I’m jiggling the 4-month-old grand baby up and down on my hip. Her fussing turns to hollers. I watch her two-and-a-half year old brother try to dump the giant (glass) bottle of pickles into the ice bucket. Husband is wrapping a towel around the fussing baby’s 15-month-old cousin and, while attempting to wrestle the pickle jar from reluctant little fingers, I am wondering if anybody is watching the 4 year old.
Welcome to our glamorous Hawaii vacation.
It is the last day before our children, along with their children, leave the island so that my husband and I can have a few days alone to have a vacation from our vacation. They all fly out the Friday of Mother’s Day weekend.
A few hours later the social media posts about “the-best-and-perfect-mothers-in-the-world” start.
I am not one of these.
I do not have a secret superhero cape in my closet. Instead, I live in a world where I slip flat on my butt in the baby pool and the expensive, umbrella laden drink I was trying to elegantly sip fills up with chlorine and who-knows-what-else?
I live in a world where grandchildren have glorious meltdowns in public and their parents get mad at us and at each other and mostly at themselves for getting mad in the first place.
I live in a world where mama piles multiple little legs and arms out of the minivan along with beach chairs and umbrellas and towels and I lose one of the children. My only job is to keep a head count so I frantically call him and search for him behind this islands crazy large-leafed plants only to have the valet parking guy (who we are not using) tell us the child is still in the van.
I live in a world where the one-and-a-bit year old pees against the villa’s beautiful coffee table the moment you take his diaper off. Aunt wipes it up with the resort’s fluffy beach towel because his mom is busy placating said-aunt’s two-year old with pickles because that’s all he seems to want to eat right now.
My motherhood has been filled with hollering children and full-out lay on your back and kick your feet two-year-old tantrums. It is also filled with those same two year olds now 30-something year old parents avoiding eye contact with everybody else at the pool because their own children behave just like tired toddlers the world over.
My world is filled with half-made sandcastles and sunburned shoulders where we missed a spot of sunblock. It is made of melting ice cream and sand in your eyes and four year olds clinging to your leg because he is terrified of the giant turtle swimming in the baby waves a few feet from him.
My world is also filled with moments where the babies are all quietly in their beds and husband says to parents of sleeping children how very blessed we are to have them vacation with us. Where conversations under nighttime skies fill my heart with gratitude and where grace and just-let-the-offense-go moments bind families together stronger than any Hallmark card ever can.
My motherhood is patched together with rollercoaster highs and gut wrenching lows and stunningly beautiful moments as well as howling perfect storms. My motherhood has absolutely no red cape fluttering in the wind while I pose, chest-out, always knowing what to do next.
I live in a world where every member of my family comes with pre-existing conditions that make us difficult to live with as well as insanely loved exactly because we are not perfect.
I live in a world where Mother’s Day – and every other day – is lob sided and skew and pieces have been chipped off through wear and tear. I live in a world where my biggest daily task is to offer grace because I have been offered the greatest gift of grace by the only Perfect Parent.
I suspect you live in this world too.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” -Ephesians 2:8-9