In my mind, I should be a size two. I should have my hair done with no gray or roots showing at all times. My wardrobe should be up to date with the seasons. I should make a six-figure salary while only working part time, since I should also be home for my children and volunteer in their schools daily. My makeup should be applied perfectly every day, no blemishes showing, and certainly no stray hairs should be on my body anywhere.
My house should be clean at all times. It should be open and bright, warm and inviting, with lots of great color combinations and textures to please the eye and the body equally. Keeping it this way should be no issue because I should have a slew of cleaning hacks, tricks, and schedules that make maintaining this an absolute breeze.
I should greet my husband at the door when he gets home along with our clean, calm, charming children. They should, obviously, be dressed like tiny fashion models with no holes or stains on their clothing ever. This should also not be a stress for me since my children should be polite, intelligent, responsible people who would never treat anything or anyone in their lives with disrespect.
While they recount to him the stories of their days of perfection in academia in their gifted programs at their schools, I will head to the kitchen to cook a mouth-watering meal. It will be full of rich flavors, spices, and delicate meats while being locally sourced, organic, and completely healthy – right down to the macro-nutrients
Once the family is fed, the children will bathe and head to bed without any fuss. I will then read one classic novel from cover to cover before heading upstairs to be the most perfect picture of beauty and talent in the bedroom. I will be the kind of wife that everyone wishes they had. Then I’ll read for awhile, say my prayers, and drift off into a restful sleep with a grateful heart so I can start living this life over again.
I hope you’re rolling your eyes by now. Heck, I hope you’re laughing by now because I am. I wish it was a joke but these are literally the expectations I carry in my head and try to hold myself to. No one can meet these expectations, myself included, so I don’t think it comes as a surprise why my reality feels like failure so often.
I am not a size two. Nowhere near it. In fact, add a 10 to that and then a couple more and you’ll get into the ballpark of where I am. I realize that’s average but I’d be lying if I didn’t also tell you I also feel like I’m the size of Gilbert Grape’s mom. I usually let my gray hair get out of control before dragging myself into the salon to get them covered up because I just cannot stand the sight of them right now. My hair does look perfectly done most days since my go to style is “messy bun”. Pro tip: you can’t really go wrong when the goal is to look like a hot mess.
I don’t make six-figures, I work 50 hours a week, and scramble to help at my kids’ schools on lunch hours or evenings which is stressful in its own right. I manage mascara roughly two days a week and full make up only for weddings or funerals. I have more blemishes now than I did at sixteen and I’m really kind of bummed that winter is ending so I’ll need to start busting out shorts again soon. I’m not ready for that level of personal maintenance.
The house looks anywhere from “decent but people obviously live here” to “these people are about to lose this round of Jumanji to the crazy monkeys”. I won’t even comment on which option the house looks like more often. I have no cleaning hacks. Does “moving” count as a hack? Not a real practical one. I ruin dry clean only clothes by washing them since I never read tags.
My kids take showers regularly, brush their teeth and hair, and are good at basic grooming. Their clothes fit and are clean. Do they always match? Nope. They dress themselves. Some days they look homeless or like real artists. I’ve been commended for allowing them to “express their individuality” when in reality, I’m just glad they put on pants and didn’t fight with me about it. They both do great in their regular classes with their regular friends and I am completely ok with that.
My husband cooks dinner, not me. I don’t have time. Our food is all locally sourced. We drive to the Aldi and local grocery store that is roughly 4 miles from the house to get it all. Local enough for me. Nothing is organic. Most of it is on sale, plenty is preprocessed, and if we can cook it in under 20 minutes using only one pot that makes it even better.
I listen to Audiobooks, don’t think I’ve read a classic since high school, and consider an evening to be successful if I get to watch both The Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy uninterrupted. The bedroom is where oversized shirts and my fleece pants are waiting for me. I love my husband, I do my best, but I don’t think I’m the stuff dreams are made of. Unless you’re into snoring and drooling. I’m an amazing sleeper…once I toss and turn for an hour then use the bathroom three times and finally pass out. I wake up the next morning tired, with a rough idea of what I need to get done, and then do my best to adjust as countless unexpected things are thrown at me.
See? I’m not living up to any expectations that I have in my head. So, I’m giving up on them. I realize that the things I feel I should be doing are all just put there by me. No one has ever asked me to be or do everything for everyone all the time. I just seem to think that’s my job. I also think that I am not the only woman in this boat. While everyone may not be going to my extremes (I really hope no one else is) we all have these ideas of what we should or could be doing that are seriously not fair. Of course I can’t live up to them and it’s no wonder I feel like a failure since I’m using that as my measuring stick.
I’m over it though. Totally. I see these ideas for what they are – b.s. competitive crap. I’m not doing it. Life isn’t a competition, I’m not trying to out-do anyone else, and I am certainly not better than anyone else. I just want to be the best me I can, the happiest me I can, and live a life I enjoy. So, that’s what I’m starting to do. Finding a way to get back to the real me, the things I like, and how to be happy without burning out!
I’m no expert. I have no secret plans or insider info on how to magically make everyone’s life better (heck, I’m not even there yet in my own life!) but I am a real mom who thinks she’s not alone in these feelings. I am not perfect but I am honest, real, raw, and learning to love my flaws. I want to share this journey with you here. The ups and the downs for me, so maybe you can find something that help you too. Or suggest something I can try! I certainly can’t do this on my own.
If you’re messy, imperfect, tired, and flawed – this is the place for you.