It was one of those days when everything was going wrong. I was very proud of the fact that I had remembered to flip over the grilled cheese sandwiches before they burned. I decided to take a look at Facebook while I was eating my sandwich. The very first thing I saw was a picture of the fabulous lunch that my friend had prepared for her family. A few minutes ago, I was proud of my grilled cheese sandwiches. Now, all of a sudden I felt like a failure as I stared at the half-eaten sandwich on my plate.
I began to think about the day that my sisters were in shock when I told them that our girls had never eaten a chicken patty. I cooked from scratch and we rarely ate pop-in-the-oven food. Everything changed in 2005. That was the year that our two upside down turtles were born. Life was crazy busy with two newborn babies and two older girls to take care of. We became very familiar with chicken patties, corn dogs, fish sticks, and frozen pizza. I felt like a failure because I believed that good moms cooked from scratch.
I used to take great pride in our home being clean and organized. I knew exactly where everything was and we lived in a dust free environment. I never left dirty dishes in the sink when I went to bed. I often wonder what happened to that organized woman. She’s a distant memory. Now I struggle to find something that was in my hand only a moment ago. I throw away a $25 rebate check because I’m distracted by our crazy life. I almost always go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink. I have often felt like a failure because I have believed that good moms have clean houses.
Our two older girls have always been very well-behaved. Our two little firecrackers were born and good behavior wasn’t something that they were interested in learning. My husband and I suddenly realized that this parenting thing was a lot more complicated than we could have ever imagined. We began to learn about meltdowns. Our girls started having them in public and we were the center of attention. I don’t like being the center of attention. The day came when someone actually told me that I used to look like a good mom. I felt like a complete failure because I believed that good moms had children who never misbehaved.
Everywhere that I looked I would see a mom who had it all together. She was thinner than I was. Her children never misbehaved. Her kids got straight A’s. Her house was always clean. She was a great cook. I wanted to be the mom who had it all together. My life would be so much better if I could just be like her.
One day I was reading in my Bible about David and Goliath. David was getting ready to go kill a giant. Saul dressed David in his own armor and helmet. Saul didn’t think that David could kill a giant unless he looked like a soldier. Once David had Saul’s armor on, there was a problem. His new outfit didn’t fit. I can picture him stumbling around because his helmet was covering his eyes. His armor was probably so heavy that he could hardly walk. David decided to take the outfit off because it didn’t fit him. He went into battle with only a sling and five stones and he killed the giant even though he didn’t look anything like a soldier. His confidence was not in what he looked like on the outside. His confidence came from knowing that he served the God of the impossible. With God on his side, he could kill a giant.
In the VeggieTales episode Dave and the Giant Pickle, Saul sings David a song that ends with “You’re bound to do much better if you try to look like me”. David puts the armor on and he falls over sideways. Then David says “You know….I think maybe I should just be plain old me.”
I had one of those “aha” moments. I had convinced myself that my life would be better if I could only look like her and be like her. Every time I compared myself to her, it was like I was putting on a coat of armor that was weighing me down. I was putting on a helmet that was too big. I would stand in front of the mirror and I couldn’t see myself anymore. I needed to take the armor and helmet off and just be plain old me. God didn’t create me and then hope that I would one day become someone else. He wants me to be plain old me.
Plain old me still cooks from scratch as much as possible when I do the cooking. We sometimes eat pop-in-the-oven food and I no longer feel guilty about it. I have a confession to make. My husband took over the cooking duties a few months ago. I didn’t want him to do the cooking because I believed that moms are supposed to do the cooking. I told him he wasn’t going to cook….he told me he was….I told him he wasn’t….he told me he was. He won. He helped me take off the good-moms-do-the-cooking helmet that was keeping me from seeing clearly. The truth is that he’s a much better cook than I am. The girls are happier when Daddy cooks. I don’t feel as stressed when I don’t have to worry about supper and I can devote more time to homeschooling, household chores, and this blog.
Plain old me still cleans our house, but I’m not the perfectionist that I used to be. We no longer live in a dust free environment and you will find dirty dishes in the sink every morning. I do the best I can. I’ve learned to accept the fact that I don’t have as much time to clean as I used to. When I had a perfectly clean house we didn’t have any kids. I now have 4 girls that require a lot of time and I’m really tired. I decided to take off the I-need-to-have-a-perfectly-clean-house armor. It’s way too heavy.
Plain old me has two girls with special needs. They have some behavior problems that seem to manifest frequently when we are in public. That doesn’t make me a bad mom. I’m a plain-old-good-mom who has a couple of special girls who can’t always control their behavior. I’m tired of wearing the I’m-a-bad-mom-because-my-girls-don’t-always-behave outfit. The outfit is itchy and its way too small and it drives me crazy. I don’t want to wear it any more.
Don’t you think that it’s time for all of us to say maybe I should just be plain old me? Comparisons can make us crazy. Comparisons make us feel like we are less than we are. Can I let you in on a little secret? Good moms serve their family frozen pizza. My friend has never posted a frozen pizza picture on Facebook, but her family eats frozen pizza. Good moms have messy houses. I dropped by a stay-at-home mom’s house once without calling first. Her house was a mess. She was embarrassed because she believed the lie that my house was spotless. I left her house with a smile on my face because her house looked exactly like my house.
My friend still posts pictures of her fabulous looking meals on Facebook. Do you know what I do now? I usually laugh. She seems to post her fabulous meals on the nights that we have frozen pizza. And I’m ok with that. It just feels good to be plain old me.