Written and Edited by Tara Sanders
Her squishy little face and those big blue eyes were looking right at me.
“Mommy, are you awake?”
“No,” I said with a wink.
As she crawled into bed with me for a quick morning snuggle I could hear her baby brother screaming from the next room.
Was it already time to get up?!
Since her little brother was born, I haven’t made it to bed before midnight or slept longer than 7am. It takes what feels like forever to unwind, but then the morning comes so quickly. I keep telling myself that I’ll go to bed earlier, but I have yet to execute on that plan.
Before having kids, I had dreams of being this super mom like the ones I see on Instagram. Their kids are decked out in the latest outfits from Mini Boden and the mom looks so cute. Her hair is done and she has full make-up on.
It’s so dreamy to imagine a life like that, but who are these people? I’m lucky if I get to shower, and my kids are probably wearing what they wore the day before (if it’s still clean). Make-up? Perhaps a smithering of mascara to look less scary, but that’s usually all I have time for.
The homes of these illustrious Insta-moms are decorated with the latest thing from West Elm, while most days my house looks like a scene from the movie Twister and my kids are running around me like whirling dervishes as I try to vacuum for the umpteenth time.
I dream about having a clean house with all the laundry done, but I’ve been told that won’t happen until they go to school. I’ve also been told that I should drink in these days of having Little’s before they grow up and start hating everything I say. But sometimes I just wish they could feed themselves breakfast and change their own diapers.
And that’s not the tipping point. You know it’s really bad when you hide in the bathroom to check social media. The bathroom is honestly the only place I can be totally alone at any given time, and even then there’s always a risk that someone will come and find you.
But every time I think those little dervishes are going to break me, something happens to restore my faith in motherhood. Sometimes its a good behavior or putting into practice something that I taught them. Sometimes it’s a moment of sheer joy or contentment when I feel like I’m their biggest hero.
On the days when no one gets a bath and we eat grocery store pizza for dinner, I think to myself, “Tomorrow I’ll do better!”
I’ll do better the next day. I’ll be on top of things. Everyone will have a bubble bath, we’ll eat roast chicken, and peace will reign in the Sanders house once again.
One of the most important lessons I learned about parenting was in college and the advice was from one of my guy friends. It was an unlikely source of deep parental wisdom, yet it became a moment that I go back to again and again when I feel like a total failure as a mom.
After a disappointing summer as a camp counselor, I met my friend at a local coffee shop to catch up. I was in the middle of venting about my horrible summer and what a terrible camp counselor I was, when he chimed in with a piece a wisdom far beyond both of our years and something that has always stuck with me.
It went something like this:
Jeremiah: Tara, did you feed those kids lunch everyday?
Jeremiah: Tara, did you keep those kids safe everyday?
Jeremiah: Did you love those kids well?
Jeremiah: Well then, you did your job by taking care of those kids the best you could. If you don’t see the fruit of that it doesn’t mean that you didn’t do a good job.
Wherever you are Jeremiah, thank you for those words. I’m holding on to them when I feel like the worst mom ever. I’m also trying to remember that I’m not the source of their ultimate joy and satisfaction in life. I’m learning day by day to surrender that to the Lord.
So for now, I’ll kiss those sweet faces, feed them nutritious food, change all the diapers, read them lots of stories and not wish away today for what may or may not be a better tomorrow.