Walking out of the high school this morning I notice the groups of kids hanging out at the main entrance. They joke around, laugh, tease each other, and all seem to be enjoying the company. All the girls are tall, thin and have long hair pulled back in pony tales. All the guys wear their various school sport shirts. They’re all so athletic and perfect.
My son walks ahead of me and I can’t help but think, why do all the other kids seem to have it so easy? Why does it, and by it I mean life, have to always be so hard for my kid? How did it happen this way? Did he of all people really need to get hit by a car?
The weeds reach the bottom of the windows on the first floor and I wonder what the neighbors think. We keep meaning to take care of that mess. Sitting on the porch I watch the landscaper across the street work on a beautiful lawn. Maybe I should get some flowers?
The sink is only empty for a moment and in a flash it’s piled high with dirty dishes. Someone has tracked dirt through the house with their muddy running shoes- oh shoot, that was me.
Recently I was at someone’s house and I asked if I could use the restroom. I walked through the spotless first floor and up the stairs to use an unoccupied bathroom. Each room seemed so perfect. All so neat, clean and decorated nicely. I thought of those posters sitting on my son’s dresser that I promised I’d put on his bare walls, months ago. I thought about the fact that decorating for me was using tape to put up posters…
I’m running around each day trying to keep up with the details of life- picking up prescriptions, making appointments, paying bills, getting around to planting a few things and attempting to keep up with laundry. Meanwhile my children are becoming one with the couch and I do not have the energy to entertain them. I complain enough at them that they get up once in awhile and do some chores. When I walk through the living room later, they are back on the couch.
Everyone else does such a better job parenting than I do. How do they know what they’re doing?
Each day I fall for the same lie: everyone has it together but me. I see snapshots of their lives and I wonder, how does everyone else know what they’re doing?
I KNOW IT’S NOT TRUE.
Their son is the track star but their marriage is tense.
Their house is perfectly clean but they are never home to enjoy it.
The yard is perfect but the house has been a money pit.
Their career is thriving but the depression is crushing them.
Their child lucky enough to be off experiencing Europe but they are overwhelmed with anxiety after almost losing one of their other kids in an accident.
No one has it all together. But maybe they are just better gardners than me, it doesn’t mean their life is perfect. I’m taking one piece of life and making it everything. I’m seeing one moment in some teenagers life, standing outside the high school and not experiencing the truth of what happens at home. Not experiencing the truth of what is going on in their head.
I’m sure there are plenty of Pinterest quotes I could insert here. Comparison is the thief of joy, insert whimsical background. But for me, it’s the daily discipline of not believing the lie that everyone is perfect but me. Everyone else does NOT have everything together, they just don’t.
I’ve found the best way for me to rewire my brain each day is to start out with a run. It may be something different for you. But running is my medicine and it’s even better with a running friend. Move through the streets around you. If you’re with a friend, swap stories. Remind each other that you weren’t the only parent who lay awake half the night worrying about your child. Catch each other up on how hard it is to parent teenagers.
But, if you’re alone, look past the perfect yard to the door. Behind those walls is just another person living an imperfect life, no matter how great their landscaper is.