I always feel pangs of jealousy and panic as I scroll through the Instagram feeds of other families.
“What a perfect day we had with the kids at the park!”
“What an amazingly awesome week we had as a family at the beach!”
“I can’t believe how perfect of a weekend we had with all our friends and our kids!”
I struggle to say that I have “perfect vacations” let alone “perfect weekends” or “perfect days.” Why and how do all these families seem to accomplish such frequent perfection? What am I missing? What am I doing wrong? Why am I missing out on their joy?
The other day I was at the park with all three of my kids. My two boys discovered a creek and decided that they wanted to rip off their clothes and jump in. I huffed behind them holding a squirmy, dirty and fussy 1-year-old, and decided, eh, why not. Go for it. They squealed with increasing delight as they removed their clothes, reveling in the forbidden joy of being naked in public and feeling a rush from acting on an impulsive decision. The water was cool enough to sting, which further evoked screams of delight and fortitude. I surrendered to the moment and cautiously entered the water myself with baby in tow.
As we waded out to the center of the stream, I looked up at my boys who were playing with such carefree exuberance. There was kicking and splashing, rock throwing, belly-flopping and fish catching (attempted). Their white bums a stark contrast to their tan legs, serving as a reminder of the many hours they have spent swimming their summers away. A strong gust of wind loosened a round of leaves from the trees downstream and I watched in delight as they fluttered carefully into the water below.
This moment is perfect, I thought to myself.
Yes, it was surrounded by many not-so-perfect moments. Especially when two cold and wet boys discovered that I was, in fact, telling the truth when I said earlier that I did not have a towel. And when a naked baby kept rolling into the mud immediately after I had cleaned her in the stream. But in that one moment, looking downstream at white bums and softly falling leaves, life was perfect.
It was after this moment that I realized I need to stop looking for illusive stretches of perfection, and celebrate the many bits of perfection that surround me. Because they are everywhere. Tucked into a bedtime cuddle, squished into a wet and sticky kiss, or dripping off a shared ice cream cone. When I look at life from this perspective, I feel very rich with perfection.
I can’t let the many difficult moments of motherhood rob me of a sense of perfection and joy.
I need to hold these wonderful moments above the chaos that surrounds the rearing of three spirited little humans. I need to use them to fill my glass of motherhood half full instead of half empty, and let the light from these moments shine through the murkiness that comes with the territory of motherhood.
Yes, my life lacks perfection and I am not a perfect mom. But I am a mom who, on a whim, let’s her kids get naked and jump into a creek. A mom who sneaks her children ice creams before dinner and almost always acquiesces to a sleepy child’s request for one more book. I am also a mom who is surrounded by an abundance of perfect little bits – little bits where all is happy and all is good.
And from these bits, I find joy. So much joy.