Yesterday, we took a family nap. All of us–the husband, the baby, me, and even the dog cooperated.
It was cozy and sweet, but it got me thinking. I tried to lift myself out of the moment, to see it as someone else might, to see it as I would if it were not my family. And this is what I realized: we always assume things are a lot rosier than reality allows them to be. It’s not news to most of you, and it wasn’t news to me, but it emphasized the problem with all the comparing we do. We compare our beautiful but messy reality with a snapshot of others’ lives. And when all you see is the snapshot, the messiness is hidden.
Sure, you might have noticed the messiness of my bedroom, but you wouldn’t have known that my arm was asleep, the baby’s diaper was wet, my husband was worn out from work the night before, and the dog was dirty. And you surely wouldn’t have known that while I was enjoying watching my baby sleep against my chest, I was ready for my husband to wake up and take me to get the ice cream cone he promised (I realize that sounded like something a 5-year-old would say. The truth is weird sometimes.).
We all know better, I think, but it doesn’t stop us. In the quickness of the moment, we compare. We see the pretty snapshot: the well-dressed family in church with ironed clothes and no last minute ponytails. The woman in the grocery store with no junk in her shopping cart and a flat stomach. The friend that spends hours doing creative things with her kids, always brings something homemade to the potluck, and has date night with her husband.
It’s all a mirage, friends.
If you could creep inside those minds, you would see the mess behind the beauty. It would only take a few minutes.
It doesn’t mean the beauty isn’t real. It doesn’t mean that my family nap wasn’t cozy and sweet. It just means it wasn’t perfect. It means life is messy–always, without exception, and especially when you bring kids into the mix.
Someone is looking at you, and she thinks you’ve got no mess. She sees the snapshot but not the real life. I know you think there’s no way you have everyone that fooled–surely everyone can see your sloppily dressed kids and your constant anxiety–but someone looks at you and feels inferior.
So show them the mess. Don’t try to camouflage it. Admit your defeats. Be vulnerable and draw close to other women around the honest messiness of our lives. Then we can all rejoice in the beauty of our everyday reality, realizing that messiness simply makes it real but no less beautiful.