(an adaption of my column originally printed as the first page of a school newsletter from several years back)
… I told you I’d take this space to write what I thought we needed to hear…what I needed to hear. This time, I thought maybe that might be an introduction of myself. Who is this former PTA president anyway?
Some things you may already know: mother of 5, my youngest in 5th grade, my oldest a sophomore in college, wife of 21 years, hold a degree in K- 9th grade teaching, enjoy reading, love to write, love to sing, addicted to Diet Coke. Some things you might not have known: taught in Africa before I got married, twirled a rifle in high school, born and raised in North Carolina, hide my southern accent because people used to listen to how I said it more than what I said. But after all that, I think sometimes people have little idea who Elizabeth Daghfal really is. A few weeks ago, a newspaper reporter wrote a very nice article on healthy eating, asking if she could photograph my family for it. The day the article came out, quite a few commented on it, suggesting a new title: “SuperMom.”
Now, that is not me! Every now and again, a mistake of mine comes to light. Someone sees it and says, “I’m glad to see you make mistakes. Makes you one of us.”
Oh, if you only knew. While I struggle with personal perfectionism, I am far from perfect. Most days, my car is a mess; currently there are popcorn kernels all over the floor. My house? Well, let’s just say we had some work to do before that photographer came in. I hate to waste time sleeping but have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. Have such an addictive personality that in college I ate pounds of carrots a day ’til I turned orange. Frequently earn “Mother-of-the-Year” awards, like the time I forgot to come to my daughter’s play—she had the lead. Or the time I didn’t realize one of my kids hadn’t gone to school. Found her still asleep in bed—at 11:08. In my defense, I was horribly sick and just wanted to go back to bed myself. But how about today, when I drove all the way to piano lessons and then realized I hadn’t brought the child that needed to go?
I’m blessed with good kids, but they aren’t perfect either—I have the two-foot-in-diameter rainbow stain to prove it, made with 40oz of acrylic paint in red, blue, green, yellow, and white. (Poured out on brand-new carpet, not 6 months after we moved in. Still not sure what my preschooler was trying to do—practicing for Reflections?) I know what it’s like to get that call from the teacher, asking me to come in and talk about my child’s choices for that day. My hope? That my children will grow up to be loving, caring individuals who serve God and others—sometimes, in spite of me. Yes, I get angry, and there have been times when I think my kids have prayed I’d get laryngitis.
Getting up to talk in front of people can send me into panicked “butterflies” while my face and neck turn a scary shade of purple; I’ve had to reassure the audience that I won’t combust. My friends have been known to hand me a full-box of kleenexes—and then ask if one box will be enough. Few people understand when I’m telling a joke, prompting me to tell my family, “Face it. Our family is just not funny.” I struggle with shyness and confidence. And our patient newsletter editor will tell you that I’m frequently late on getting my article in—including this time.
So, see? I’m not SuperMom. And definitely NOT perfect. Just human. Some days, way too much so. Sound familiar? I try hard to be kind, to be patient, to reach out to help where I can, to find help when I can’t. But frequently, I miss the mark. Run out of time. Run out of gas. And that’s okay.
That is what I need to hear today…That It’s okay! I can’t be perfect; none of us are. None of us can do it all. None of us can be it all. Especially not me. I am here to serve. I am NOT here to show you how it’s done. Because sometimes, I don’t know myself.
So keep aiming to be kind, to help, to be our best. But I hope we’ll give each other a break—and give ourselves one while we’re at it. Because there are no SuperMoms. Or Dads. Just us.
Phew! Feels good to get rid of that cape. Gets kind of heavy!