This is one guest post I’m really excited about. I’m going to keep it short but Lareasa is one of my absolute dearest friends and most favorite people in the world. We met ten years ago in Mozambique (yes, Mozambique!), saw each other randomly at a Jesus conference in PA, and became besties when she decided to move to TN to work with a couple I had been working with for a few years. It was instant best friendship. We met our husbands within weeks of each other, convinced each other it was ok to date (and marry) them, and have walked with each through the best of seasons and inevitably, the hardest. We can laugh over the dumbest things (just ask our husbands), cry at each other’s pain, and ultimately, push each other towards Jesus. She really is the best. And I am so excited for you guys to see (read) a little of her wit & wisdom.
A few years back I was headed to the zoo with my two young daughters to see a new friend. It was over an hour drive so being the responsible mommy I try to be, I made sure all 3 of us went to the bathroom before we left. As we approached Seattle, I felt that familiar urge to relieve myself. Since having 3 children has left me without much “wait time,” I knew I didn’t have time to hold it. Traffic on the freeway was at a crawl but we were only about a mile from the exit. I decided to wait. Thirty minutes later we were still not at the exit, and at this point, I was wiggling around trying to think about anything and everything but my bladder, which I was sure was moments away from bursting inside my body. Every minute after that was excruciating. Finally, 45 minutes later, we were pulling off the freeway and headed toward the zoo. At this point, I knew there was no way I could make it to a restroom with my little ones in tow, so I started weighing out my options. I decided the best option was to pull my car over on the busy city street in front of a row of houses at 10:30 AM, dash to the passenger side, open both doors and let it flow. I was desperate and way past the fear of embarrassment. I had made my decision, and knew I just needed to find the location.
There it was, a place to park! Sure, it was right in front of a row of beautiful homes, and yes, it was broad daylight and cars were whizzing by…but I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. Timing it just right, I dashed to the passenger side, flung both doors open, pulled my pants down and squatted, just in time for a tidal wave came rushing out. Success! Crisis averted!
Then I stood up.”Uh-oh, why are my pants so wet? Did I seriously just pee all over them?!?”
Upon further inspection I realized that I had indeed managed to hit more of my pants than the ground. Now my only pair of bottoms were soaked in my own urine. Did I mention the fact that I was hanging out with my new found friend for just the 2nd time? Here I was, about one mile from the zoo, 30 minutes late to my play date, completely soaked, with no clothing stores close by. In that moment, I decided we were going to the play date, even if it killed me. I had come too far and needed out of the house way too badly.
So, I pulled up my pants, walked over to the driver’s seat, surveyed my car and had what I would like to call a McGeyver moment. I had a sweatshirt, wipes, a car heater and plan. I looked around to make sure there were no witnesses, pulled off my bottom clothing and quickly placed my sweatshirt over my lap. Then, I took out what must have been half the wipes I had brought and began wiping down my legs and feet. I took the shorts, gave them a good sniff, concluded they were okay and placed them on my dashboard and turned the heater on full blast. I turned on my blinker, looked back at my children who were looking a bit perplexed, put the car in drive and began driving down the busy road. I had a sweatshirt over my bare bottom half, one hand on the steering wheel and the other steadying my shorts over the dashboard heater vents. In minutes we arrived at the zoo and miraculously, my shorts were dry, my clothes were back on, and we were headed into the zoo where we stayed the rest of the day.
Just another day in the life of a mom.
If you are a mama, you probably have a ” pee story” of your own like this; if you are a woman and don’t yet have children, it’s only a matter of time. It’s just real life. Having a baby changes a lot of things about your body—your bladder is one of the many casualties. You might be reading this and think, “You shouldn’t talk about things like that, because it makes you look bad. Besides, it’s gross and might make people feel uncomfortable.” And maybe you are right. But maybe my story makes the moms who can’t jump on a trampoline, laugh too hard, or sneeze without having to change her underclothes realize she is not alone and more importantly—that it’s okay not to be perfect.
Motherhood can be such a lonely, pressure-filled journey.
It’s not that you can’t stay busy surrounded by friends or activities, or read a posted article on Facebook that in a few short paragraphs tells you what you should or should not be doing as a woman, a parent, a friend etc. It’s not that you can’t drown yourself in the sea of ideas on Pinterest that will allow you to make the most delicious meal or host the most incredible party. It’s not that you can’t read about depression, a miscarriage, parenting, marriage, and a whole host of other things from a secondary source. I think what makes the journey so lonely sometimes is that along the way we become silent about our own suffering, the insecurities, the uncomfortable things, the things that make us vulnerable and fearful. In a world that has taught us to put our best face forward, we are so often afraid to show anything but our best, so we project a picture about our situations that is actually just a facade.
Now, before you react, let me explain. I am a mother to three young daughters, a 16-year-old daughter we host from Korea, and a wife to a wonderful man. I believe to the very core of who I am that I am blessed. I love my children and my husband, my family and the Lord, but I am not always on a mountain top. I am not always happy. My children are not always angels. My husband and I do not always see eye to eye. I take more bad photos of myself then good ones. Sometimes I go days without changing out of my workout clothes or yoga pants, and I don’t always laugh at incidents when they are happening (even if I will later). I often struggle to get quiet time in with the Lord. My house is not always clean. I don’t always feel good about my appearance. I might forget to brush my teeth until 2 pm, bathe my kids, and the list goes on. But if you looked at my Facebook or Instagram, saw the birthday parties I throw my children, heard me tell a funny story about something like peeing my pants in a car on the way to the zoo, the way my house usually looks when you visit or spent time with me, you might not realize any of the things I have just admitted to. I put out what I want you to believe about me, and if we are honest with ourselves, you might have done it, too.
Why is it that as women we post pictures on Facebook of the beautifully cooked, gluten free, paleo, low carb, organic meat tart we just “whipped” up for dinner, and our children excitedly eating it, with the caption “I love that my kids are such healthy eaters #betterthanburgers#cleaneatingmachines” and not the McDonalds Happy Meal we bought them the night before with the caption “They won’t eat anything else today” #Igiveup. Why is it that Instagram is filled with pictures taken with the most flattering lens, of people doing the most exciting things with the most amazing people and pretending like it’s just another normal day instead of exhausted moms in yoga pants and pony tails with screaming children clinging to their legs? Why do we put pressure on ourselves to throw our kids parties that have themes and look like Martha Stewart herself came and designed them and not feel adequate with paper plates, pizza and a rainbow chip box cake. Why does my house have to sparkle before I will let anyone come over? What is wrong with inviting people over when there are dishes in the sink and clothes that need to be folded on the couch? Why do I/we put that kind of pressure on ourselves and each other?
What if we could release ourselves from the pressure of being a supermom, super wife, superfit, super popular, super spiritual, super adventurous, super funny, super clean, super healthy, super creative woman? What would happen if we stopped taking to heart every suggestion or every bit of advice that’s constantly being thrown in our direction, comparing ourselves to the highlight reels of other people’s lives? I am not saying that being healthy isn’t important, articles giving advice are bad, sharing things happening in our lives is wrong or that it’s not okay to want to feel beautiful or that creativity is not valuable. I am just saying that too many of us are drowning under the weight of a pursuit of a perfection that we will never be able to obtain.
I am beginning to realize that being honest about real life is what actually binds us together, and it does so much more tightly than the glorious Instagram photoshopping, Facebook statusing, perfect altered reality that is so often out there. We live in a world that is always pointing us to an area we need to improve and reminding us that we aren’t quite good enough, we must remember our happiness and worth are found in neither chasing tor attaining those things. Our worth has to come from who God says we are. Period. His Word tells me that I am a child of God (John 1:12), I will not be condemned by God (Romans 8:1), I have been accepted by Christ (Romans 15:7), I am set free in Christ (Galatians 5:1), God loves me and has chosen me (1 Thessalonians 1:4). These things do not hinge on my ability to get it right or to obtain perfection, but instead on his perfection and His perfect love for me.
The fear of man really is a snare. Please don’t let comparison to others or the approval of this world drown out the reality of who you are. Give yourself a break, invite some friends over to your messy house, rock your yoga pants, eat on paper plates, give yourself permission to share your own embarrassing story with someone or admit that you are struggling. Forgive yourself for being short with your kiddos. You are not alone on this crazy, wonderful, exhausting journey, and you do not have to suffer in silence. Have the courage to be real with yourself and each other and to reach out when you need support—there are so many of us in the same boat as you. Your risk at vulnerability might help lead you or someone else to freedom from their own prison. You are beautiful, you have value and infinite worth—you are enough—and nobody can take that away from you. Take refuge in the fact that what you believe about yourself might be wrong, but God’s ever wrong. And He’s not wrong about who he says you are!
Here’s Lareasa with her awesome husband, Eric, & her three girls. Linnie is the youngest, standing is Kelyn, & Eric is holding the oldest, Brooklyn. Aren’t they gorgeous?