These days, with a toddler and twin babies in the house, having people over to visit is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s nice to have company, but on the other hand, it’s a little bit stressful inviting people into my home to witness the disarray that abounds. Thankfully, most, if not all, of my friends are not only sympathetic, but completely non-judgmental. And some of their homes don’t look much better than mine. But while I’m blessed to have so many nice, understanding people in my life, when it comes to parenting I tend to be my own worst enemy and harshest critic—so much so that I can rarely accept a compliment without glossing over it or dismissing it completely.
And that’s why I’m still reeling, in a good way, over something a relatively new mom friend said to me just the other day. I’d invited her over for a play date with her young son, and after observing the chaos that is my daily existence for just a couple of hours, she said something so honest and spot-on that I can’t stop thinking about it.
“Wow,” she said as she watched me comfort one of my twin infant daughters while nursing the other and simultaneously helping my toddler look for a missing piece to one of his puzzles. “I can tell you’re trying so hard.”
That was it: “You’re trying so hard.”
Not: “You’re doing a great job.”
Not: “Wow, you’ve really got your #%^& together.” Because clearly, I don’t.
After all, she spent the better part of the morning watching me toggle between two screaming infants and a toddler who refused to listen when I insisted he stop running for fear of him falling and possibly tripping over said infants. When I opened my fridge to offer her and her son lunch, I had a mere three slices of bread left along with some very-soon-to-be-expired cheese and a couple of random Greek yogurts.
When she arrived, my house was messy. Toys were everywhere. My hallway was littered with drying racks where my kids’ temporarily clean clothing lay hanging. Nothing was in order. And she knew it. But she didn’t try to pretend that the situation was anything other than chaotic. And I really appreciated it.
Ever since having my twins back in January, I’ve had friends say things like, “Wow, I don’t know how you do it all,” but in reality, I’m not doing it all. I’m neglecting many, many things—cooking, cleaning, phone calls to family and friends—because there simply isn’t enough time. I’m trying really hard to give my kids the attention they need, even if it means letting the laundry pile up or foregoing freelance assignments I’d otherwise be inclined to jump on. And I’d rather acknowledge my circumstances and limitations rather than set unrealistic expectations that can only end up making me, and potentially other mom friends, feel inadequate. I’d rather tell it like it is.
So to my kind, honest friend who knew how to keep it real: Thank you for not sugar coating the chaos. Thank you for embracing it with me. I’m not coming close to doing it all, but I’m trying my best. And hopefully that’s good enough.