I sat at the table with a baby in my lap, and she cooed happily while chewing on a toy. My vibrant, blond-haired, angel daughters sat around us, and I spoke to them in soft, caring tones while we ate a nutritious, homemade breakfast together. It was practically perfect in every way, and a stray thought occurred to me at that moment. It was so perfect it was almost like we were aware of a hidden camera in our midst, and I suppose if my life was a reality television show we would probably act more like this. Soft-spoken mommy, smiling, well-mannered girls. It honestly wasn’t the norm, though, and that thought made me wince.
I wanted it. I wanted more moments like the morning at the table Nick-at-Nite sitcoms strove for, but just the day before I had resembled something more like Chef Ramsey in Hell’s Kitchen. That was my reality show, and even though I didn’t want it to be something happened to me when cameras weren’t rolling.
If I could see an outtake of my performance the evening before I knew I’d hide my head in shame. Even worse than Britney’s 2007 breakdown was the frazzled mom moments I created. It wasn’t how I wrote the script, but it somehow came off like this.
Wild-eyed woman’s voice raises in crescendo while gathering dirty socks and empty fruit snack wrappers from the living room floor: “I’m the only one. The only one! No one helps me. No one knows how to do anything but me. I can’t do this anymore! Mommy is losing it, and no one cares!”
Even as my anger and feelings of being taken advantage of start to build and bubble below the surface I’m trying to talk myself down. My inner monologue says, they don’t know. They’re just kids. Yes, this stuff is only important to you, but it’s not really important.
I would have this internal battle arguing with myself, and I’d say out loud, “but look at this! I just swept under the table an hour ago. It looks like I haven’t swept in a week. Why?!”
And my inside voice would whisper, calm down. Step away from the ledge. It’s just crumbs on the floor.”
Because that’s really where I stood, on this precipice of irrational anger over everyday life that was in essence this amazingly, wonderful thing. Yeah, it was chaotic, but it was also awesome. The way the baby grinned that gummy grin, and how she laughed when I made silly faces. If I could sell that kinda joy in a bottle everybody would be buying it. My almost six year old was getting to be so brilliant and witty. I could listen to her talk about life forever, and even though some days it felt like she did indeed talk forever, I really didn’t want it any other way.
I wanted more moments at the breakfast table and less ones yelling at an empty room. I needed the imaginary cameras rolling so I could be inspired to live the life I wanted broadcast on TV, not the way I regretted and prayed about at the end of the day. I wanted it to count for something, not just make it till bedtime. I wanted fullness, happiness, and contentment when the producer said “cut.”
But you know what? Life is reality, and sometimes it ain’t pretty. Sometimes we sweat the small stuff, say things we don’t want to say, and go to bed feeling like we messed it up majorly. Yet in the morning you get up, step up, and try again. Every day isn’t a Father Knows Best episode. Heck, it’s not even Full House. Some days it feels like Honey BooBoo, and that’s okay. Real moms really aren’t perfect, but they can do the best that they can do. That’s usually more than enough.
Today our day ended with a nice, neighborhood stroll to feed the ducks. But some days it ends with two kids crying in timeout and one mommy not far behind. You just keep rolling. Cause one day you look back, you watch the reruns in your mind, and you realize something. Those were the best days of your life.