Real Life Mama: Real life is not doing everything well all the time

As a wedding gift to our blended family, Lee and I bought each kid a small keychain with a puzzle piece on it that had each kid’s name on one side and our wedding date on the other. Last weekend, we gave the gifts to them while I documented it with photos and then posted it on social media.

I positioned us just so and captured an adorable pic with all our hands in a circle (yes, even the dog’s paw) holding our new matching keychains. And then, a friend commented on my post and said, “Such a great gift. You do everything so well.”

And, well, in that moment, I felt like a fraud. The truth is, I didn’t do very well at all — the gifts came weeks after the wedding — mainly because I completely forgot to order them. And that picture in particular was a chore to put together. In fact, to make matters worse, the actual keychains didn’t even link together well like puzzle pieces should have.

And while I did also post all the iterations of our attempt at a family photo with no photographer and using the capture button from my watch which turned into all kinds of bloopers, I still felt kind of icky inside about her comment.

I do NOT do everything well. I am just pretty good at making sure that I post and show off the things that make me seem like I am doing things well.

What I didn’t share on social media was when I got frustrated with Maylie for not being prepared for dance when I had told her multiple times to get ready for it. Which, in turn led to me biting off my stepdaughter’s head for asking what time we were doing the next event. And really, I was just upset with myself because I tried to change my outfit and nothing I put on made me feel good about my appearance because of the weight I had gained.

I didn’t tell you all about how annoyed I was with my stepson, who was content watching videos up until bed, but then started wailing moments after lights out. Or how I walked in ready to lose it thinking he was just mad his screen time was up, and then he quietly told me he missed his Mommy.

I haven’t shared how terrible I am at interpreting and relaying seventh-grade math and how, sometimes, when I help my bonus girl with her homework, I just answer a few questions because it is late and dang it we just need to get it done. (Unless her teacher is reading this, in which case, just kidding). Ha!

I don’t typically go around posting all the things that I don’t do so well, because, well, I don’t want people to think that things aren’t going well! Isn’t that what social media does to us? We all get to see how well everyone is doing — how so and so has this perfect life and things are just wonderful.

But, you see, there are a lot of things that I really don’t do very well. However, there is one thing I have surely gotten better at — and that is the grace I grant myself.

The puzzle pieces — they were late and didn’t fit together perfectly and the kids were annoyed with my photo shoot, but each and every one of them still felt like they were an important part to what makes up our family.

And I apologized to Maylie and Mia for taking out my frustrations with myself on them. Instead of projecting the blame of my actions, I took responsibility and made sure they knew that I was sorry — and with it, that I, too, make mistakes and am still learning.

Once I heard my stepson’s tears were for his mom, my heart softened. Even if he didn’t know my initial frustration inside of me, I was aware and quickly changed my approach to gentle. This is a real thing – spending time away – and well, sometimes I miss my Mama as well.

And the homework thing, I am working on it (and my patience). From scrap paper, showing work, actually letting go of the pencil and putting it in her hand, it’s a challenge for me. But, I am getting better – not good yet – but better.

And isn’t that all we can do — just get better as we go? Because real life is not doing everything well all the time just to post it on social media. Instead, it’s actually the comebacks of the not so well moments that truly make me feel like, just maybe, there are some things that I actually might be doing well.

Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her daughters and writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.