The children were helping me bring the groceries into the kitchen this afternoon when I heard a very large clatter. I rounded the corner to see Big E sprawled on the ground, a bag of groceries in each hand, with one of them almost entirely underneath him. He laid there for a moment, a bit shocked before getting up. That’s when I noticed the bag that was underneath him was none other than the bag with the bread and eggs. Two 18-count containers of eggs. I checked on him, and then took the bag from his hands to examine the damage. Sure enough, even though it is hard to tell from the photo, nearly every egg was cracked. I had plans for those eggs this week… hard boiled eggs for lunches, omelettes for breakfast, but alas, they were unsalvageable. So this week, we are down thirty six eggs.
Six months ago, I’m pretty sure this would have had me in tears, frustrated with the unfairness of this ridiculous setback, and frustrated with my child for being careless. But not tonight. Sure, it was annoying, and I’ll have to stop again sometime this week for more eggs, but in the grand scheme of things, it was just eggs. Instead of shaming my child for being reckless, I assured him I wasn’t angry and that he didn’t do anything wrong.
I often fail as a parent… I yell when I promise myself I won’t. I get frustrated when my children aren’t paying attention. I’m not always consistent with my discipline, and often I expect too much from little minds and hearts that aren’t mature enough to understand. I think parenting is a series of starts and finishes, of making mistakes, of learning on the fly. What works for one kid doesn’t for another. Often there isn’t a correct answer. Sometimes you just make it up.
Today I took the two older children to the grocery store with me, an activity I usually do alone. As my children bickered, picked, and played with each other the entire time, I passed cart after cart of other women with small children, and none of them were causing a scene. None seemed to stand out. The voice inside that tells me I’m not enough whispered it’s ugly lies to me once again, as I wondered why those moms had it all together.
I’ve been watching the first season of Victoria (you know my love of British television), which centers around the rise of Queen Victoria in 1837 at the age of 18. Among the many characters we meet, we are introduced to a young woman who works as a dresser for the queen and often does her hair. One day this young woman is visiting her sister, who is lamenting about her own path in life, and obviously a bit jealous of her sister’s good fortune to have acquired a place in the royal household. She looks at her sister and wistfully says, “The queen must like you.”
“Like me? I don’t know about that,” the young lady responds. “But sometimes she notices me when I’m doing her hair, and she see we’re just two girls doing our best.”
This line really stuck with me when I heard it. Here were two young women who came from vastly different worlds, education, and socio-economic backgrounds, but when they looked at each other they recognized that which they had in common. In the challenges of each of their lives, in their struggles, temptations, failures and successes, they were just two girls doing their best, and that was enough.
So I’m choosing to ignore that voice in my head. Because I know that for as many days as I look at those moms and wonder how they have it all together, there are days that someone looks at me and wonders the same thing. But the truth we all know is that none of us have it together, some of us are better at hiding it and some of us have it on full display, but in the end we are just girls doing our best, and that’s ok.