I am nailing it as a mom this week. Our fridge is empty. The pantry is a joke. My kids have eaten ramen for breakfast and lunch three days in a row. And I am not exaggerating.
My seven-year-old doesn’t even bother to cook the noodles anymore. He just pours the seasoning packet on top of the dry hunk of ramen then walks around munching and dribbling chicken-flavored powder and crumbs all over the place. Yesterday I wondered if I could make a meal out of the broken noodles spread across my unvacuumed floors. I am thinking I could.
Most parents wait until the end of the school year to flunk out on lunches. I decided there’s no time like the present. Why create high expectations with a sandwich when you can set the bar nice and low by handing over a bag of ramen you just swept off the floor?
I am not the first mom who has found herself with an empty pantry thanks to a maddeningly busy season. Between sports practice, work, running our oldest between the State Fair, bus stops and home, meetings, orientations and deadlines, we are just trying to survive over here. The problem is, my kids still need to eat. And we are out of ramen.
Last night, while sitting through our homeschool co-op orientation, my mind toggled between looming work deadlines and wondering what my daughter could fashion into a lunch for school the next day. Stale saltines and peanut butter? A can of black beans? Expired baby carrots? Some kids survive on worse.
Lost in my thoughts, my eye fell upon the refreshments table. I mused that I hadn’t even brought my required contribution for the spread. Some moms would politely abstain from a feast they didn’t contribute to. I doubled down.
In flash of divine inspiration, I grabbed my son’s arm and hissed, “Go grab a bunch of grapes from the snack table for G’s lunch.” My son didn’t bat an eye as he obediently filled a cup with grapes and handed them over. I considered going back for some veggies and a rice krispy treat, but I decided not to be greedy about it.
I’m not sure what was more indicative of a parenting infraction, the fact that I kiped lunch snacks from a church social or that my son didn’t find it strange. Either way, I can’t bring myself to feel guilty. Because we all are doing our best as moms. Sometimes we hit home runs and other times we pilfer food from churches. It is just how it is.
Once upon a time, I nearly killed myself with the pursuit of perfection. Invitations & thank-you notes were hand-made, screen time was nil, processed food never passed the children’s lips and the house stayed neat as a pin. I read the exact number of books to the kids that the experts recommended and they never missed a bath or a nap. And if I dropped any of the balls I was juggling, I’d beat myself up about it.
I don’t know who that person is anymore, and I feel sorry for her sometimes. Because if I have learned anything in all my years of parenting, I’ve learned this: you have to give yourself grace.
I wish I could wrap my arms around all of you moms out there who feel like you are drowning. I’d tell you that you don’t have to be perfect. You are allowed to drop the ball now and again. You can take breaks from having it all together and everyone will live to tell.
Breathe. Rest. Eat some ramen off the floor. And just keep showing up for those kids you love so much. They see that you are trying your best and so do the rest of us. We just don’t say it to each-other as often as we should.
And if you are ever feeling like you’re failing as a mom, just tell yourself this: “At least I didn’t steal my kid’s lunch from a church.” You’re welcome.