I drove my kids to school in my pajamas yesterday, with peanut butter smeared all over my pants.
I was wolfing down my peanut butter bagel when I realized my husband was about to walk out the door for work. I grabbed the plastic specimen container and begged him to collect the poop sample I was supposed to take to the vet. Meeting him right at the exit to the garage door, I thrust the plastic bottle in front of him with a peanut butter splattered cheesy grin.
He rolled his eyes and headed out to the side yard. The peanut butter began to drip down my fingers and the palms of my hands. I tried licking it off but to no avail, It was either going to spill all over the floor or… NOT the floors! Normally I would have just tossed the remaining bagel to the dog, but you’ve probably guessed by now that he’s having intestinal issues. So the pants.
“Get IN the car!” I hollered, not wanting to get another email from the school about tardies. “Calm down, mom, take a chill pill, ” bellowed back my youngest teen. I hopped in the car, wiped the remaining peanut butter off of my steering wheel onto my other pant leg and made it to school in time.
When I got home I threw my hair in a pony tail and put on my yoga pants and “These are the days” T-shirt. Big step up from the pajamas, but at least I didn’t smell like Jif. I threw some moisturizer on my face and brushed my teeth groaning over my eyelashes. With life a little hectic lately, a friend suggested getting eyelash extensions so you don’t have to “wear makeup”. One less thing to worry about in the morning? DONE! And they looked great. Until they all fell out- of my left eye. With seven or so in my right eye, I looked like some sort of mysterious eye socket palsy had come over me, making my left eye look droopy.
I plopped down on the couch and opened up Instagram. I saw so many photos of people whose life looked like mine, except not like mine. They sat a table eating breakfast. They looked adorable in their yoga pants and they had two matching eyes with the same amount of eyelashes surrounding them. Their kids snuggled in their laps with grins and giggles. (The closest I’ve had lately to my kids being in my lap was when my son tossed his smelly cast from his broken finger at me after the doctor cut it off on Monday.) For goodness’ sake, show me a mom with peanut butter on her pants! And that’s when it happened…
The grief and the guilt came flooding in. Where did those little kids go? What happened to those cobalt blue yoga pants I used to sport with confidence? I wished all the wrinkles would disappear as easily as my eyelashes had. Where has the time gone?They’re teenagers now! So little time left! What will I do with myself when I’m the only one trying to sit down at a breakfast table in the morning? (Okay, truthfully, I used to fantasize about sitting all alone with my coffee at the breakfast table, but now the struggle is real!)
Have I failed them? Have I done a good enough job? What have I missed?
Getting A Handle on Hope
So I started reading a book- it’s always a book, isn’t it? It’s called Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind written by Brenda L Yoder. She put words to all of the crazy thoughts and feelings I’ve had during this wild stage of motherhood. She also tenderly reminded me my feelings are normal and how to respond to them in a healthy way- for myself and my kids.
I’m so close to the finish line- and that terrifies me. Not because I want my kids to live me forever (okay, maybe there are those fleeting moments when I actually do!) but because I am afraid they’ll get out there and we’ll both realize I failed them. And let’s be honest, dealing with my own aging on top of it is a nasty combination, leaving me wanting to crumple in a corner and eat peanut butter ice cream.
A Gentle Reminder
I remembered rocking Eliana to sleep the first night we brought her home from the hospital. I cried out to God to equip me to do everything right as a mom. I held the most valuable gift I could imagine being given and I didn’t want to mess up. I remember God whispering to me in the quietness of my heart, “If you are a perfect mom, why would she ever need her Heavenly Father? It’s through your mistakes that she will learn about grace- offering grace to others, to herself, and most importantly, receiving the grace I offer through my Son. You won’t do this perfectly, you’re not supposed to”.
I don’t know if you feel like an IG worthy mom or not, but if you have tweens and teens, go pick up a copy of Brenda’s book. Like right now. Stop reading this blog and order it. Be reminded of God’s grace in your guilt and grief. This book has been a game changer for me.
Erica Wiggenhorn is an author and Bible teacher who is passionate about God’s Word and its ability to transform our lives. She has written several Bible Studies and teaching videos released through Moody Publishers. Erica speaks regularly at women’s retreats and conferences and is eager to share God’s Word with anyone who will listen. To connect with Erica and see some of her popular speaking topics visit https://ericawiggenhorn.com/speaking/