The alarm is going off. It’s 7 a.m., but I feel like I just went to bed. I fell asleep again without washing my face. My mascara-stained pillow cover and sheets haven’t been changed in over a week, there are several cans of seltzer on my nightstand and my tattered, decades-old flannels with a hole in the knee are all bunched up. It’s a familiar scene, one I’ve been playing out for years. But I’m no longer a teen or young twenty-something; I’m nearly 40, married and a mother of two kids—so can someone please tell me why I still live like a college co-ed?
I thought for sure by now, I’d be further along in my evolution. I’m writing this when I should be paying bills, prepping meals, grocery shopping, picking up around the house and maintaining a proper home. Instead, there’s unfolded laundry in two separate baskets and more on the floor, stacks of collected crap (mail, forms, flyers, even excess artwork that, yes, I just called crap) that remain unsorted and, when the cleaning ladies occasionally come over, get shoved into a bag, which proceeds like unpacked suitcases to sit there for far too long. The fridge is sparse, the car likely needs gas and I’m usually outfitted in sweats and fuzzy socks, sporting a top knot and glasses. This is hardly how I envisioned my life looking as a full-grown adult woman.
I’ve checked plenty of things off my life list: I’ve achieved a lot in my career; own a nice home; carried, birthed and have thus far managed to raise two healthy, pediatrician-approved kids and am a (mostly) functioning member of society. By all outward appearances, I’ve done well.
So why do I feel like such a hot mess all the time? Where is the mature, ladylike version of me that was supposed to show up by now? The one who washes and blows out her hair, wears structured, sophisticated clothing—or at least something without an elastic waistband. The one who keeps a calendar and remembers to check it, whose thank you notes are sent on schedule and who has proper snacks to serve should guests drop by. (Goldfish don’t count. Unless, of course, it’s my meal accompanied by a glass of white wine, in which case, sign me up!) The one who isn’t constantly wondering what to make for dinner and, all too often, giving up and ordering instead. The one who swears she’ll do better, get it together and give her kids the mother they deserve.
But just when I’m starting to really come down on myself and my wayward ways, I look around, past the piles and beyond the clutter, and I see the smiles on my children’s faces. I witness the joy in their life, the kindness in their hearts and appreciate their ability to be carefree and feel safe and think I’m doing alright.
Maybe none of that other stuff matters. Maybe no one feels like they have it all together. Maybe my kids will remember a home full of laughter, one where you come—and stay—as you are and you’re loved just the same. Here’s hoping, anyway. At the very least, I’m giving my daughter and son something to write about. Here’s to the messy moms and the kids who love them!
Natalie Thomas is a lifestyle blogger at Nat's Next Adventure and creator of the new moms platform @momecdotes. She's also an Emmy-nominated TV producer, contributor to Huffington Post, Today Show, Mother Mag, Hey Mama and Well Rounded, and former editor and spokesperson of Us Weekly. She's addicted to Instagram and seltzer water, lives in New York with her tolerant husband, Zach, her daughter Lilly and her son, Oliver. She's always in search of her sanity and, more importantly, the next adventure.
Published October 2018