Sunday, April 6, 2014

IMperfectionist - My Messy, Beautiful


I have a confession to make. I am one of Those People. Correction. I used to be one of Those PeopleBack in the day, my house was very, very clean. I made annual contributions to my IRA. I could speak intelligently about things. All that crazy crafty stuff on Pinterest? I actually did it. "Oh, where did you get that adorable tutu/headband/burlap banner/custom invite/themed cake topper?" Me, demurring, "Oh, this old thing? I just, ahem, y'know, made it. Painstakingly. By hand." I sent personalized photo thank you cards, and never forgot a birthday. My wardrobe was arranged by season, type, and color. I know this will not endear me to my mommy-blogger brethren, but I never wore yoga pants to anywhere but yoga. I actually went to yoga. And underneath my non-stretchy-pants? Cute matching bra and underwear. Always. 

Fast forward four years. 

The laundry is never, ever done. I clean like a madwoman before someone comes over just so I can say, "Sorry about the mess." My IRA receives all the attention of a red-headed stepchild. My IQ is the square root of what it used to be. And Crafty McCrafterson has gone into early retirement. Her remaining useful life has been wholly usurped by Etsy. I still have thousands of yards of tulle and drawers of scrapbook paper and every single finish of Mod Podge, but much like my IRA, it just sits there collecting dust. When April 1st came and went, I tossed my lengthy Christmas Thank You Card To Do List into the trash. My grandmother is probably rolling over in her grave. 

I still don't wear yoga pants out and about, but that is mainly because I am quite certain my bargain basement pantalones provide less a$$-masking than their pricey Lululemon counterparts, which is not a lot. I haven't worked out in eons, unless you count dead-lifting angry toddlers. And matching undergarments? Fuhgeddaboutit. The other day I realized I had been wearing my underwear backwards AND inside-out, all day, which is a feat, because they were thongs. And this is not an uncommon occurrence. And while we're on the subject of a day spent with thong underwear up your front-butt, I recently adopted a new credo: Life's too short for uncomfortable underpants. My twenty-two-year-old self is ashamed. 

I don't know when exactly this happened. It wasn't even when I had Jack. I was still able to hold it together for a while after that. But sometime in the last year or two, I just hit a wall. I am maxed out

I don't want to sound like Gwyneth Paltrow here: Oh woe is me, my privileged life is so hard. It's all relative. I am well aware that, in the grand scheme of things, I am pretty darn lucky. See Fig. 1, below. 

We have jobs. We have (some) money. We have family and friends that love us. And we are a "We." I am (usually) not doing this alone. My husband is an awesome dad and partner and friend. Someone mows our lawn and cleans our house once a week. I order 76% of the things in my life online and they are delivered to my doorstep free of charge. Sometimes even my groceries. I know. Did I ever tell you the story about the time I saw the UPS guy outside of Barnes & Noble, and he said to me, "Wow! I didn't know you shopped anywhere other than Amazon." OMG. I have no idea why he would say that... 

"Oh, do you own a business that requires the frequent shipment and receipt of goods?" Uh, NOPE. Just further proof that you can't underestimate American inertia (or blatant consumerism). P.S. If I ever get divorced, my husband will probably use this photo as evidence. Drives him NUTS. But unless he's going to go to Target and Buy Buy Baby for car seats and diapers and birthday gifts and replacement blankies and skateboard helmets and baseball bats and shin guards and "ironing man" electric toothbrushes (they exist) and new kids' clothes because they grow when you blink and SOCKS because WHERE do all of the socks go?!? ... 
But somehow, in spite of all of that convenience and good fortune, I am still just hanging on by a thread. I honestly do not understand how everyone else in the world just handles their sh*t. Maybe they actually don't? That is what I like to tell myself anyway.

It's funny. I don't know if it's a blessing or a curse, but I somehow project a greater level of "having my sh*t together-ed-ness" than I actually possess. This is not a new phenomenon. I remember in law school, we had this moot court thing and I was sweating BALLS and felt like I was 2.3 seconds away from passing out, but afterwards everyone said, "Wow! You crushed it! How do you stay so calm?!" I was like, ummmm, if your definition of calm involves dinner-plate-sized sweat stains through-and-through a gabardine wool suit, then yes, I am one cool cucumber! 

But even now, I am regularly accused of being totally on top of it. It boggles my mind. Even by people that know me fairly well. My own father, for example. He recently said to me: "Well, I never worry about you because you are so good at taking care of yourself and everyone else." (He also thinks I have thick skin, am super social, and easily make friends, "Like [my] mom." Pretty much wrong on all counts!) And on my birthday one of my BFFs sent me this sweet message about how I'm so good at balancing life. I mean. I am so thankful they think so well of me, but then I'm thinking, DO YOU NOT SEE ME DROWNING HERE, PEOPLE?! 

And I don't think anyone can accuse me of hiding the ball. My entire blog is about how life and motherhood have their way with me on a daily basis. But apparently people think I'm just being self-deprecating for comedic effect? Well. Let me take this opportunity to dispel any myths: I. Am. Strugglin'. I can't even call it a balancing act because that would imply that I have some sort of grasp on all of the sharp, spinning facets of my life, and that would be false. 

I hardly recognize myself anymore. But you know what? This is me. The New Me. Take it or leave it. 

My family? They are legally obligated to love me, no matter what. And my old friends? They're grandfathered in. They knew me back when I actually, legitimately, had my sh*t together and was fun and still had some brain cells and never ever had shrinky-dink Cheerios spot-welded to my t-shirt. So I feel like I get some carryover cred for that. I also have all sorts of dirt and have held all their hairs while they puked so they're not goin' anywhere ;) But what about new friends? Those two scary words: Mom friends. What about them? 

The thing is, I'm just too tired to pretend. There aren't enough hours in the day. And the hours minutes seconds I do have? I don't want to spend them cleaning something that will get messy again in 46 seconds, or making a tutu I could purchase and have delivered to my door for $8. The concept of opportunity cost has become very real to me since I made tiny humans. I know it sounds cheesy and cliche, but there really is nowhere else I'd rather be. Except maybe in bed, with a good book. And a grilled cheese sandwich. But dusting? Properly folding fitted sheets? Alphabetizing my spice rack? I would honestly prefer to play seventeen back-to-back-to-back games of Chutes & Ladders. 

The challenge, now, in addition to learning to love and accept my own New Me, is finding others that will love and accept The New Me, too. Toeing that line between "getting REAL," and getting a call from CPS and/or County Mental Health Services. It's scary, right? To put yourself out there like that, and hope that others are equally willing to let their messy, crazy, beautiful show. But I can't be the only one. Can I? :)   
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This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

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23 comments:

  1. Love it! Yours is the first essay I've read today. Both funny and real...LOVE. Let's be friends ;)

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  2. Great read! I can relate on every, single, level. I am proud to be in this project with you and the many others who are letting it all hang out! Keep keepin' on!- Meg Horan

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  3. Love love love this. In fact, it sounds *exactly* like me. We should be friends. I live in Maryland. If you are anywhere near, we should meet. Not like I'm a stalker, but it is *rare* to meet someone who writes as though it came out of your own head!

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    1. I think Maryland may be about as far away as you can get from San Diego! But I agree! So rare! And so fun that this project is connecting so many like-minded souls!!! Hugs to you!

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  4. Oh my gosh- I love this! I am right there with you! If this is what your blog is like~ you have a new follower! :)

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    1. Thank you Jaymi! Love hearing I'm not crazy, or, that I'm not the only crazy one! ;)

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  5. Oh, holy cry...LOVE THIS. You favorited my tweet, and I'm so glad I stopped by. This cracked me up. I can so totally relate--heck, my blog is called The Juggle Struggle! And I have the same affliction of appearing more together than I am. We are not alone!

    You have a new follower. :)

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    1. Yay! Thank you Lisa! The Juggle Struggle. Love that! Struggling people who mistakenly appear to know what they're doing, unite! ;) So glad to meet you through the MBW project!

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  6. LOVE.IT!!!! You are not alone, and those that "have it all together" are only one vomitalzooza away from losing it all... you can see it in their eyes. Life happens, sh&t happens, and all we have control over is our reaction to it all! I love your writings!!!! Oh, and I LOVE your flow chart! Did you see my "guide to leggings??" :) http://chaosinmotionblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/my-guide-to-leggings.html

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    1. Thank you Diane! You CAN see it in their eyes, lol. I'll check out your post! I hope you're going to unlock the secret to leggings because I have yet to discover it ;)

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  7. I LOVE this project because I got to read this! LOVE IT! I'm sorry but anyone who can go a full day with a thong on BACKWARDS deserves a prize. I just don't even bother with underwear half the time.
    The great thing about Motherhood is, you don't have to have all of your shit together to love your kids and in the end that is all that matters.

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    1. Thank you!!! The name of your blog caught my eye earlier! I thought, four boys. Wow. She must be brave and messy and beautiful ;) Thanks for your wise words! Big hugs!

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  8. I LOVED this and I'm totally coming back to read more.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Heather

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  9. Seriously. Yes. Love this essay.

    Lisa Solar

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  10. Deadlifting angry toddlers totally counts! RIGHT??

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    1. If yes, then I am WINNING at exercise!!! ;)

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  11. Thank you for this! It was so good. I wish I wrote it!!

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    1. Thank you! Love the blog name. I can so relate. Here's to lowering the bar! ;)

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  12. I so get this/feel this/identify with this! I'm sorry to say that even as the kids grow and leave the nest, it's still a challenge...at least for me. You sound like me in that our exterior reveals little to nothing of the turmoil inside. Thanks for being real.

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