Last week, I found myself making a list of all the ways I'm letting my kids down.
For example, Asher would love to have a little art station somewhere, with easily accessible supplies. But I can't come up with a way to give him that freedom when his two siblings are not ready for it. Silas really enjoyed gymnastics, and continues to scale every surface of the house to prove it, but I can't work the timing out with naps and preschool. Asher is forever asking me to build Legos with him, but ya'll - I HATE LEGOS. HATE them. Emmy fell on her face - with the sickening thud of a little forehead hitting asphalt - the other day, because I thought she was ready to stand beside me in the parking lot. Clearly she was not. Asher needs more challenging books. Silas drinks too much juice. I don't play with them enough. They aren't challenged enough. On and on it goes.
And then I thought - pa-lease.
It's true, I don't play with them as much as I could. Silas does drink juice every day, Asher can't have an art station because of the havok his siblings would wreak, and Emmy did indeed fall on her face because I overestimated her abilities. It happens. The bigger question is, where did I get the idea that I have to be the one to play Legos with Asher? Brian loves Legos; why can't that be something he does with his dad? Or that preschoolers have to take a class to learn to run and climb? We have trees in the backyard, and they are free and accessible between preschool and naps. Where did I get the idea that juice really needs to be a source of stress? Or that I am going to be able to prevent every conceivable fall?
Where did I get this idea that our normal life wasn't good enough for my kids?
Mommy blogs, of course.
I read a ton of them, and my guess is that you do too. The beautiful photography, all-natural recipes, the emphasis on learning and art in the ordinary ... it's all very inspiring, until it becomes a mandate. Then it is a weight, a burden, another standard I can never quite reach.
At the same time that I was thinking through all of this, Heather made an interesting statement in an email: "If I do nothing else right, my kids will have books and books can fix what I get wrong. " Books are important to Heather; nobody had to tell her to share her love of reading with her kids. She didn't need a blog post to inspire her. It was a natural overflow of her life.
There are plenty of things I do without needing a tutorial or a nudge. Nobody had to tell me to read to my children at night, or to pray with them as I tuck them in. Nobody had to tell me to cook their favorite desserts for them, or to make their favorite muffins for breakfast. Nobody had to tell me to take my children outside as often and long as possible. That nature diffuses tension and creates wonder in my own life, and gives the freedom for boys to be as boisterous as they please. I don't need encouragement to share with them the things that I love, that I personally find inspiring and hopeful and full of life. It is a natural overflow of who I am.
My kids don't need a perfect mother. They need me to be me, and to love them and share my life with them. When I accept my own gifts - and shortcomings - and share my life with them as a natural overflow of what I love, our normal life is more than enough. For them, and for me.