because I'm normal. I'm just a normal, regular, same-as-since-the-dawn-of-time mama who loves her family and lots of other people and is figuring it all out as she goes along. I'm learning how to get better at my job every day. I'm a work in progress, just like everyone else, and I'm working on being ok with that.
So I'm working, once again, on prioritizing. I'm learning how to be gentle with myself. I'm learning to be ok with just being, rather than always doing. I worked hard, hard, hard at this in the months after Sweet Pea was born, and I was proud of it. However, even though I think I've gotten way better at the act of just being, and at saying no sometimes to doing, I was really never ok with it emotionally. I would be joyfully cuddling my newborn baby and yet, deep down, feeling guilty and anxious that the kitchen was messy or that I still hadn't returned that phone call. The voice in my head would go something like, "How lazy of me that I am laying on this couch, cuddling this baby and enjoying every second of it, when everyone else in the world is out there really working? I don't deserve this kind of joy." That has continued to be a problem for me, one that I need to kick in the pants because it's ridiculous. Meanwhile, the "doing" list has been getting longer and longer, and I know I need to step back and figure out how to rebalance once again. I'm blessed that my choices are among good, better and best.
And you know what? Every now and then, "best" might be spending an entire morning with your daughter watching Pocoyo on Netflix. Even better than best- it's normal.