Last October, I was at the height of my volunteer career, collecting donations for two different causes, tallying up hundreds of dollars, and redistributing checks where they needed to go. In November, one check came back to me. I’d sent it to the wrong organization. And then … I lost it.
I know the check is safe. It’s simply lost in my mounds of important papers somewhere in my imperfect house. I can’t find it. The mom who wrote the check is a very nice acquaintance, a Brownie troop leader who has always seemed so perfect to me – pretty, with adorable girls and an organized, cheerful attitude. How could I tell her I had lost her check – inside my house!?
I decided that as soon as the check resurfaced I would give it to her and tell her my sad tale. Problem was, the check didn’t resurface. And I kept waiting because how could I tell her without actually being able to give her the check back? What would she think of me?
But I’ve got to learn to relax about these things. Why do I always assume other moms know exactly what they’re doing and I’m the only one fumbling through motherhood? We moms are a busy bunch, and sometimes we make mistakes. We all fit in somewhere along the Mom Perfection Spectrum. Few of us are among the most perfect or the most incompetent. We’re all mostly muddling along.
Recently, a mom I know with four children told me that her kids are only permitted one hour per day of "screen time," meaning a total of computer, TV and videogame time. I smiled and nodded sweetly, and wondered how one could keep track of four kids’ screen habits. I wouldn’t be able to organize it, let alone have the will and energy to enforce it.
But a few weeks later, a mom I work with at a local organization told me her kids had been getting way too much TV time as she worked hard on our venture. That helped me unclench a little, especially knowing that even as we worked together that day my kids were probably at home with dad staring at the Disney Channel. Sigh.
And so I choose my mom friends by their imperfections. This one yells a little more than I do. That one’s house is every bit as messy as mine. And I’m really beginning to understand that no matter how perfect mothers act, they are not necessarily as good as all that … thank goodness.
Last weekend, I took my daughter to a young writers’ conference and suddenly found myself face-to-face with that lovely mom whose $50 check is lost somewhere in my house.
I steeled up all my courage and told what I had done and how very stupid I felt. She kept trying to interrupt me but I wouldn’t let her make me feel better. I had to reveal all of my shame and beg for understanding.
When I finally stopped spilling my guts, this lovely mom smiled, touched my arm and said, "Don’t worry about it at all. Do you know how many Girl Scout cookie checks I have lost over the years?"
I was pardoned!
Our conversation became a celebration of the foibles of busy motherhood and the many mistakes we all make. And now I have yet another imperfect mom friend.
And that’s the best part of all.