That Time I Had a Cat Fight with Myself at the Grocery Store. And Won.

By September 2, 2013Get Inspired

I was wrong.

I thought something magical would happen the first time all my kids went off to school. Something magical involving rainbows, unicorns and little elves that would keep my toilets clean, bake cookies, stay on top of school activities and help manage ALL. THE. PAPERS.

(Sidenote: Elementary school paperwork = global deforestation. I’m pretty sure 5,026 acres of the Amazon jungle came home in my kids backpacks last year.)

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But it’s been a whole week and a half into the school year and there are still dirty dishes in my sink, processed food in my pantry, and a pile of papers on my desk.

The full reality of my imperfection hit me when I was at the grocery store on Friday. I was buying things to pack in my kids lunches (I need an elf for that too…) and my fictional perfect mom self stepped outside of my real mom self and wagged her finger at me about how I should be baking fresh bread for their lunches, never use baggies and pack more beets, because beets are healthy.

I don’t think there was a rainbow involved, but, for once, my real mom self stood up to my mean girl perfect mom self, looked her square in the eyes and said, “I don’t need to be THE best, I just need to be MY best. I’m doing that, so back off.”

I grabbed my plastic bags, packaged carrots, processed bread and walked away with my head held high.

I’m pretty sure all the other moms in the produce department broke out into the slow clap.

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The most freeing thing I’ve done in a long time is to make a conscience choice to only compare myself to myself and not to that mean girl perfect mom voice that always talks down to me.

I like to think of David and Goliath. Being a perfect mom seems overwhelming and unconquerable. And, frankly, in my own strength it is.

But God is my perfection. My job is to follow Him trust Him, and give Him all of me. When I do, He never leaves me as I am. He changes me, molds me and makes me more like Him.

He helps boys slay giants and regular moms, like me, shatter the mirage of the perfect mom.

Progress, not perfection, mamas.

{fist bump}

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31 Comments

  • Avatar Katie says:

    LOVE this. It goes perfectly with the things God has been showing me lately. Thanks, as always, for your encouragement and your ministry, Kat!

  • Avatar Kendra says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this!! Thanks for the reminder as I was looking around thinking of everything I haven’t done since the boys went back to school last week. I don’t want them to see a slacker but I don’t want them to see someone attempting perfection either. Thanks Kat. 🙂

  • Avatar Missy says:

    Kat – THANK YOU! This post is timely and needed and oh… yes. As All The Trees That Died last week in our children’s backpacks, we held a vigil, ourselves.

  • Avatar Shari says:

    I’m in tears. I needed to hear this RIGHT NOW. Just week two of school and every bad attitude in my children has arisen. Then all I can think of is HOW IN THE WORLD do I keep a relatively clean home, wash clothes, cook, shop, AND school????? I’d LOVE a break from my job but I LIVE HERE!!!!!

    I’m completely overwhelmed and in tears today. And after reading this, I’m going to focus on being MY best. Thank you!!

    His,
    Shari

  • Avatar Robin E. says:

    I so needed to hear this. My perfectionism is really overwhelming me. I am overwhelming myself. But this:

    “I like to think of David and Goliath. Being a perfect mom seems overwhelming and unconquerable. And, frankly, in my own strength it is. But God is my perfection. My job is to follow Him trust Him, and give Him all of me. When I do, He never leaves me as I am. He changes me, molds me and makes me more like Him. He helps boys slay giants and regular moms, like me, shatter the mirage of the perfect mom.”

    That can be a game changer for me. I am going to keep my eyes on Him so I don’t drown in my sea of perfectionism. Thank you, Kat!

  • Avatar Cori says:

    Love this! I have been battling perfectionism my whole life, and it’s ugly side effect of comparison. Ugh. Thanks for the reminder to just be my best!

  • Avatar Joyce says:

    “Progress, not perfection, mamas.”

    Amen!

  • Kat, your encouragement, again, is so appreciated. God has recently shown me there are too many voices in my head (umm, not in a crazy way) vying for my attention and leading my thoughts. I’ve been intentionally removing distractions and putting my focus on turning to him and his wisdom. There is such a burden lifted when we stop the comparing and live by God’s leading. All the trivial things fall by the wayside in light of that.

  • Avatar Meghan says:

    Absolutely awesome post! I loved it. Thanks so much!

  • Avatar Dawn says:

    I struggle with being the “perfect” mom a lot of the times…it doesn’t help that I am a perfectionist. Thanks for the reminder that He is PERFECT and I don’t need to be. 🙂 Never thought my babysitter would be such a fabulous encourager!

  • Avatar brittnie says:

    I love the idea of only comparing ourselves to ourselves. Sounds so simple but can be oh so hard to do. Thanks for this post!

  • Avatar lauren says:

    Great post! Such an encouragement to me. Since I work out of the home part-time, I’m always feeling guilty for some of the same things you mentioned. But you’re right…they dont need a perfect mom! Also…I may hsve read the title of your post a little too quickly and thought you got into a fight with an actual cat! Glad that didnt happen 🙂

  • Avatar SJ says:

    I feel like I should write this on my hand and that way I might remember to tell it to myself every time my own inner wannabe perfectionist pops up. Amen to not baking your own bread because that doesn’t make you a failure! Thanks for the words of wisdom today. I NEEDED THEM!

  • Avatar lindley says:

    I know this and I believe this, but OH my stars, I sure needed to remember this today! Awesome encouragement, Kat! Thanks!!!

  • Avatar Jen says:

    Thank you! I so needed to hear this today!

  • Avatar Ty R says:

    Yes! Encouragement at the perfect time! This is my first year with 3 out of 4 kids going to school and I started a new part time job as Kid Min Director for a church plant. Thanks for the great reminder that God desires that we give our best and stop comparing.

  • Avatar Erin says:

    Wow! I think my real mom self needs to stand up to my mean girl perfect mom too! Every single night I lay in bed chastising myself for all the things that I didn’t know that I felt that I should have done, whether it be to get on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor to feeling bad for using the bread machine while I studied. I am a wife, homeschooling mom, and a full time college student. I know I “should” cut myself a break but unfortunately I don’t. I lost my 4.0 this past summer (to University Physics no less) and felt that I completely let everyone down. Time for a little talk with myself I think! LOL

  • Avatar Erin says:

    Wow! I think my real mom self needs to stand up to my mean girl perfect mom too! Every single night I lay in bed chastising myself for all the things that I didn’t know that I felt that I should have done, whether it be to get on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor to feeling bad for using the bread machine while I studied. I am a wife, homeschooling mom, and a full time college student. I know I “should” cut myself a break but unfortunately I don’t. I lost my 4.0 this past summer (to University Physics no less) and felt that I completely let everyone down. Time for a little talk with myself I think! LOL

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Wow. You have a lot on your plate. Jon Acuff calls it critics math. We can hear a million compliments, but we only remember the one critic. I think it’s like that with our self talk, too. We migh t do 1,000 things well, but we only notice the 1 thing we don’t do perfectly. If it encourages you at all. I’ve not once been asked about my (less than stellar) GPA since I graduated. 🙂 Sounds like you’re giving your all. Well done!

  • Avatar Suzy Quick says:

    As a working mom of four this is a feeling I know all too well. You have given us an excellent reminder that we are perfect in our imperfections. And all our kids want from us is our best, not someone else’s.

  • Avatar De Arn says:

    With tears in my eyes I write to say “Thank You!” My 3 kids (11, 6 & 4) started school for the first time 7 weeks ago (we’re in Australia so our school year runs Feb to Dec, but my kids started half way through the school year after homeschooling for the past 6 years). I have been having the same feelings & had put the same expectations on myself to do all “this extra stuff” with all “the extra time” I would have now the kids are in school… HA! I’ve never been so busy in all my life! Of the hundreds of ideas I Pinned for Packed Lunches, I have only used one (scratching a love note message in the banana skin to turn brown by lunch) because I haven’t had time to even look back at what the other ideas were & it was the only one I could remember!…Let alone all the home baking & spring cleaning I was going to get done! Thank you for being so transparent with your journey. It helps to be reminded we are not on the trail alone.

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  • Avatar martha brady says:

    when i hear the standards expected of moms these days, i cringe! my children are mostly in their 40’s now so that gives you an idea of when we were raising our family.

    before the days of required car seats and the myriads of safety paraphanalia. before all the warnings that make your head dizzy. b/f the internet and all the information and misinformation that one must wade through. b/f all the natural health food that is supposed to be able to protect our children and make them healthier. b/f all the computer games that keep them mired to their seats. b/f all the moms felt they HAD to homeschool their kids. Surprisingly, our kids not only grew up, but they ended up with some common sense to boot!

    all that to say, i’m not sure kids and families are any better off now. we’re so busy being safe and perfect that we don’t have time to sit back and enjoy each other!

    keep talking back to that perfect voice in your head! perfect isn’t for living and breathing people. it is for robots. i’m convinced.

    PS. when i heard that we shouldn’t be using plastic bags, i just had to laugh! come on. let’s get real!

    • Avatar Shari says:

      Dear Martha,
      Please know that not all moms feel we HAVE to homeschool. I do it because The Lord told me to do it.

      • Avatar martha brady says:

        that was not meant to be a slam against homeschooling moms. there are many who do it as a calling like you. however, there are many others who do it under duress and it is added this huge list of obligations that they feel are required for them to be a “best” mom when it is more than they can do as a good mom.

        i was merely responding to the topic of the post. i have a huge concern for all the obligations moms are taking upon themselves as requirements. i look at them all burdened down and wonder how many of their burdens relate more to the desire…not always ones they are aware of, to please others, to do what seems to be the right thing for their kids, etc when they are so worn out that they can’t enjoy their children and family.

  • Avatar Jackie says:

    I totally relate to this post. I think when we know better we expect that we will always be able to do better. However, life and our endless to-do lists sometimes get in the way of what we want to be able to do for our families, especially when it comes to food. Thank you for sharing your struggle with this. I know I have a perfectionism issue and I love your advice to be MY best. Thanks so much!

  • Amen! As the 8 y.o. eats only the processed cheese food product from his sandwich and brings the homemade bread back because “it’s thick” (too dense). Sigh.