I have started, deleted, and restarted today's blog three times. It isn't so much that I don't have anything to write about as it is that I am absolutely exhausted. I spent most of last week too sick to function and now I'm flying solo while my husband is away for training course. Not to mention the fact that, while both kids now sleep through the night, daylight savings has thrown the baby off and he's waking up at 4 am now instead of 7.
Guys, parenting is hard. It's so hard. And exhausting. And frustrating. And glorious. It's so many things. Too many things. So why are we so hard on each other? Why are we so judgmental of one another and how we each choose to raise our children? Your may not struggle in exactly the same way I do, but I know you still struggle. So why is it so easy to make snide remarks and so difficult to have some grace?
We've all heard the saying "you never know the battle someone else is fighting." We've all heard it, but how many of us really give a crap? I was sitting in the waiting room of my toddler's speech therapist and a couple of the other moms were discussing how much effort they put into their daily routine of getting dressed and whatnot. They were not shy to cast glances my way when they mentioned how they just throw on jeans and a t-shirt and don't see the point in spending a ton of time on makeup, because who are they trying to impress? There were so many small remarks made to insinuate that people who put a lot of time and energy into picking out an outfit and doing their hair and makeup are just trying to get attention and that's time better spent with your kids.
It wasn't some sort of life-altering heartbreak that I felt in that moment, but there was definitely still pain. Yes, I do choose to spend time getting dressed. Yes, I do choose to do my hair, usually in semi-elaborate braids. Yes, I do choose to put a lot of effort into my makeup. But no, I don't do all that because I want men to notice me or women to envy me. I do it for myself. I do it because I just came out of the darkest place I have ever been, where I spent months and months neglecting myself. I do it because, after finally getting the courage to seek out help, I was put through an unnecessary and traumatic experience that left me feeling less that human, and dressing nice with full makeup and hair done up is part of my healing process from that trauma.
I enjoy feeling nice in that way, and that doesn't make me any less of a mother to my boys. Just like someone feeding their kid non-organic food doesn't make them negligent. Just like someone who chooses not to breastfeed doesn't love their child any less than someone who does. Just like someone doing anything differently than you do doesn't make them any less worthy of being a parent or any less worthy of being treated with kindness and respect.
You don't have to agree with someone to respect them. You don't even have to like them. I have a more strict, old-school approach to parenting than most people nowadays, and I get irritated with a lot of the behaviors I see in most kids I come across, but them acting differently than how I prefer kids to act doesn't mean those kids are bad kids or those parents are bad parents. They're just different from me, and that is absolutely ok.
If you've been keeping up with the blog over the past month, you've probably noticed I'm a HUGE fan of grace. I can go on for hours about how being gracious can change your life. Being gracious can change the world. I truly believe that. This won't be the last time you hear me talk about how important showing grace to other people is, and I hope it's something that becomes impactful and important enough to every single person who reads the blog that you all start practicing and promoting it. Because, seriously, we all need a little grace from time to time.