Each week the Honey newsletter includes a column from women and LGBTQ folks in the South, in collaboration with See Jane Write. This month it’s all about bodies and how they’ve carried us and helped us tell our stories. We’re always looking for more stories from you. Click here to learn more about how to get published.
By Erin Perkins
Wikipedia defines “Type A” personality with phrases like “rigidly organized” and “concerned with time management.” These are folks who are often “high-achieving ‘workaholics.’” I have seen my good friend, a mom of twins, unbuckle and place both of her babies into their stroller, fully ready, five whole minutes before I was able to get my one child out and into her stroller. This is not an isolated occurrence, but rather a very common example of the difference between me and other moms. You know the infomercials that used to be on late, starring fumbling people in black and white; the people they show before the problem is solved, who somehow drop everything and fall over? That’s me. I am type “C” personality, which I define with phrases like, “struggles to organize,” “consistently fails to manage time,” and “not a workaholic.”
Because my ambition ebbs and flows from doing nothing at all to doing everything at once, being the last car at carpool as a first-year elementary school mom was not a surprise to me. Thankfully, my son still naps and gives me a valid excuse for why I am late, but he’s not honestly the reason. It’s this type “C” personality of mine. I find myself daydreaming of well-oiled machines. I wonder, with awe, how people (like my friend with twins who operates way quicker than me) move through life so smoothly. I don’t at all think things are easier for these people, I just think things move more smoothly. Like a dance. Like a well-oiled machine. My machine, if I was one, would need a quart of oil, stat!
Now, I don’t live as a type C human with pride necessarily. Meaning, I realize that discipline is a virtue of which I have much more need of refinement in. I simply want to be a voice in the many voices that tell us to get up and go, do the thing, start today, go faster, do more, and while you’re at it, make it pretty! I want to say instead, to everyone, and especially those who may be labeled stay-at-home Christian moms (like myself) in particular, it’s okay if you are slow, and tired, and burnt out, and not matching, and not decorating, and taking a break. It’s okay if you are type “b” (a real category), or if you could see yourself joining the ranks of my made-up type “c” category. It’s okay if you’re the last car at carpool, and there’s trash falling out of your car, and piles on every surface of your house. Listen, this child rearing deal is no joke.. On top of this, I am also convinced that at birth, our kids steal parts of our brains. It’s okay to have smaller plates, and lots of breaks, and a messy house. We are keeping real humans alive. That is the whole thing. It’s no small feat.
I have several favorite verses in the Bible. Of them all, James 4:4 takes the cake. It says, “And He [God] gives more grace.” Grace upon grace upon second chances upon more sleep upon grace. The God I know; He loves to give grace. Who does He give grace to? The humble. The lowly. The unorganized, late mom full of love for her children. The mismatched socked, sweatpants wearing, chocolate (I hope) on her shirt, mom who has a cupboard full of crafts she doesn’t bring out very often because, has she told you about the piles? When does He give grace? All the time, every morning. And accepting His free gifts of grace doesn’t mean we are unwilling to change, but it does mean that it’s okay we are where we are. That we are who we are. We can humbly accept His grace and find ways to weave into our lives bits of discipline that will help refine us, since we are being renewed day by day. And guess what, my friends, renewal is not the same for every human. You be who you were created as and let the pressure of what you see in others in real life or on the internet completely fall away. Take the grace.
To me, being real and getting what we need to better give our kids what they need is more important than any well-oiled machine.
Erin Perkins has been 10 years, is a stay-at-home mom by default, an active volunteer, and a writer. She has been picking up the pieces from her life after an aggressive cancer diagnosis while she simultaneously tries to figure out how to parent her young children, and how to accomplish her life goal of walking alongside people experiencing the sufferings we all face in life, and offer any kind of encouragement, a hand to hold, and a reminder none of us are alone. Find her on Instagram @erinleeperkins.