We all have those perfect Facebook friends. You know the ones, Pinterest Mom, Super-Duper-Birthday Mom, My-House-Always-Looks-Like-This Mom, My-Kids-Only-Eat-Kale Mom… She’s hard to compete with. I’ve been trying to compete with her for the last 6 years that I’ve been a SAHM. I finally got tired. I got tired of feeling inadequate. Tired of feeling like I was somehow failing my children if they didn’t have a perfectly planned themed birthday party. Really? Do you remember the birthday parties from your toddler years? While sifting through some old pictures at my mother’s house I found this one picture of me, on my 2nd birthday. It was nothing fancy. My mother made me a homemade (not an ornate, custom made) cake. It was white, with some of those little candy letters that spell out “Happy Birthday” from the Winn-Dixie. It was on a piece of cardboard wrapped in wrinkled aluminum foil with a #2 candle on top. There were no crazy decorations, no coordinating party favors, no embroidered shirts announcing proudly that I had made it to the ripe old age of 2. It was my family, some neighborhood friends and cake. We played outside, we ate birthday cake and I opened a couple small gifts. Pintrest and Facebook didn’t exist back then. I’m sure my mother was glad they didn’t. She didn’t have any perfect moms to compare herself to on social media. No Facebook friends posting pictures of their 3 tiered, $200 cakes. It was a simple thing to have a birthday party for a child. Ladies, I give you the Pre-Pinterest 2nd Birthday Party… I’m sure no one would rush to post this beauty to social media!
Today, in order to throw a 2nd birthday party you need to find the perfect venue, have cake tastings with the best bakeries, have custom printed water bottle wrappers. You need to make sure that you have allergy-free, dye-free, corn syrup-free, all natural, organic snacks for 20 – 30 of your child’s closest friends. It takes months to plan the perfect Pinterest party. Seriously, should your child’s birthday party have the same budget as your wedding? I’m guilty too. Take a peak at our middle son’s second birthday party… That birthday cake cost us nearly $200. It was a Curious George Finger Painting theme party so the cake was hand painted fondant (made to look like one of the scenes in the classic books.) I bought each and every kid a George coloring book, paints, crayons and countless other favors in custom, hand-sewn goody bags. We covered the kids tables with butchers paper so that they could finger paint.
We I ordered a custom printed, personalized “I am 2” Curious George Birthday shirt… We played the CD soundtrack from the movie for all the kiddos to dance to… Looking back I realize how absurd this was.
Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there. I hosted elaborate parties for both our boys for years to come. It stopped after Olivia’s first birthday (Snow Princess Theme… sigh…) It finally hit me how much money we were wasting just to have great pictures to post on social media.
I was trying to create a facade. I wanted my 800 Facebook friends to think I was a great mom. I needed their approval for some reason. Actually, I’ve always been one of those women who needs EVERYBODY’S approval. It took me a lot of years to realize that there is only one person I need the approval of and that is Jesus Christ. I spent years constantly apologizing for not being good enough. I always felt inferior to people around me so I would explain myself constantly. When I really didn’t need to explain anything at all. When someone didn’t like me I needed to know why. I worked hard to make them like me, even if it meant not being true to myself. I was desperate to be everything to everyone. It was exhausting.
The past couple of years God started working in this area of my life. First, He called me to homeschool my kiddos. If you read my post Get Out of the Boat you know that I had to go against the approval of my father for this one. That was a BIG step for me. Then He gave me a friend who would speak truth into my life. I used to apologize to her constantly for being myself until she told me to knock it off. She told me that she knows my heart, that I didn’t need to apologize for being me. She helped me realize that I was enough, just as my God had made me. I didn’t need to be perfect. I could be flawed and be a great mom. Perfectly imperfect became my personal motto.
When God is working you through something He will continually bring it to the forefront of your mind. A few weeks ago, my pastor spoke about this very subject in a sermon entitled “Living a Christ Centered Life in a Self Centered World.” That is a lofty goal in today’s society. The verses we studied were in 2 Corinthians where Paul is addressing the Corinthians and warning them about hiding their hearts from each other.
15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
That freedom is the freedom to be imperfect. It’s the freedom to not get it right every single time. God sent us grace, not just for our sins but for our hearts. We have to give grace to ourselves and those around us. We have to stop judging each other based on our ability to be perfect or lack thereof. Our pastor stressed that people connect through our weaknesses. How can you connect with people going through the same struggles you are if you are constantly hiding your struggles? I knew God was speaking to me when he said these words
“Stop seeking the approval of man when you should be seeking the approval of God!”
That was a reminder that God’s not finished with me. I haven’t completely let go of my need for perfectionism. I sometimes stumble and long for the approval of someone other than God. I remind myself often that as long as I am following after God’s heart His approval is the only one that matters.
Have you ever stumbled across an old high school friend in the People You May Know section on Facebook? I have, and if I see a profile picture with perfectly groomed children in matching outfits sitting in a spotless living room eating homemade cookies shaped like Elsa, or Elmo or whatever character is hot right now I generally don’t even bother looking. Because I know it’s going to make me feel like I’m not doing enough. I have piles of laundry in various stages, some waiting to be washed, some to be folded and a few in between. I haven’t mopped the floors in about 3 weeks because there never seems to be time and as soon as I do I know my brood will cover it in cheerios and Play-doh. My kids eat Oreos, or Chips A-hoy or whatever is on BOGO at Publix. I can’t talk the little boogers into eating a vegetable, the closest thing I can get to one is marinara sauce so we count that as a win. We sometimes go a full week without bothering to make a bed, you’re just going to get right back in it in a few hours anyway right?
We do school 4 days a week and we take Friday off. That’s because if I don’t have at least one day where I don’t have to beg someone to write their spelling words or complete their math assignment I’ll go bananas! My days don’t run smoothly every day. I have one child who is such a perfectionist that if he misses one problem on his math assignment he might as well throw in the towel and quit school. The other is just a tad too ADD to handle school for more than 45 minutes at a time… anything longer than that without a break and I lose him completely. For days. And then there’s our bug, the toddler that terrorizes our school room. It’s constant chaos. We have a great room, but the papers are piling up, needing to be graded. Pencils and broken crayons hide in the corners, under their desks. It’s our classroom, this is our home and our school. It’s bound to get messy. If I get caught up in the details and wanting the place to be perfect and the kids to bet perfect I lose sight of what’s important. They are here with me, together. They are learning their own way. They are growing and we are closer for it. This perfectly imperfect mess is exactly what God wants me to have. He’s using it to help me grow. I am grateful.
Having God working in this area of my life has made me realize that there are a lot of women out there just like me. Women who hide their messes and imperfections. Women who create an alter ego so to speak on Facebook so that they win the approval of the social media world. So I’m trying my best to do something about it. I am sharing my heart with you. I’m sharing my messes, flaws and imperfections in the hopes that we can connect and that I can help God make a difference in your life too. We don’t need to be perfect. Say it with me…
“I can be perfectly imperfect and still be enough!”
So I promise you won’t see fake perfection in me. If you stay with me and keep reading you will see failures and grace, messes and forgiveness. I hope you’ll share yours with me too!