In life--and in ministry--I strive to be real, to be relatable, to be authentic. I think it's the driving force behind why I love the theatre and literature so very much. Because these mediums of art expression take a slice out of someone's life or experience and present it, no apologies, no excuses. We don't have to agree with the playwright's world view. We don't have to burn the book because it doesn't represent the little corner of the world from whence we came. Instead, we can walk boldly into that stage world or that novel and see life from another perspective. But, let that perspective be authentic. Let it not be a sham.
I have spoken about and written on the subject of perfection--and how it's utterly unattainable. Maybe I gravitated toward the topic because I'm such a hot mess. But there it is. I'm tired of trying to live up to some standard dictated by someone else, somewhere else, who probably has a whole lot of money and a team of people who make her look beautiful. I'm tired of the pristine home in Good Housekeeping that looks like only one old person without cats lives there but they're saying it's the humble abode of a family of six that includes at least two elementary aged boys. I'm fed up with pictures of flawless children happily eating organic edamame. I'm sick of images of clean kids on the beach because that is a lie. No kid is clean on a beach. I'm over everyone pretending.
The truth is, I don't have time to read parenting advice from someone who lives in the Hamptons and acts like she doesn't have a nanny. That's not my reality. We don't wake up in a bed of 5,000 thread count Egyptian cotton white sheets with our breath smelling minty fresh and our hair smooth. I'll be honest, some days even the Listerine can't help our situation and most mornings I straight up look like Princess Anna on Coronation Day, drooling and all bird nesty up on top. I'm not saying that isn't someone's reality. Of course it is.
Some people don't drool. Some people have beautiful homes. Some people are amazing stylists or decorators. Some people just happen to have perfect hair that is never out of place. Maybe we all have that one thing that makes us seem perfect. And if that's the thing we photograph, we might come across seeming, well, perfect. If I took 11,249 selfies, chances are, I'd look pretty good in one of them. But those other 11,248 are where the real life is happening.
Real life is that zit on the side of my face that I can hide if I turn my head just a bit and snap the shot.
Real life is not editing the picture of my black child who looks gray because I straight up forgot to put lotion on him that day.
Real life is mismatched clothes and exercise pants even though I probably didn't exercise.
I feel like we're so busy wishing our real life into something Better Homes and Gardens worthy that we forget to be thankful for our Passable Rentals and Spotty Green Lawns. We want to be Beverly Hillsy. We want to live on a beach in Florida. We forget to be thankful that we're not living in a hut and walking three miles to find clean water.
Let's be real. If your reality actually is a clean kid on a beach, embrace it, girlfriend. (But, maybe, also show us a picture of your messy house--everyone has at least one flaw, no?) If your reality is a kid who's filthy head to toe despite the fact that it's only 9:00 am and there's no beach in sight, embrace it. That's what the bathtub is for!
I haven't got a single thing figured out. JUST SO YOU KNOW. I can't tell you how to keep a toddler happy on a plane or how to get them to eat their vegetables. Seriously. My advice on the latter is to just smush their lips shut until they swallow or die from starvation three weeks later. But, that maybe isn't the best way to avoid a visit from Child Protective Services. I know nothing. I just never want it said of me that I faked it all and acted like something other than what I truly was.
In short, I just want to keep it real. Ever. Always.
To that end, here are some things...
1. I thought I was a Baby Whisperer when it came to sleeping the through night and was totally planning to write a book on exactly how to do it. Then we had Will. He might go on his honeymoon never having reached this goal.
2. Not long ago at all, I cried in a bathroom stall because I miss Kate so much. I'm well aware of all the people who think that's just ridiculous and I legit DO NOT CARE.
3. I just ate way too many chips. They were Mesquite BBQ flavored. So, basically, tomorrow morning I'm waking up with BBQ breath in my 10 thread count Walmart cotton sheets.
I'm lauching a new Instagram account. (always_authentic_and_real) It'll be real. Unedited and unposed. Tag #alwaysauthenticandreal for a chance to be featured. Send me really dirty kids on the beach, pictures where your stylist didn't work on you for two hours before you were Instaready, blooper shots. Anything that's real and authentic and unstaged. They can be breathtakingly beautiful shots of nature that turned out great the first time. They can be an amazing picture of your beautiful baby. Just don't stage them. It's about to get REAL. #alwaysauthenticandreal