Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Food Processor or a Stylish Coat

(I have been amazed at the comments I received privately from my post about breastfeeding and/or the guilt that comes along with it. A lesson to us all about the greater need for unconditional support of fellow mothers... But I will say I still have a tendency to judge those sharing a family bed....)

Anyway... on a lighter note here's an article that you can read below or HERE or HERE.
Have a great loooong weekend.

I have a dear friend, twelve years younger than me, three kids less, probably 40 pounds lighter, and with a far more stylish wardrobe than I could ever hope to have. Her first child and my fifth child are only days apart. You can imagine what that means can’t you? Her child has always been dressed to the nines. Even as a young baby he was dressed from head to toe in stylish, name brand clothes while my baby was lucky to have an unstained onesie on. Now as almost three year olds, mine is barely ever seen in more than a diaper and hers (of course potty trained) is for the most part always immaculately dressed.

Just the other morning this dear friend dropped her children off at my house for a couple of hours. Her two little boys' darling matching outfits immediately caught my attention. Of course I couldn't help noticing her cute shoes and fashionable coat as she hurried and ran off to her car. A few minutes later as I snuggled with her one year old on the couch, I smiled as I looked at his cute little hair-gelled just so into place. I glanced over at my youngest child prancing around the family room in just a diaper and smiled as I realized that in his almost three years of life, I don't think I have ever touched a comb to his hair!! (Did I really just admit that? I will say though that we keep his hair pretty short. Good save.)

As I listened to my friend's almost three year old begin jabbering about what toys my little boy recently received for Christmas, my immediate, almost natural thought was, "Why does he speak so much better than my little guy? Then just as quickly as that thought began, I stopped it. You see I've learned to do that over the years. Everyone and everything is different. And that is OKAY!

I couldn't help but think back to my younger self. The mother I was eight years and three kids ago. I remember distinctly my two little pre-schoolers walking up the sidewalk hand in hand and a neighbor saying to me, "Your children always look so clean and put together. They are darling." I smiled proudly and remember inwardly complimenting myself that my children looked nothing like another neighbor with a few more kids than mine who rarely had a clean face or clean (or matching) clothes on!

The other day, as I continued to snuggle with this stylish little neighbor boy on the couch I began to laugh out loud. Eight years and three more kids later I am that other neighbor! And guess what? I'm okay with that. Why wash a face if they are going to get thrown in the tub in a few hours? Why fight about un-matching clothes when you'd much rather fight about brushing teeth? Why worry about the odd nose dripping snot when you know soon it will come in contact with a shirt sleeve? (I may or may not be slightly exaggerating!)

My little memory lane trip while I sat on the couch continued as I positively compared myself to my younger friend. I realized that had I been friends with this now dear friend 10-12 years ago I would have felt insecure and frumpy. I would have envied her life and begrudged my own. But oh the wisdom almost 13 years of motherhood have given me!!

My friend are I are completely different. We are in varying stages of our lives. While she juggles two young toddlers at home I send four children off to three different schools on an almost daily basis. When I see her children's grandparents stop by almost daily to shower them with time and gifts, I am reminded that my children have lots of cousins to share grandparents with. When I thought about the fashionable rust colored coat she was wearing minutes before, I remembered it was a gift she received a couple of weeks ago for Christmas while I was receiving a food processor that I desperately wanted.

Ahh! The wisdom of years. I couldn't help but smile from my perch on the couch as I looked at our two little boys playing side-by-side together. Neither of them caring a whit that one was dressed in name-brands from head to toe, and one of them was wearing a generic store-brand diaper. I basked in the glorious moment that I could readily acknowledge "This is my life. My family, my children, my choices, my consequences and I love it."  In that moment I wished desperately for every mother in the world to have that same contentment and acceptance of their friends and themselves.

I'm reminded of this quote from Anna Quindlen: "The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself."

Not that we're all necessarily trying to be perfect, but too often we are not working on becoming ourselves! Now don't get me wrong. I have not perfectly mastered this concept myself. There are certainly days I get wrapped up in desires for a perfectly toned body, a calm and even temperament, a new wardrobe, or a well decorated house like this friend or that friend. To say I was content all of the time would be a lie.

What I am beginning to master though is the concept of  looking beyond the differences between me and another to see the reasons behind them. When that happens it is easy to see that the differences are often just that!  They're just differences! Kind of like a fashionable coat or a food processor? Neither one is better. It all depends what they are being used for, right?

What a glorious thing to be able to see differences and accept them. What a glorious thing when we can take that one step further and accept ourselves.

I wouldn't trade that wisdom for anything.
Even for a stylish coat.


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