Pink cheeks stared at me across our notched and dented kitchen table. Okay. I confess. The cheeks were fire-engine red and not the blush and bashful described by Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias.
My Court Jester was sunburned.
He gets his pale skin from his momma. I have nightmares of a 16 year old Caleb headed to the beach with his pals for the day while I’m stuck in the ER with him that evening with his sunburned and blistered back.
Because what teenage boy puts on sunscreen if his momma’s not there to tell him to?
But then, he could be almost four with sunburned cheeks because his momma didn’t do her job. So there’s that. But to give myself some credit, it was only 63 degrees at the theme park yesterday. And maybe there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, but our day did begin with fleece jackets.
It’s winter in the rest of the country, right?
I was on the phone with my momma as I sat at the kitchen table staring at the pink, I mean red, cheeks. I heard myself telling her about how the Court Jester had also thrown-up on the way home from our all-day excursion. Don’t worry. I caught it all in a magically procured plastic baggie—gross, I know.
You know what she said? Without a shred of condemnation, my retired-nurse momma said, “Well, he was probably dehydrated.”
I began to think back on the day and how I may or may not have monitored his water intake. If I’m honest, we’d be lucky if he drank more than a single grape juice pouch. (In my defense, it was organic, which doubles its nutritional value. Doesn’t it?)
My momma was right. No wonder I had a miserable kid last night…
Those red cheeks.
As I began to apply massive amounts of aloe to his face, I saw my chances for Mom of the Year fly out of my finger-printy-dog-slobbery-dirty sliding glass door. My chances were never really that strong in the first place. If I’m honest, I think I lost the trophy around January 5th. But who’s counting?
As I went through the morning with the sunburned boy and his sister, I had many mom fails, like the fact I never actually “played” with them. Even though I spent an hour with them doing Easter crafts, Caleb said I was only “helping” him and not really “playing.”
How did I get a mom success paired so easily with a mom fail? Isn’t that irony? Or something? Maybe that’s an award all on its own?
It hit me. Mom of the Year is an illusion. It is an illusion because perfection is unattainable. We all know this, but few of us ever really internalize it.
Just when I think I’m okay without being Pinterest Perfect, I catch a glimpse of some momma who seems to do it better than me. And there’s the eternal rub of social media. We splash our best two-minute momma moments out there for the world to see, while the rest of our days stay hidden.
Our expectations of the mothers we should be are based on a few snapshots of those we respect. Or even those we don’t. But what if we took a few moments to also bare our imperfections? Those moments of, “Yep. That’s my kid who walked on a broken foot for five days before we took her to the doctor.” True story…
Maybe we’d be a little more forgiving of ourselves if we were reminded we’re not alone.
Because here’s what I think—We’re each Mom of the Year for our own children. There’s not a better momma out there for my Caleb or my Ella than me. Failures and all.
How do I know?
Because God chose them for me.
Whether our children are adopted or ours through birth, they’ve been designed by the Creator to be ours. We are enough for them.
And let me share another tidbit. If I had played with Caleb this morning instead of folding four loads of clothes (because sometimes things just have to get done) I would not have witnessed the unfolding of this beautiful conversation:
Caleb: “Ella, will you play with me?”
Ella: “Of course I will. What do you want to play?”
Be still this momma-heart.
At the end of the day, my kids love me. I love them. They may need therapy as adults, but then again, who doesn’t, really?
And that’s Mom of the Year enough for me.