My Christmas cards came back with the colors all wrong. We had gone outside for a photo shoot with my sister and her fancy camera and my dad who brought out the baby smiles. Gorgeous photos. We did all the necessary handling of big high-res files (read: time-consuming) and I chose a template online. The photos looked “cold” to me, so I warmed them up with an app. On screen, they looked perfect. When I picked them up, they were yellow. Like a filter gone wrong.
I stared at them for full minutes in the store before speaking to the also- silent employee. They had already printed 50. What can you do? That is, if you’re pretty sure you won’t have time to make another trip and you know without a doubt you don’t want to spend more money. I said, OK. And took them home.
The first three friends I showed it to tried to talk me off the ledge, “oh they’re so cute! I see what you mean, but they’re really fine.” But were they just making me feel better? So disappointing! I’m on top of things in general, really! So why can’t I send out a card that reflects that? Cards are on the easier side of life’s challenges! Wah! Wah!
A close associate of mine who gets right to the point said, “Well, it depends on the purpose of the cards for you. Are you trying to be the perfect mom? Or send holiday greetings?”
Touché. That put it in perspective. I mean, why did I care so much anyway? Is this just another way we/I compete for perfection or Best Mom award? Or was I just trying to do justice to the cuteness? Or was I just hoping to get my money’s worth? Or did I want maximum gorgeousness on refrigerators across the nation in 2016?
Come on. Or, “Come ON!” as E says. As the perfect, flawless, correctly-colored cards flow in from friends and family, I am so bugged! It’s the truth! It’s my ego. I notice it. I practice noticing. I practice enjoying everyone’s cards. This is a perfect Christmas lesson, right?
At the SMC holiday party, I was trying to protect toddler fingers by carefully closing a door, not knowing that E was on the other side of the door, on the hinge side. When I popped my head around the corner, he was in a soundless scream. It turned out that his fingers were completely unharmed, probably mostly surprised or minorly pinched, but in that moment I didn’t know what damage I might have done. I’m still traumatized! I cried to my mom over the phone later that day- she had the perfect response: maybe I just spared him a worse door experience in the future? I felt like such a failure and really jolted that I, his protector, could be the one doing damage, however well-intentioned. And that there will be more of these occasions in the future, no question. It’s part of the deal.
Then, over the weekend I was lucky to get a little kitchen from a friend of a friend for cheap. That night, at a birthday party, the moms were talking about how the plastic ones are an eyesore. I had a plastic one.
All of these things serve to cut a mom down a few notches.
So why do we all have this refrain ready in our heads: “I’m SUCH a bad mom. I am the WORST mom.” We all hear it. It’s a thing. Can we abolish this already? There will never be an actual competition or actual awards and we all do exactly our best, right? And the kids are safe, healthy, happy.
So, let my less-than-perfect cards symbolize less-than-perfection and the reality of life: messy, sometimes painful, sometimes not what we expected. But full of so so so much love every day. We all do our best, mamas. We have a blast in the plastic kitchen. And that’s all that matters.
I hope the moms see my card and realize the jig is up!
Love to you all, and happy happy holidays. xo