Earlier this week I chuckled when I read a status update of a friend on Facebook. She shared that she had just returned home from taking her daughter to preschool in her p.j.’s for P.J. day. When she arrived, however, she learned that P.J. day was not that day, but the following day.
I imagined the scene in my head: I imagined a cute 4-year old girl bubbling over with excitement as she raced into her school to show off her favorite p.j.’s. I imagined the proud Mama walking in behind her, mirroring her daughters excitement, as she memorized this as one of her little girls “special” days. Then I saw Mama looking around at the other children in jeans and t-shirts and dresses and skirts as she realizes her mistake. This is where I began to chuckle because I know this is something I would do. . . I could do. . . I probably will do.
Fast forward one day.
This is the scene: Me, excited to pick up my little girl and hear about her day. As soon as I lay eyes on her I see that something is wrong. She just stares. What’s wrong?, I want to know. Chanelle, obviously swallowing back tears, Mommy, it was P.J. day today and you forgot to let me wear my P.J.’s and take an animal to school.
(if you have kids, you know that p.j. day is a very special day and one that is anticipated with great excitement.)
My heart sinks as I think back to the evening before when Chanelle told me that she was supposed to wear p.j.’s to school. I was quick to let her know that she was mistaken, p.j. day isn’t until the spring. She was persistent, though, and went to Chad. Daddy, tomorrow is p.j. day at school, right? Again, I don’t think so baby girl.
Later that same day Charlie returns home from school and informs me that i neglected to pack his lunch. Not only that, but I also sent him to school without his tennis shoes on gym day. . . again.
There would be no gold stars for me that day.
I felt defeated as I thought about all the days slip ups. What is wrong with me? I tried to think back to when I was young. Did my Mom make these kinds of mistakes? Am I the only one who does these sorts of things? Am I messing up my kids by my absent-mindedness? I silently berated myself as I apologized over and over to my kiddos. I thought about their teachers and wondered if they think I’m an idiot and how perhaps I am not adequately equipped to care for these little lives.
And then I remembered the Facebook status from the previous day and I realized. . . I’m not alone. I am just one of many Mom’s out here doing her best to raise well-adjusted, strong, and confident kids while tallying up countless moments when we fall just a little big short.
As the days, weeks, and months go by I am learning that falling a little bit short is okay. Truly, perfection is not attainable, though there was a time when I had the illusion that it was. Through the years I am learning to accept life for what it is and to laugh at it. Laugh at the crazy silly thing I do. . . and the crazy, silly things they do.
Part of that understanding has come from writing here, in this space. The acceptance of a community that relates and commiserates with our story has been refreshing and normalizing, to say the least. A community that says oh, you burn dinner, too? Or, hey, I get so overwhelmed sometimes I consider running away as a viable option. That feels good.
The other part of this learning journey has come in the form of three little lives that continually teach me what life is all about. Like when Chanelle answered my p.j. day apology with an it’s okay, Mommy, I think we’re going to have another p.j. day sometime. Or Charlie who is about as chill as possible by my continued forgetfulness even though, the baby is out of your belly.
I really don’t know if my Mom had moments like these. These “falling short” moments that feel so demoralizing at the time. I wonder if I don’t remember because really, these moments are just a blip on a radar screen that is otherwise filled with beautiful, precious, fun, and tender times that make up what life is really all about.
I believe these little ones have a much better handle on what is and is not important in life and when it comes down to it, the best thing I can do is take my cues from them.