Today I am having “one of those days.” At first, everything was going along just fine. My 7 month old and I woke up, had some good quality snuggle time, and then I hopped in the shower. We were headed to a mom’s group and I didn’t want us to be late (ok I’m perpetually late… what I mean is I didn’t want us to be later than usual.) As I got out of the shower, I looked at the clock… no time to dry my hair! I threw it up in a messy bun with a bit of frustration- now I’ll have to re-wash my hair again if I want it to be styled in any other way… but oh well, not that big of a deal. Anyway, after changing the baby’s diaper, getting her dressed, and searching the living room for her headband (totally unnecessary but super cute), we made it out the door. ETA 9:33. Shoot, it starts at 9:30… but oh well, again not a major thing.
This was my first time at the group so I wanted to make a good impression and also really just be able to socialize with other moms. Luckily they didn’t start right on time so I had a chance to meet up with my girlfriend and get introduced to some other people. Part way through the meeting, I smelled it… baby poop. Even though I didn’t hear it coming (it’s usually unmistakable), I knew we were in for a mess because she didn’t go at all the day before. Without getting into too much detail, I was right. But I swiftly cleaned it up and all was good. Or so I thought… I passed her to another mom to hold and that’s when someone ELSE pointed it out… a giant poop mark on the leg of her outfit. Immediately I started digging through my bag but had a sinking feeling. I distinctly remembered using her back up clothes a couple days ago and in my rush this morning I’m positive I did not, in fact, put a new outfit in. Gosh, how embarrassing?! Luckily my girlfriend offered us her little boy’s spare pajamas and we were saved! (And thankfully her son didn’t end up needing them- now THAT would have been bad!). The meeting ended and it was really nice. I am definitely glad I went.
As I’m walking through the parking lot in our first 80 degree day here in northern Michigan (we had over 32 inches of snow this April… we deserve it!), I noticed there was a bit of a breeze but it felt so refreshing! I walked up to my car and noticed it was a pretty tight squeeze to get my daughter in on the side I usually load her. I tried to maneuver the car seat into the car without opening the door all the way because I was pretty sure it would hit the car next to me. As I’m realizing this, the car on the other side pulled out so I went around to that side. My arms were full with the car seat and diaper bag and at the angle I was at, I couldn’t nudge the door shut so I just left it partly open as I went to put her in on the other side. Just as I got her seat clicked in, I heard a loud “CRACK”! Yep, you guessed it. A gust of wind caught my partially open door and it hit the car next to me. I ran to the other side of the car to find a streak of my white paint on the other car. I quickly tried rubbing it off and it started to come off but not all the way. So I went around to the other side, unloaded the baby, and went back inside in search of the owner. After talking to everyone I could find, the owner never materialized so I wrote a note and left my name and number. Having done all I felt I could do, I loaded the baby into the car again and headed home.
Next on our agenda was to drop off some newly made coffee mugs to church as donations for the art show/fundraiser this weekend. I had planned to drop them off yesterday, but missy girl is teething and had a clingy nurse-or-cry-all-day kind of day. She seemed decently happy though today and I just had to add my tags and business cards to the mug handles. The tags were not turning out how I wanted them to, the printer kept jamming, and the baby started fussing. I just needed 5 minutes to focus to fix the printer so I could remake the tags, but my sweet girl needed me more. I stopped what I was doing and tended to her. When she was fed/changed/happy I loaded her up and went to finish putting the tags on when I realized that despite having a house that looks like Michael’s craft store, somehow I don’t own a single hole punch, which I needed to attach my business cards around the ribbon with the tags. So off we went to Michael’s to get one. Baby girl cried the whole way there (she hates her car seat). I got her out, set up her stroller (she’s getting too heavy for me to easily carry her car seat in), and walked in the store. She finally stopped crying as I picked out a hole punch (well two, because one made a heart shape… how could I resist?!). I headed to the check out when a nice woman probably in her late 50s stopped me and said “Wow, you are so pretty!” She then turned to my baby and said “and she’s pretty too, just like her momma!” To be honest with you, I was shocked. First of all, I’m used to people commenting on the baby in public, but not me. And secondly, what was she talking about?! I had my messy bun in place, the faintest hint of make up from my mad dash out the door earlier, leggings and a flowy button down top (because everything I wear is nursing friendly and I still don’t fit into my pre pregnancy jeans). I had been rushing around from place to place, cuddling a screaming baby, and desperately trying to finish my art project all day, which wasn’t turning out as perfectly as I had planned. And through all this, a perfect stranger stopped to comment on how nice I looked.
Aside from a heartfelt affirmation of my outward appearance, this comment meant so much more to me. It immediately made me pause for the first time all day and reflect. Sure, on the surface a cluster of imperfect moments could have made me feel like a failure of a mom- I was late this morning, I didn’t have a change of clothes for my daughter after a poopy blow out, I hit a stranger's car, my printer stopped working, etc. To be completely honest, before this encounter I really was feeling like I couldn’t do anything right. But this woman’s comment made me suddenly stop and think “it’s ok, you’re doing just fine.” Sure, I felt like a total hot mess. But I hadn’t stopped to consider all the things that I had been doing that actually mattered- I met new moms today, I nursed my baby several times providing her with nourishment and comfort. I cuddled her as she cried and comforted her. I actually did finish my art donations and even though the tags weren’t perfect, they really weren’t bad. I had been so hard on myself all day that it wasn’t until this woman stopped me that it occurred to me to give myself some slack.
The woman in the store didn’t see all of the other things that had happened or my growing insecurities that grew from them. She just saw me and my baby in the store. And something (let’s be honest, someONE… aka the Holy Spirit) prompted her to stop me. And this one interaction made me stop and think about my day in a totally different way. Despite all the set backs, I was doing it! Here I was with my baby smiling up at me- happy, fed, and loved. And I had also managed to do things to fill my own cup as well- socializing with new friends, working on my art projects, and loving on my baby. God brought me this moment of grace in the midst of chaos and it was so powerful! I had been so caught up in myself and my perceptions of the situations I had faced that until this moment I hadn’t stopped to consider all the good. Or what actually matters.
Life is messy. Things happen that are out of our control. And that’s ok. Even the things that are in our control don’t always turn out the way we want them to- and that’s ok too. (As an extreme control freak this is much easier said than put into practice). It is not so much the things that happen to us during the day that matter, but how we react to them, recover from them, or even just how we THINK of them. So the next time you feel like the wheels are falling off the cart and you’re struggling to keep everything together, take a moment to stop and breathe. You’ve got this. You’re doing it. And by golly, you look good too.