As women, we tend to put so much pressure on ourselves. We want to be perfect, to do it all, to remember everything. What happens when we teeter off the pedestal we've built?
Saturday mornings in my house look like the usual weekday chaos, if you replace packing lunches and snacks with packing dance shoes – and add "the 6th day of getting up early" grumpiness. Get up, brush teeth, wash face, get dressed, eat breakfast, make beds, do hair and fly out the door.
But, this past Saturday morning was – dare I say – easy. My two girls were up without a fuss, the bickering was at an all-time low and I had time to do more than quickly refresh the makeup I inevitably forgot to wash off my face the night before. Knowing there were activities in the center of town that would slow us down, we left for the dance studio a little early.
I thought it was strange there were no parking spaces in the parking lot. But the dreaded, "OMG, I am the worst mom ever," sinking feeling didn't hit until I walked through the dance studio doors and realized it was picture day. My youngest child had no tights, no costumes, no perfect little bun and I had no time.
Leaving the girls in the care of the staff and other parents, I flew home to grab all the necessary items from the million random places they were stashed throughout the house. And I say "flew," because what normally would have taken me 20 minutes, took me 45 minutes. All the yard sale shoppers I was smiling at before were now immovable obstacles. The runners whose speed and endurance I was cheering on were now slow as sloths in the way of my self-imposed pity train.
Sweaty, on the verge of tears and angry with myself, I ran into the studio. I missed them. Two out of the three group dance pictures were already done. My dance mom friends, unaware of the past hour's activity, asked if I was okay. The heat leapt into my face, the tears started to spill.
As my face crumbled, these women – this amazing little community – jumped into action. One mom had already bundled my kiddo’s hair into a bun and gotten tights on her. The other moms got her into her costume while feeding her and my other kiddo snacks from the vending machine. Another mom rounded up the kids in her class to get a group picture redo. I quietly melted down, explaining through my tears how incredibly frustrated and sad I was.
My point is we put so much pressure on ourselves. Pressure to be perfect, to do it all, to remember everything. As Oprah once said, “You can have it all. Just not at the same time.” We set these impossibly high expectations for ourselves and then, beat ourselves up when we teeter off the pedestal we’ve built.
In this situation, these women participated in a revolutionary act.
By providing sanctuary, they expressed love in place of scorn; they recognized my humanness instead of passing judgement. The grace I struggle to show myself was given freely and without condition. They offered belonging – a building block of community. In the end, my girls had their picture day, those images a tangible reminder of the gift we were given.
The question I ask you is how will you help create community that provides camaraderie and inclusion, celebrates diversity and humanity and creates sanctuary?