I once knew a lady with nine kids. Nine. She had motherhood down to an art. I remember going to her house and witnessing a perfectly organized playroom with labeled toy bins, and a militant schedule of cleaning for her children. I always admired her tenacity, although I never wanted to be “Officer Mom”. My dreams aimed a little less drill sergeant but equally as organized.

I am not that lady.

Generally, my house is chaos. Whenever I hear the doorbell ring, my stomach drops and I crack the door open as thinly as possible, hoping to hide as much of the background mess as possible. Sometimes the laundry room has barfed its unwashed contents into the living room. Sometimes, the newspaper has been unfolded by little hands and scattered all over the front hall. Dirty socks sometimes miss the laundry basket by twenty feet or so.

Sometimes, people comment on how cute my girls look, and I realize it’s because these people rarely see both of my girls with brushed hair. Sometimes, people comment on how nice I look and I realize it’s because for the first time in a month, my hair isn’t in a ponytail. Half the time my children resemble cavemen. Half the time their shoes are on the wrong feet. If they’re wearing shoes.

The other day my daughter wore pink Hello Kitty Overall shorts with a rainbow skirt on top, a white shrug, some chunky heels, and a knitted purple hat… and I let her go out in public like that.

Sometimes, my kids eat popcorn and Fudgecicles for dinner, also known as “snacky dinner” because I forgot to thaw the roast. Again. My three year old has played so much “Super Smash Brothers” on the Wii U that he associates all colors by the character it matches. (I hold up a red crayon, he calls it “Mario!” I hold a purple crayon, he calls it, “Bad Mario!” Green: “Luigi!”

Sometimes I feel so discouraged by how much I am not the mother I dreamed I’d be, with the masterfully cleaned house, the perfectly done up children with matching outfits, the perfect rationing of t.v. time of less than 30 minutes a day… but I am not that lady.

But sometimes, I remind myself: My kids are alive. They are healthy. They are smiling (when they’re not arguing.) I’m trying. I’m improving. And for today, that’s enough.

by Krystle Ricks