We returned from the zoo to find bananas. Everywhere. All over my daughter’s highchair. Smeared across the curtain to it’s left. And flaking off the wall directly behind it.
My mind flashed back to my single years, seven years ago. I couldn’t help but cry — and immediately call the friend in this story.
Seven years ago I found myself in a similar situation. I was babysitting a friend’s young son, and to my horror, I found my nightmare awaited me in the kitchen.
A white highchair sent my OCD-like tendencies into full swing. There it was in all of it’s ‘I don’t care what you think’ glory.
It was covered in crusty ravioli, cheerios, and some kind of sticky goo. I didn’t dare sit the little boy in it. I put him in a pack n’ play in front of the tv while I proceeded to clean the dirty thing.
And boy did I clean it. All the while, a single; childless; 18-year-old Rachel came up with all of the excuses why it was dirty — because of course, I ‘knew’ them.
These thoughts and others circled my mind as judgment mounted:
‘She has time to do her makeup and work out, but can’t clean this mess up…’
‘How can anyone live like this…’
‘This is disgusting…’
‘Is she blind? She definitely needs glasses…’
‘How could you miss something like this…’
‘It’s not like she has a real job, why wouldn’t someone make time to clean this up…’
‘How could anyone let their child sit in such horrendous filth?!…’
I know, it’s ugly. Actually, it’s disgusting. It makes me ill to think of it now. My heart was one big, heaping mess of judgmental ‘I will never be that kind of mother.’
This evening. I ate my words.
Today, my daughter’s highchair was filthy. Why? The answer is simple. And one I never thought of while I judged others:
I was busy making memories.
I neglected my home, because I was too ‘busy’ making memories with my little family.
And I don’t regret it. I don’t regret it one bit.
Houses are empty shells. Highchairs will need to be cleaned; and recleaned. Laundry will need to be done; and redone. Never allow your appearance, home, or even your child’s behavior to define you. Jesus Christ died so that He alone could determine and attribute your worth.
Forget the dishes and make time to be silly with your children. Leave the laundry and kiss your husband. Be thankful for the little messes in life — they remind us that we’re alive and still in need of Christ.
Mothers weren’t created to be God-almighty. Mothers were created to be daughters dependent on an almighty God. We were NEVER meant to do it on our own, or in our own strength. He is good. He is gracious. He is strong enough to be our strength. And in Him, motherhood is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Do not attempt it alone.
So go ahead and judge moms for their ‘highchairs’ and any other form their ‘failures’ may take on. Irregardless of what sparks your judgement — just know that you’ll most likely eat your words later — and be glad that you did — because you were too busy making memories to be perfect.
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part.” Matthew 7:1-5