You’re looking at my two favorite pieces of art my kids have ever done.
These are my favorite because I love imperfection. Inappropriate things make me really happy. If I meet another mom who reaches into her purse for a pen and instead pulls out a tampon with a half-eaten Tootsie Pop and a hair band stuck to it, I know we’ll be instant friends.
Not because we can complain about how bad it is, but because we can commiserate about how good it is. How funny it all is.
I am a big believer in sharing the mistakes, comparing the messes, admitting my faults and laughing (sometimes crying) about it all.
A friend and art director partner of mine has four kids. FOUR. Whenever we work together, we spend a lot of time sharing stories. Mostly about how, with the help of our husbands and friends and families, we’re barely holding it all together. Her stories trump mine every time (she has twice as many everythings, afterall.) But we both take solace in hearing that we’re all in this together, each doing the best we can. It’s not a competition, it’s a club.
I love my kids (duh.) And I am left breathless by their beauty and sweetness and budding talents almost every day. But you’ll rarely hear me talk about it.
Because I’d much rather laugh about my daughter’s horrible meltdown at the Halloween party. Or describe the adorable way my son sucks at karate.
The beauty is in the imperfection. The stories are in the screw-ups.
This is why I grow so tired in my job of advertisers worrying about portraying parenthood as negative. Of clients insisting we round the corners on the truth, concerned about alienating moms because we’re reminding them of the chaos in their own lives. Newsflash: THE CHAOS IS REAL. And if we embrace it, laugh about it and move on, we’ve shown that we understand what it’s really like to be a parent.
Aspirational is a popular word. “Don’t show the reality, show what moms aspire to be
Nope, sorry. Calling BS on that one. Because I will never be, nor aspire to be, that mom with no clutter on the counter of my unnaturally clean house and perfect hair and no visible panty lines who smiles in utter delight when she opens her dryer to see her kid has thrown a pack of crayons into it.
In reality, I would LOSE MY SHIT if my kid threw a pack of crayons into the dryer. Even in the name of “science.” But after I calmed down and used a lot of stain remover, I would begin sharing the story. With everyone I knew. And it would probably spark an even better story from my friend about how her son finger-painted his nursery room wall … with poop. Or how my other friend’s daughter built her entire first grade project out of champagne corks and cages, cause there just happened to be a lot of them lying around.
I don’t want to hear stories of perfection. Good for you, if you have them, but what I really want to hear about is how you spilled breast milk on your male coworker. Or how your 4-year-old walked in on you and your husband, and you told her you were “wrestling.” Tell me about how you burst into tears after dropping your son off at preschool this morning, because you’d yelled at him for picking up gum off the sidewalk and you haven’t slept well for 3 nights and you think the cat may have peed on the jeans you’re wearing because you haven’t had time to clean the litter box. I will laugh and cry and commiserate with you every time.
Cause that stuff is the best. The imperfect moments are the best.