This is an excerpt from TODAY Parenting Team contributor Christie Cuthbert's new book, "Mom! I Farted in Church" One Type A Mama's Journey Learning to Laugh and Let Go.
It was a warm April day in 2017 when I heard a knock at the front door. There stood my neighbor, next to my triplets, who were buck naked.
“I found these guys dancing on my lawn,” he said, laughing so hard tears sprung to his eyes.
My boys’ antics were a source of constant entertainment for him and his wife, who enjoyed watching the ruckus of our bedtime routine from their back porch on warm summer nights.
As I stood there staring at my boys in their birthday suits, I turned a new shade of red. My neighbor was a grandfather himself who had raised boys, so unlike me, he found the situation hilarious. Other neighbors began to gather at this point, suddenly finding themselves in the front row of the sketch comedy show that was now my front porch.
Being a Type A person by nature, I felt horribly embarrassed, like a failure. My palms were sweaty. People’s false perceptions of me as “Supermom” were suddenly exposed for the chaotic truth. I needed Calgon to take me away.
I’m such a bad mom. How could my kids sneak out of the house stark naked without me even noticing? I thought. They were down the block like dancing, R-rated lawn ornaments! They could have been kidnapped! The neighborhood must be ready to call Child Protective Services on me.
My wild, overactive imagination immediately envisioned an anchor on the evening news reporting my downfall via teleprompter: “And in today’s news, a local mom loses custody of her children after they embark on an afternoon of midday steaking. Said mom has checked into Betty Ford to cope with her existence.”
That desire to appear like I have my life together has plagued me since childhood. It’s something I have always battled as a Type A perfectionist. And as anyone who is Type A knows, that longing to be in control of life can’t be changed—you’re born with it. You can only learn to manage it, which takes time, patience, and lots of deep breathing. And most importantly, when you’re sitting in the heat of the moment, it takes laughing and finding joy.
Being a true Type A person means going the extra mile to make the exterior view of your life look put-together and presentable, even when the inside is messy mayhem.
It’s the reason I wake up early to shower every morning: so I can look decent at school drop-off and people won’t know my head is spinning from my circus. It’s also the reason I sometimes spritz my kids with body spray before school. I don’t always have the energy to bathe them, and heaven forbid someone know there are nights when they go to bed with markers on their arms and sticky ice cream mustaches.
Whether it’s pulling their pants down in a very public place or knocking over an entire display of seasonal air fresheners with ninja moves, my children draw attention to us wherever we go. Sometimes onlookers laugh along with us, and sometimes I get that look of pity, like I’m the old woman who lived in a shoe and had so many children she didn’t know what to do.
By the way, Debra at Walmart, I saw your side-eye when my boys attempted to climb into the produce scale. Thanks for that judgment. I’m sure your kids never did anything wrong ever.
It’s taken me a long time to fully embrace the idea that nothing is ever going to be perfect and that laughter is truly what brings the joy. The minute I stopped cringing and joined in on the laughs, I began to enjoy the parenting experience a whole lot more.
A year ago, my eye would’ve twitched as my boys hid in the milk fridge at Sam’s Club. Now, I just smile and ask them to pass the half and half.
The same can be said for when they turned a visit with Chuck E. Cheese into a mosh pit and nearly knocked the mascot mouse over. They were three, and honestly, it was pretty darn funny.
And performing their “Booty Scooty” dance while at the grocery store checkout? It earns an applause, and sometimes I join in.
Being authentic with others and yourself, even when it makes you feel vulnerable, makes you more relatable and often forges friendships and a sense of community. People don’t want to hear about how your child just can’t get enough of the organic kale cookies you bake that taste like barf. They don’t want perfection.
People want human. They want the raw, uncut realness, and they want to relate and laugh along with you.
This book is my journey from neurotic mom-to-be to a place of acceptance and joy. There is heartache, happiness, love, chaos, embarrassment, outlandish moments, and more. And every single word of it is true. As much as I strive, I am nowhere near “Supermom” status. I am just a girl, working hard to make the best of the beautiful hand God dealt me. And instead of trying to win the game, I’m having the best time I can playing along.
Throughout this book you’ll learn ways to find strength, understanding, acceptance, and joy in your own motherhood experience by embracing what’s truly important and letting go of what’s not.
For many years, in the midst of the pandemonium that comes with raising four little boys, I had my blinders on, trying to get through each day without losing my mind. Looking back now, I can see that the challenges I faced only made me stronger. Intuition, guidance from above, and eventually learning to let go and find joy have brought me to a place of mindfulness. My hope is that anyone who picks up this book is able to find special moments in their own journey to soak it all in.
Whenever I begin to slip back into my perfectionist ways, the universe throws me a funny curve ball to remind me that finding the humorous silver linings is what it’s truly all about.
The idea for this book came in the way of an extremely embarrassing moment on a Sunday morning at church. In a crowded hallway on the way into service, one of my triplets announced proudly with a huge smile, “Mom! I just farted in church! Do you think God heard it?”
A moment that would normally cause me to perspire from extreme embarrassment, instead provided clarity. God wouldn’t want me to be mortified or ashamed. He would want me to laugh at the adorable little kid in front of me. He would want me to smile, not fret about what others were thinking.
“Oh, sweet Tommy, I’m sure He did,” I replied. “And He’s probably laughing right along with us now.”
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