I have a confession when it comes to the idea of the “perfect” mom. It has to do with my kitchen. Well, let me be honest, the downstairs portion of my house. The parts of the house that people can see.
See, I have this deep hatred of slime-making. For about 4 months this summer and fall my kitchen became a slime-making factory. Which means that glue, Tide, and glitter stuck to my counter and floor for 4 solid months. It also meant that my kitchen, the first part of my house that people saw when they walked in, was a mess. My counters looked like the dough boy had taken a poo, and Tinkerbell had blessed it. The stuff just would not come up. I eventually banned the slime, so my kitchen could be “perfect” again. So people could think I had my stuff together. So they could think I knew how to take care of my household. That I was the “perfect” mom. Had a Neat. Tidy. Well organized. Spotless. Glueless. Glitterless kitchen. “Perfect.”
My outward appearance could once again measure up to the standards that others deemed appropriate. That others decided made great mom material.
Here is the thing about outward appearances: “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Since I banned slime those months ago, I have been put through some fires. Those fires have made me become more present, and more cognizant of what makes me who I am, and less worried about who others think I should be. More focused instead on who God has made me to be. It has also made me more observant of the high expectations the world places on others. The expectations that have nothing to do with what God measures.
I noticed something this weekend as I spent time with my family at the local carnival. Without spending time through the lens of my phone for once, I spent time observing those around me. In line for one of the rides was one mom whose look was unconventional. She had piercings in her ears, in her nose, in her eyebrows. Her hair was shaved on the sides, with long braids adorning the hair she decided to leave. Her child had a shaved, poofy mohawk, and she held another child in her arms. Her appearance didn’t bother me at all. What bothered me were the looks she got. She wasn’t an inattentive mom. She was lovingly sharing a snow cone with the kid she was kissing and holding in her arms. She had her other child securely beside her in a wagon. She never took her eyes off her children. She was like any mom enjoying a Friday night out with her man and their kids. What bothered me were the stares. Like she could not be a mom and look this way.
So, then I wondered, what about me? Pink hair. Nose ring. Tattoos. Mom. Grandma, too. Guess, this isn’t what we should look like.
Or what about the kids that didn’t happen to have parents there. Oh my gosh the shame. You mean they were not being helicoptered all night? You mean they were being treated like we lived in the 80s? Where in the world were those parents? No wonder they were scurrying around, hitting each other on the heads with inflatable hammers, and running around pretending to swim with donut swim tubes. It must be their lack of home training. And I must lack it too since I chuckled, and remembered being a kid. Before life got too heavy. Remembered being a kid. One who had clear boundaries at home. Who wasn’t allowed to jump on furniture. Who definitely got in trouble if I dared to hit my brother with anything, even something inflatable. But would do it every chance I got if my mom wasn’t looking.
But, as I chuckled. I saw at least five more snicker.
So. What about me? The same goofy kid about 30 years ago? What about my kids who swing unsupervised in the park, while yes…mom may spend some time on her phone? Because, well…she wants a bit of a break. And, just doesn’t want to swing today. What about my kids who wrestle on the floor, sometimes have to be reminded not to run out in traffic, and still forget that sand should never be thrown on another families beach towel? Guess we deserve a snicker, too.
My kids thankfully don’t care about my tattoos. They don’t even think twice when I come home with pink hair or a nose ring. And because of this they don’t think twice when they see these things or any difference in someone else either. And, that is great. What they need is a mom who understands that life is messy. And the new mom in our lives, the one raising our grandson, needs this message, too. That we don’t need to be neatly pressed, and perfect all the time to be beautiful and relevant. That sometimes we just need to get in the kitchen and let them make slime.
And, I did just that a week ago with 5 preteen girls. Yes, I lifted the slime ban. And for once I didn’t fuss about the mess. I didn’t constantly go behind them and wipe up the counters, and a week later I am still wiping up cornstarch off my floor, and I don’t even care.
I don’t want my kids to see me stressing over the state of my kitchen. I want them to embrace mine and their differences. The ways in which God made them perfect. I want them to see me laughing in the kitchen as their friends tear it up making slime. I don’t want them to worry that someone is going to comment in the Starbucks line that they are too young for coffee. I want them to be happy that their mom treated them to something special that day. And, I never want my daughter to lose the passion she utters when she tells me and the rest of us: “Who cares! Who cares what anyone else thinks!”
It’s OK if our life is a little slimy. If our kitchen is a little messy. If you can’t eat off your floors. If the laundry has been sitting on your bed, unfolded for days. If your youngest is the loudest one in children’s church, and you are the pastor. If you have pink hair, short hair, long hair, nose rings, or like no jewels.
Whatever the differences. Whatever the preferences. However God made you. However God made me. I want my kids to remember I was present. I was laughing. I was completely imperfect and OK with it. Because, God knows I am perfect, and that I am the perfect mom for them.
And he made you the perfect mom, grandmother, wife, aunt, daughter, niece, and mentor, too.
Body and soul, I am marvelously made! Psalm 139:14, MSG
Go! Embrace and be present in your slimy, yet perfectly imperfect marvelously made mess today!