I remember my friend telling me when I was at school; "there is no such thing as perfect. It just doesn't exist."
At first, I laughed. I didn't want to believe it. Because perfect always wins out in the movies, in the fairytales, in the happy-ever-after photoshopped world of marketing genius.
But deep down, I knew she was right. I felt it in my bones. Because the seemingly perfect was only ever a facade. A glossy screen to a reality that was more often than not too harsh to truly face.
Now, I get it. Life has taught me enough (thank you, life). The perfect marriage, house, family, body, face, exercise routine, diet, perspective...we are chasing unicorns when we chase these supposed ideals.
Cracks in our plates and bowls. The set that we bought to replace the fragments that shattered at the mercy of the dishwasher, our exhaustion, or a 3 year old's whim.
Cracks in our hearts, when we realise that this world of ours is jam-packed full of pain, heartache and loss.
Cracks in our once-smooth skin, where our children played football with our bladders and stretched the very seams that were holding them in place.
There are cracks everywhere. In our confidence, in our sense of self, in our hopes.
But the thing about cracks is that the rain gets in.
When I was a child, I would hunt for ants in my back yard. I would follow the cracked and splitting patio slabs and inevitably find those tiny bugs to watch in wonder. I watched as the ants would be forced to walk around grass and weeds and earthworms, emerging from fresh, moist soil.
And it may not be the life we drew out on fresh, crisp paper at age 5. With a rounded yellow sunshine and a happy little family; waving from the upstairs window of a perfectly square house...but it is life nonetheless.
Because there is life in my cracked tableware. The rush of jamming the dishwasher door too hard shows that we had more important things to focus on than tidying. The tiredness that caused a slight lapse in spacial-awareness is proof of a day spent crunching through brambles in the forest with my 5 year old. The fragments and tears of a lost plate are evidence of simple forgiveness and understanding.
And there is life in heartache. Gritty, raw and unapologetic, this life is haunting. It catches our breath as it twists our insides with anxiety. Yet we are still here. We are still living. Living for peace and a better world for our children, unrelenting in our resolve that there is simply no other choice than to keep on swimming...
Truly, there is life in my scars. My tiger stripes shine when they catch the light, like streaks of pearls across my abdomen; the first home that my children ever knew.
Life. Complicated, messy, marked and haunting.
Yet as mothers, so often we forget that we are human too. So often, we forget to grant ourselves the grace that we grant our children. We forget to offer ourselves the forgiveness that we offer our partners. We forget to allow ourselves time, understanding and empathy.
For so many of us, our mistakes leave us gasping for air as we drown in mommy guilt.
Because every time that our human imperfection burns brighter, our confidence falters and we doubt our capabilities.
Let me say this very clearly, to every mom left doubting...You are capable. You are strong. You are needed.
Because with every mistake, there comes the opportunity to apologise. To make amends. To show our children that imperfection is normal, that there is no such thing as a human pedestal upon which to balance, to prove that we are lovable even when we mess up.
To show vulnerability and real emotion, to falter in our resolve, shows our little ones that flexibility can be a gift. That letting the hurt out is the healthiest way to move forwards, onwards, upwards...to keep on swimming.
Yesterday, I lost it. I cracked. And life in abundance came flooding out of my mouth - in the firm direction of my husband. Fifteen seconds of pain, aimed directly at him.
Loss of a non-existent ideal.
And yet I was still needed. I was still mama. I was still wifey; cracked, messy and human.
And just as quickly as I had messed up, my family surrounded me with love. Because they understand the cracks. Because they have them too. Because we are all, every single one of us, nothing other than human.
Moms, there are days when it all just feels too much. There are mistakes that feel too big to come back from, but what choice do any of us really have?
I choose the cracks. The heart-tightening, soul-affirming, humbling cracks that give us life and love and scars and tears. The strangling cracks that are everywhere in this world, which offer us new beginnings out of nothing but dirt.
Because life is dirty, messy and fundamentally imperfect.
And that's ok. We're ok. Let's keep on swimming together.
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