Some people walk into motherhood gracefully as if they were playing the harp in a long formal gown, I on the other hand, walked into it like a 2nd grader blowing random notes into a recorder clutzing around the house.
My life pre-baby was a great deal different. Hair curled, outfit pressed and hot coffee in tow, I would head to my full time job as a Marketing Director. As my Type A personality led me, outfits were planned, pillows were perfectly fluffed and my day planner was always organized.
When we lost our first, I learned to relinquish some of the control. God taught me in a huge way that my plans were not always what He had for me. Then we got pregnant with Cove. It was like nine months of pure bliss (if you don’t count the morning sickness or utter exhaustion), but still pure bliss. Organizing and decorating his nursery, talking about what our perfect Saturday mornings would be like and how everything would basically be normal, we’d just have this cute little side kick we’d raise and love on.
Then he took his first breath on earth. Ian and I entered this euphoric state where everything was “perfect”. “He sleeps so well… He eats like a champ… I’m feeling great…” Presents showered the doorstep and friends and family loved on us at the hospital. This is cloud 9, right? Only about six days after we got home from the hospital did the world fall apart…
In addition to the postpartum hormones that would cause me to not so beautifully sob in the shower and quite frequently in public, I had become completely undone. The first month was a blur as I fought off three infections, sleepless nights and the overwhelming feelings of not feeling adequate to take care of my child. Then about three months in I thought, “Hey, this is totally normal”. I’ll just return to work, and life will be the exact same. I’ll just have this sweet little guy to take care of. But reality and perfectionism hit me like a skillet upside the head.
I’m sure I’m a broken record when I say that motherhood changes everything. Your heart changes in ways you could never have possibly imagined. And just like marriage, motherhood was like standing in front of a mirror showing me some of the most deep rooted sins and flaws that I had.
This thing called perfection, which I really liked to coin as “organized”, because it sounded less prideful, was eating me alive. I kept telling myself to “pull it together, you can still be put together, be successful at your job and be a perfect mother”. All the while, my child was spitting up all over our white couch, dust balls were collecting in the corner of the house and I would lay awake at night trying to remember if I sent all the emails I needed to for work.
Through the power of scripture, and the rough, but not rude, awakening of motherhood, I realized that the thing I thought had given me so much drive and had led to success in many areas of my life, was actually controlling me. If I didn’t release the thing, it had the ability to tear me apart inch by inch. Colossians 3 wrecked me. I was working heartily, but for all the wrong reasons. It was for the “look and the mind” and not for the heart. My idea of perfectionism was unattainable, and so I had to decide which things to care about.
Now I do still have that innate ability to quickly tidy up and straighten the cushions before we leave the house or go to bed, but it’s not my goal any longer. My goal is holiness and obedience to Christ. So I am practicing – by leaving the house when my hair and makeup aren’t done, by letting my friends see the laundry door open with clothes exploding out of it, by apologizing to friends and family when my heart and actions have been wrong, and by constantly choosing what matters more at that exact moment. I may not be able to have a perfectly tidy house, but if Cove wants to read the same book over and over, I am going to read it instead of trying to make sure things are straight and in line.
I think for a while I had a little bit of an identity crisis.
I have always told Ian that I want for Cove to see me as imperfect. Living in the “bible belt”, I’ve seen kids be wrecked by the idea that they had to be perfect for appearances. Sunday morning best was a lifestyle, not just what you wore to church. I want my children to see their parents are sinners just like them. To apologize when we make mistakes and for them to know we are forgiven and why we have hope for our imperfect nature. I will never be perfect, my kids will never be perfect and our life will certainly never be perfect, but may Christ redeeming grace and glory be seen in our day to day.
Will I still strive for excellence? Of course. And my pillows may be fluffed next time you come over because the natural design in me is to “style”. Certainly not because I want you to see me a certain way, but because a decluttered home makes me happy. Our human love, fallible, is a vulnerable thing. It’s what makes it so rich and beautiful because we have to surrender pieces of ourselves to experience it fully.
These pictures were taken the last night of our trip to St. Simons. Instead of the fancy dinner, we opted to enjoy the beautiful creation and beach in front of us. We hopped in the car, picked up a pizza (which tasted amazing might I add! If you are ever in St. Simons, look up Sal’s pizza), and spent the rest of the night eating and playing as the sun set. There were two white chairs in between the palm trees that looked out over the ocean, and Cove had a blast playing around us while we ate. Ian and I both agreed it was our favorite night of the trip and probably Cove’s too. Perfectly imperfect.