It was time to prepare my mind and my beat up squishy body to go back to work. I had been on maternity leave for eight weeks following the birth of my second baby which meant no more morning talk shows in my pajamas followed by a refreshing mid-afternoon nap. It also meant time to squeeze into some of those unforgiving dressy pants. You know, the ones that they refuse to make for curvy women so you have to search far and wide for those special no-seam undies so you don’t feel super risqué every time you walk the hall. Going back to work also meant jamming my swollen, one whole size bigger feet into heels. For this job I wore high heels that were so painful it was almost comical but they were the only weapon I had at that point against my butt screaming to the world that I did indeed have two children because of the way it looked in those dressy pants.
At the time, I had the kind of job that required a lot of face-to-face interaction throughout the day with doctors, nurses, clerical staff, pharmacists and patients. I had been back to work for a couple of months when a doctor stopped by my office. He and his wife had recently had their first baby so, as expected, he stood there with disheveled hair, bloodshot eyes from lack of sleep, and a ginormous coffee mug in hand and asked, “Dr. Peña how do you do it?”
I was caught a little off guard trying to figure out what I did right or wrong to be granted this random drop-in and off-the-cuff question.
Professional me asked, “What do you mean exactly?”
He said, “Well, you are so, uh, put together. Like how do you do it every day with no sleep, and kids and work full-time and still show up so ready to go every day?”
I smiled and unprofessional me replied, “Dude, I fake it big time.”
He laughed this big spontaneous, involuntary laugh like the one that is borderline awkward because it reveals to everyone how you really laugh when you aren’t at work, you know?
Listen, when I park at work each morning I check three things.
1.Do both of my shoes match?
2.Did I put on deodorant?
3.Did I remember to put on a bra?
I have learned that these are the only three things I absolutely cannot fake so if all three boxes get checked off while I am sitting in that parking lot, I’m totally golden.
I think the phrase “fake it till you make it” gets a bad rap. For me it doesn’t mean you are fake or being fake. It means that you have a choice to be happy and positive and you know what? That takes practice. Being positive, happy, grateful, and joyful when you are sleep deprived, super stressed, so busy it’s unattractive, have a stubborn flesh tire around your waist that has become your new sidekick with big time separation issues, and have three kids and a hubby who all equally need and want your attention and love all while you work full-time... my friends that takes practice. So I have to consciously PRACTICE being happy, PRACTICE being grateful, and PRACTICE being joyful. And sorry not sorry that I will disagree with the vast majority of the sports world when I say, practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes something, anything become more natural, like second nature so you don’t have to fake it anymore. So if you wanna call me a fake mom that’s cool but in reality I am just really good at practicing being the best mom I can be. I also know that whatever that equates to, is exactly what God intended for my kiddos.
So when I read the featured challenge of “Digging Deep”, I first thought of digging deep in a bowl of delicious guacamole with seasoned, crispy, preferably warm tortilla chips. Yes, you guessed right. I can’t fool you! I am writing this on a Wednesday sooooo the diet I started on Monday is obviously not going well if every word I read reminds me of carbs and guac.
That’s where my mind is at. It’s an awesome place. You should join me.
Because after three kids, one who has autism, one who is five going on fifteen, and a one year old that seems to always find the PERFECT place to hide my keys and phone, I stopped “digging deep” many moons ago.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still have some pretty soul-searching, face-to-the-floor nights as a mom. For example, I have this prayer I say literally out loud some nights right around 7:30 pm. It gets tweaked every now and then but for the most part it goes something like this...
“Lord! Lord, are you listening?!”
(By now, depending on if my tone has a twinge of humor or total desperation, my children have stopped saying “mom” for the 1,357th time since 4:30 pm and are staring at me with that “I am kinda scared but I’m really hoping you’re kidding” type of nervous smile. This is also when I start flailing my arms to add to the drama.)
“Lord Jesus! Please, oh please get me through the next hour of my life without hurting anyone that is legally considered a minor! And please, oh please give me gargantuan strength and superhero powers to grow four more arms to make a somewhat healthy dinner from this box, bathe three human beings that smell all kinds of abnormal, brush two impossible manes that seem to have become real live rat nests within the last eight hours, read several children’s books that lower my IQ by a couple of points with each word, sing four songs with complete sarcasm that is masked with beautiful gusto, do the devil’s evil work which they call homework because only You know why Lord, put a one year old to sleep while he laughs in my face at the thought of sleep and then clean the kitchen just enough so that my daughter who is autistic and sensitive to smells doesn’t gag and then puke in the morning creating more unbelievable work for yours truly. Lord? Did I lose you there? Sorry just uh ... Jesus? ...”
(My two girls usually chime in about here and say together...) “HELP US!”
Yes. Jesus, help us.
So yeah, sometimes I do have to dig deep.
...deep into the bottom of the ice chest at some kid’s birthday party for the coldest generic coke because, let’s be honest, it required moving mountains to get to the party on time and we all showed up looking like crap so sometimes water is just not enough OK?
...deep into the Victoria Secret clearance bin for seamless, dressy-pant undies that are NOT size zero. Like really? Come on. Fine, I will go to JC Penney. Pretty sure they still have a maternity section.
...deep into my little son’s eyes to see if I can figure out once and for all if he really is the true Boss Baby as he jumps, kicks and claps with a new found energy at 10 pm while I fail miserably at singing him to sleep.
...deep into my little girl’s precious, violated scalp as I pick out every single one of those vile nits with a flashlight strapped to my forehead because kindergarten is real and “nit-picking” only now has true, cruel and such an unfortunate meaning in my vocabulary.
...deep into my fuzzy brain as I try to remember what the heck I came to the grocery store for while I sit in my car in the parking lot staring into space and scaring the little old man parked next to me. Wait, is this one of those times I pretended I needed something from the grocery store just to escape? Nope. Q-tips and meatballs…I got this.
...deep with outrageously expensive creams and serums into these three long, very obvious, and pesky lines that so magically appeared uninvited on my neck. Rude.
...deep into Google to find answers as to why, oh why this machine that was thousands of dollars and is called a “washing” machine makes all my bath towels smell like death.
...deep into the guacamole bowl because, duh, the lime juice always settles and anyway this diet sucks.
So CHEERS to all the parents that are faking it till they make it! HOORAY for all the parents who are practicing their happiness and gratitude and joy daily! And HECK YES to all the parents who wanna join me at the guacamole bowl!