Saffron came home with a new set of sight words last week. Her teacher created this adorable folder with a side that reads, “Words to I need to work on” and “Words I know” on the other side. The folder is purple which is all kinds of Saffron’s jam. As we were getting ready to go through her words this week, she created a couple of charts. She wrote the words she already knows on one side and the words that still need work on the other side. She presented this chart to me and excitedly proclaimed, “Every time I get a word right, we’ll put a check by it and we’ll keep doing that until we run off the paper!”
Oh, first born children.
As a reward system at her school, students can earn “bucks” to be used in the school “store.” Where I am certain high-quality, plastic, priceless possessions are awaiting purchase from well-behaved children with handfuls of those bucks. Saffron has earned 18 bucks towards the required 30 to go shopping in the store. But yesterday, she came home feeling dejected. She’d only earned one buck that day.
Since the teachers began doling out bucks, on average, Saffron has earned two bucks a day.
She wants more. The most. To be the best. Believe me when I say, she’s not competing with other students, but rather competing against her own standards. We, her parents, are not judging her based on how many bucks she earns at school or how many words she knows or how many check marks she puts next to each word. But she is sure judging herself.
My daughter cannot do a single thing to earn my love and she cannot do a single thing to lose my love.
We tell both our children that often. Because in our eyes? They are the most precious little people ever. “Nothing you have done or will ever do can change how much I love you. Because I love you more today than I did yesterday and I will love you more tomorrow than I do today!”
Sometimes, I wish someone would say that to me, too.
Most days, I feel like everyone around me, including my kids, is keeping some sort of chart on me. “Stuff I Do Well” on one side and “Stuff I Need to Improve Upon On” the other. With the “Stuff I Do Well” chart significantly shorter than I like to admit.
Then, this week, I stopped in the middle of the street to talk with a sweet neighbor driving back home. Our kids are in class together so we talked about the teacher and how nice this year has been going and then she said this thing. She said she read an article or heard a commentary on how moms often feel like they look around at the other mothers around them, at the bus stop or in PTA or at the soccer fields, and think, “Everyone else is totally together but me!”
And, y’all, I am shaking my head in agreement with her.
“Oh totally! But we’re…”
We were kinda talking on top of each other so I stopped mid-sentence because she was saying this,
“And I thought about YOU and how you have it all together!”
WHAT THE WHAT????
“You always have on your makeup and your house is always clean and you are always pulled together!”
Friends. I have worn the same pair of yoga pants three days this week. IN A ROW. I am changing unmentionables, clearly, and my tee shirt (my husband’s XL marching band tee shirts) and even if I had makeup on that morning, for bible study or lunch with Saffron, I take it off when I get home BEFORE I walk to meet the other mommas and wait for our kiddos.
My house is rarely ACTUALLY clean. I walk by my husband’s sink multiple times a day and wonder exactly how thick the coating of salt from contact solution, left over spit from tooth brushing, and random facial hair from the shaving will get before I dig the cleaner out from the laundry room. And the answer? I’m not sure. BUT NOT TODAY.
In fairness, our house is generally picked up. Because I can’t stand clutter. I like empty counters even if the pattern of the countertops completely camouflages the drips, spills, and crumbs. And I really, really, REALLY prefer climbing into a made bed at night but, y’all, it only gets made about half the time.
My living room has two white couches and on the surface, you might believe I am Mommy Dearest kind of crazy. But you know what you can do with white slip covered couches?
So when something happens, like yesterday, when my son SAT in BBQ sauce that was on his plate (no, no, I have no idea how that happened) and then decided to LAY DOWN on my WHITE couch? I can bleach the tar out that thing and put it right back on like nothing ever happened.
There is some sort of rotting vegetable beyond recognition in my refrigerator and I just avoid putting anything in that drawer hoping somehow tiny woodland creatures will swoop in during the night and clean it up.
I miss my friends. A month is too long to go without seeing them.
I haven’t hugged my mom’s neck since July and every September when her birthday rolls around, I muddle through that day missing her so much my chest aches.
I am a zillion years behind on my writing and my reading and on refreshing my memory of “Call the Midwife” before the new season gets loaded on Netflix.
I gave up The Sugar…again…this week because even my fat jeans don’t fit and that is unacceptable. And also because I only have one pair of leggings so losing the weight will be cheaper than buying new clothes.
So in the chart of life, I am failing at ALL THE THINGS.
I think what my amazing friend sees are just the things on “Stuff I Do Well” side. And that, friends, is basically summed up with FOOLING YOU. Smoke and mirrors and dry shampoo.
My friend must only see the things on her “Stuff I Need to Improve Upon” list and think that’s what the rest of us see. But it’s not. Because when I look at her and her life I see an unbelievably loving mother, a diligent, determined small business owner, and a kind, caring friend.
Plus, she has a pool.
The truth is we are all comparing ourselves to our own crazy standards. We compete with ourselves because everyone is too busy doing the exact same thing. And not realizing it either. Like Saffron, we’re striving to achieve a goal, possibly trying to buy some plastic, temporary trinket, and we’re checking a list no one is looking at but us.
I am grateful my friend lets me be a part of her life. I am grateful to know her and watch as she loves her girls and builds her business. I am also grateful for bleach. Really grateful for bleach.
Grateful my Father is not keeping a list. Grateful for a Savior who died so that our Father never had to use a list again. We are no longer slaves to the law because of what Jesus sacrificed on the cross.
Maybe, this week, let’s throw away our charts too? Yes?