(Previously published on PowerOfMoms.com)
The other day I was having a really good “mom” day. I had gotten up before my children, read from a book that really helps to center me for the day, and had good conversation with my husband. I showered before breakfast, enjoyed Cheerios with my children while reading scripture to them, and was compassionate to my kids who had severe head colds.
Then, since we homeschool, I cheerfully (and successfully) convinced my children to complete their math even though they weren’t feeling well (I gave everyone vitamins on empty stomachs in my quest to be a great mom!). I invited the older ones to come outside to do their work in the fresh air, while the little ones and I had fun swinging, climbing trees, making 21 imaginary pizzas, and doing math. I patted myself on the back. “What a good mom I am,” I thought.
We came inside and thought it would be fun to make popcorn. We made not one bowl of popcorn, but two. Some got on the floor, but I didn’t sweat it. The table got dirty, and I hadn’t taken time to load the dirty dishes from breakfast in the dishwasher, but, “Hey,” I thought, “We will have a little lazy day, spend time with each other, and get everyone feeling better again. I’ll finish the kitchen when the kids take a nap.” Good plan.
Suddenly, I started feeling nauseated. Really nauseated. I struggled to the living room and lay on the couch. The little ones came running in, scattering popcorn in their wake. The kids with head colds started feeling worse, and soon we all were draped over the furniture with blankets, pillows, and popcorn scattered everywhere.
Eventually I had to run the bathroom, having lost the fight. And I decided to go to bed, hoping to feel better in a few minutes.
My husband was in his home office, blissfully unaware of what we were all going through, when he heard a knock at the door. It was my friend Kobie (AKA Really-Cool-Girl-Who-Always-Has-A-Clean-House-And-Cute-Kids). She needed to pick something up from me, so he invited her in.
It looked like a popcorn bomb had gone off that included pillows, blankets, sick kids and healthy kids running wild. From my bedroom, I could hear Kobie’s cheerful voice. I could tell exactly what was happening. I wanted to stay in my bed, curled up and hide forever from embarrassment. I felt like the most awful homemaker.
But then, I forced myself to rethink and retrain my feelings. Being a deliberate mom means doing the important things first. It means not apologizing for what you think is right for your family.
I tried to not criticize myself or be embarrassed. I had done that day what had been important to me and my family. I had all the basics covered: getting myself centered, teaching my children good values, having fun, trying to strengthen my relationships with them, and tending to their education even though they were ill. Everything above and beyond that was nice, but on a sick day, it could be done another time.
Thankfully, I know Kobie does not judge those around her and gives a large measure of grace to everything she sees. She is also a deliberate mother and understands that these kinds of popcorn days happen. But even if she wasn’t that kind of a person, this was an excellent exercise for me to be able to go beyond appearances and be gentle with myself about perceived imperfections. Once I looked at it, as far as the basics were concerned, it had been a pretty successful day.
Jennifer Brimhall lives in rural Arizona with her husband Ammon, her 5 children and lots of dark chocolate. With a background in education and history, she loves being able to guide her children's education in a variety of ways, including at times, homeschooling. She is a natural resource gatherer, and inspirational resources make her especially happy. An avid reader, she enjoys reading historical and business classics with a side of clean Regency romance. She is also a volunteer and occasional contributor for the organization Power of Moms. You can find her at Raisethegood.com and on Facebook.