I just needed new tires.
My hope was to slide into Costco on time for our appointment, drop the car at the Tire Center, and take care of a few errands in the adjacent mall while we waited. This was my best-laid plan, and yes, with a not-so-cordial nod to Robert Burns and John Steinbeck, I hereby admit it went horribly awry.
The kids fought on the car ride up. I took the express lanes instead of the main highway only to discover there was no exit to the mall. I arrived 15 minutes late to the appointment with a purse full of water bottles, purple paint in my hair, and three children teetering on the edge of hangry.
We made it to the first store — an outlet.
We navigated the aisles — a crowded mess.
I began to see the first signs of my middle child’s obsessive-compulsive and anxiety disorders ramping up for an in-store meltdown.
And that’s when I made a tactical error: I asked my daughter to wait just a moment before we found a place to wash her hands.
I won’t go into the details, but I will say it was difficult. All my training and research on raising a bright, sensitive child with OCD went out the window.
My clothes were askew. The four-year-old pushed my cart into a furniture display. The eight-year-old had a heavy hand on the creating-a-scene-o-meter. And I knew — just knew — everyone around me would label me the hot mess mom.
Cue the not-so-kind reminder to Cut. It. Out. and a frantic trek to the front of the store. We made it to the checkout and scanned all our items only to discover I didn’t actually have my wallet.
I had left it in the pool bag from our ill-fated, rained-out pool trip the day before.
And now, not only could I not pay for my carefully curated HomeGoods – I had no way to feed my still-waiting-for-the-Tire-Center, emotionally distraught and hangry kids.
The Hot Mess Myth
When you first find out you’re pregnant, you read all the birth and parenting books. But nowhere in those storied tomes does it say there will be days when you feel like the reincarnation of Charles Schulz’s Pig-Pen.
Except instead of dust flying off of you, there’s sweat, oatmeal stains, and kids.
They gloss over the not-so-pretty parts and seem to conveniently leave out any discussion of the experiences every mother will have.
The meltdowns in the candy aisle.
The hasty exits out the door.
The realizations that you somehow got home without the stroller or your wallet or, heaven forbid, one of the children.
They just wait for you to discover the hot mess phenomenon on your own.
But here’s the truth behind that hot mess feeling – it is absolutely not from God. Your motherhood cannot — should not — be relegated to a derogatory phrase that evokes images of broken crayons melting on the sidewalk (and that’s on the mild side).
Those chaotic moments that leave you feeling helpless, hopeless, hapless, and harried? They are miniature seasons in no way indicative of your worth as a mother.
Your motherhood is sanctifying and holy. Why are you doubting yourself?
St. John Paul the Great says your motherhood is transformative:
Motherhood implies from the beginning a special openness to the new person: and this is precisely the woman’s “part.” In this openness, in conceiving and giving birth to a child, the woman “discovers herself through a sincere gift of self.” (emphasis mine)
Blessed Fulton Sheen reminds you of the way your motherhood bestows the gift of life:
Most of us love a non-self, or something extrinsic and apart from our inner life; but a mother’s love during the time she is a flesh-and-blood ciborium is not for a non-self but for one that is her very self, a perfect example of charity and love which hardly perceives a separation. Motherhood then becomes a kind of priesthood. She brings God to man by preparing the flesh in which the soul will be implanted; she brings man to God in offering the child back again to the Creator.
St. Josemaría Escrivá knows your motherhood makes a difference:
The mother is the one with the more delicate hands for putting the last touches to the clay.
Venerable Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty knows your motherhood is powerful:
The Most Important Person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral — a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby’s body … The angels have not been blessed with such a grace. They cannot share in God’s creative miracle to bring new saints to Heaven. Only a human mother can. Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other creature; God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation … What on God’s good earth is more glorious?
Why are you doubting your abilities, my sister, when your motherhood’s the image and likeness of Christ?
We did end up getting the tires. My husband came to rescue us on his valiant Subaru steed. He fed the kids, picked the paint out of my hair, and told me I was a fantastic mother.
And now I’m passing that message on to you, my maternal compatriot.
You are not a hot mess — not in the slightest.
You are a fantastic mom.
Copyright 2019 Ginny Kochis