The other day someone asked me if I had ever tried paddle boarding.
I laughed to myself as I pictured what it would be like to try to stand my uncoordinated, clumsy self upright on a board while floating on the ocean with only my balance and a paddle to prevent me from being tossed into the water by a large wave.
No, I have never tried paddle boarding. Never.
But, as I woke the next morning and quickly ran through the ever growing to-do list in my mind, I started to wonder if maybe I have been paddle boarding but just didn't realize it.
Perhaps the act of trying to balance parenting, wifeing (let's pretend it's a real word), friending (another real word), working, home owning and all the other responsibilities that come with adulting, is a bit like balancing on a paddle board.
Some days I can barely even stand up on my paddle board, no matter how calm or still the water is that day and no matter how strong my paddle is at the time.
On those days, days when my 7 year old throws himself to the floor in a full-fledged tantrum because it is time to put his shoes on or days when I get into the car already late for work and realize that my low-tire pressure light is on, all I can do is float and let the waves and ocean guide me.
Some days I find the strength to stand with ease and I am suddenly an expert paddle boarder.
On those days I glide over the ocean's surface, making dinner, folding laundry, paying bills and shuttling my children to and from events on time like a pro. This paddle boarding thing sure feels like second nature on those days.
Some days I even find myself sitting comfortably on the board, my legs dangling playfully over the edge without a care.
On those days my children are happy and polite, my work responsibilities are up to date, my house is clean and my financial stress is low. These are the days when I wish I could freeze time and soak up all the laughter, love, light and pure joy I see around me.
But then, inevitably, the water changes, as it always does, without warning. Some days there is just too much weight on my shoulders. Flat tires. Sick children. Work emergencies. Sick pets. Health concerns. Broken washing machines. Suddenly I am seasick and just want to angrily cast aside my stupid paddle and board and give up. It's too much. It's too hard. I'm not built for paddle boarding.
The negative self talk gets louder. What was I thinking? Why is everyone else out there balancing so beautifully on their boards today? What is wrong with me?
On those days, all I can do is plunk myself down on my board, legs criss-crossed-applesauce and sit there, holding on to the board for dear life, hoping that tomorrow will be a better day.
But no matter what kind of day I’m having, the truth is that I’m not the only one out here paddle boarding my way through adulthood.
When I pick my eyes up and really look around me, I can see that I am surrounded by a sea of other paddle boarders. While some may be struggling, some may be making it look effortless, and some may be navigating treacherous waters, all of us can benefit from remembering that we are not completely alone.
Maybe today is a good day to reach out to some of your fellow paddle boarders - because it turns out there are a lot of us out here in the ocean of adulthood - just trying our best to balance and not fall off our boards.
I have a secret.
I play the piano and I’m not terrible at it.
But, most people in my life today have never heard me play. I don’t record myself. I don’t perform for others. I only play for myself. My boys have grown up hearing me play though and sometimes ask me to play.
Yesterday my family visited a large music store so my youngest could pick out a guitar for his birthday. My oldest and I wandered into the piano room and he asked me to play piano.
I instantly resisted: “No. People will hear me. I haven’t played in a while.”
Then my 14 year old said to me what I often say to my clients when their inner critic creeps in: “so what?”
What’s the worst that could happen?
How bad could it actually be?
And so I did it and I messed up but I had fun and I’m glad I let him push me out of my comfort zone.
When your inner critic steps in and tells you that you aren’t good enough, aren’t perfect enough, might make a mistake, might regret something, try asking yourself “so what?”
We all could be a bit more like this 14 year old who just sits down at a piano in public and plays because it makes him happy.
Hey mamas, I have a message for you.
You can’t do it all.
You can’t be perfect.
You are going to walk into a room and forget why you even entered it.
You are going to forget about a gymnastics class.
You are going to be late for your kid’s bus.
You are going to think you responded to that text but you actually didn’t.
And you know what, it will all still be ok.
You are human and the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Every day you wake up and hit the ground running because you have people that depend on you. Their needs and their wants fill your head each day on an endless loop. Most days fitting in a shower, brushing your teeth, or even peeing alone feels like a luxury.
And I promise you that all those Mamas you see on social media with their on point makeup, immaculately done hair, spit up free clothes, and gym fresh bodies are far from perfect too.
We all have our struggles.
We all have those things that keep us awake at night with dread and worry.
We all carry shame.
So let’s stop pretending that we can be perfect.
Let’s stop pressuring ourselves and each other to be perfect. Instead let’s meet in the middle with our beautiful imperfections and show each other and ourselves a bit more grace. Let’s remind each other that none of us are perfect. Let’s show each other our imperfections. Let’s talk about them and name them instead of feeling shameful about them and trying to hide them. Let’s light each other up with our realities instead of dimming each other with the heaviness of perfection.
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Parenting is one of life's greatest challenges and greatest rewards. Here we explore all aspects of parenting from pregnancy onward, highlighting both the struggles and the triumphs.