when my insides are messy (#wholemama).

On Friday, the boys and I had ourselves a low-key day. We stayed in our pajamas for a little while longer than usual, and we went to the gym soon there after. We met up with the HBH (Hot Black Husband) for lunch, as the gym and his office and the grocery store are all within a few blocks of each other. And if you saw this post of family pictures last week, you know that Cancan’s taken to dressing himself. And asserting himself. And having Very Strong Feelings, as he should be having as a growing, thriving little boy.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s any easier for either one of us to navigate his changing self.

So you’d think I would have kept in mind the fact that I am a thirty-something year old Very Wise Woman, and he is a three-nager. But when we got to the grocery store, I wanted to be the one in charge. (I know). I wanted to be the one calling the shots. (I know).

I put on my Big Girl Mama Panties and I laid down the law:

“Cancan, you will leave your airplane suitcase in the car. And you will leave the reusable bag packed with additional goodies in the car. And you will leave your cardboard 4th of July “flag,” as you call it, in the car. Because we are meeting Dada for lunch, in public. Okay?” 

I did not give him choices. I did not give him options. I was firm and steady in my Very Wise Opinion of all that was needed for a successful venture inside our local Whole Foods market.

But he was having none of that. Instead, he looked at me and uttered his favorite new four-syllable word: NO. 

I balked.

I stomped my feet and I considered flailing my body on the concrete, tantrum-style. 

And when I finally unstrapped him from the carseat and attempted to dethrone him (without the suitcase, the reusable bag and the Independence Day “flag”), a minor moment of defiance turned into something so much larger.

Alligator tears began streaming down his face. Hiccups caught in his throat. Pleas of mercy came from his mouth while I stood steadfast and stubborn in my own attempts to Be Right and Look Right and Stay Right for the remainder of the day.

Because y’all, here’s the truth: it wasn’t his mess. It was my mess. 

Too often my insides get messy. I haven’t had the time to sit with my words, and I forget that there’s power when I unleash my fingers to do the hard work. I’ve slept badly, so the last thing I want to do is get up early and sit with a cup of coffee and a book that brings me closer to Old Suitor Heaven, as Emily Dickinson would say. I haven’t worked out and I haven’t taken care of my body as I should. I haven’t taken the time to sit with the man I hold hands with for life, and that only creates more tension, more dissonance, more disconnect.

Because if my insides aren’t right – if my insides are all awry, messy and sticky and unkempt on a deep soul level, then it shows on the outside. 

It comes out with my boys and it comes out with my husband.

It comes out with the postmaster and it comes out with the stranger in the car next to me.

It comes out in my interactions, online and in the real world, and nine times out of ten, call it karma, call it Jesus, call it Payback circa Rascal Flats, that person I’ve been most ugly and most messy to is going to end up on my front porch and in my world again. [See also Long’s Drug Store employee, Allegiant Air ticket representative turned flight attendant, and Target over-the-phone representative – these may make good stories, but they don’t make for a kind Cara in the moment.]

So when it came to Friday’s lunch, I took a deep breath and I counted to three. I asked for a do-over with my son, and I said I’m sorry. 

And then together, with Little Brother in tow as well, we three proudly walked into the grocery store, like this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 8.41.44 PMSo friends, let’s embrace the mess and let’s celebrate the mess …but let’s deal with the mess as well. Here’s to being our most whole, true selves.

xo, c.

So, what about you? Hint: even if you think I was far too lenient with my son, don’t tell me that, for you may have missed the point of my gushy heart words. Otherwise, when and how and where have you been messy? Linking up with the #wholemama team over at Esther Emery’s site – join us!

19 thoughts on “when my insides are messy (#wholemama).

  1. Yep. It’s usually my mess. And oh how I find every which way but what to NOT deal with the mess. But Jesus is so good at do-overs and redemption and grace and I’m so thankful for Him and for sweet CanCan and those shorts and you and this grace-giving story.

  2. This picture will probably always be one of your favorites. That’s your son already figuring out who he is and how to express himself. (Btw, my elder daughter just graduated with a degree in English and art, dresses stylishly, and is the family activist. I’m pretty sure it’s because I used to let her wear a clip-on tie and two pairs of mismatched socks.) Wonderful post, Cara!

    1. Oh, thank you, Amanda! Here’s to continuing to remember to let the personality shine forth and come out …and I love hearing how it WORKED for and with your daughter. 🙂

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com

      >

  3. Cara, you speak words of truth. I remember times of yelling at my kids. Jamie can tell you there were a few times where I beat the wall or jumped up and down. Just thinking of it now seems like it would have looked quite comical. Seriously, though, more often that not it was because I had not taken care of myself properly. I was tired, was not happy with my body, did not exercise or sleep enough, etc. I’m sure you know just what I mean. I love that you were able to stop, ask for a do over and show your son grace. That took a lot of strength and I’m glad you shared it. After all, we’ve been shown much grace by God and how will our children learn about grace if we don’t demonstrate it to them. 🙂

    1. Oh, thank you for your encouragement, Gayl …because it IS pretty messy much of the time. But today, like last Friday, we don’t have a whole lot on our schedule, so we’re going to keep it simple with the gym again and a good batch of quiet time this afternoon. Here’s to becoming our most whole – Whole and Holy – selves, together.

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com

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    1. Thank you, my friend. PS: Do you remember what words of wisdom you said to me after Frodo was born? Two phrases: This too shall pass …and what was the other one?

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com

      >

        1. perhaps, perhaps. I’ll have to look them up in comments from the fall. I’m pretty sure that’s when you birthed wisdom in me!

          Cara Meredith

          writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com

          >

  4. I think apologizing to our kids is so important. It demonstrates that parents mess up too, so it shows we aren’t perfect, but it also demonstrates to the kid that they are worthy of the apology. That they are valuable little creatures and that we are confident enough as parents to right our wrongs. 😊. And what parent hasn’t had their last remaining button pushed by something silly? I know I have! This is a great post!

    1. Oh, thanks for your encouragement, friend. I DO want to be better about saying I’m sorry – not just in an apologetic white lady sort of way, but really, truly in an I messed up and need a do-over sort of way. Here’s to just that. 🙂

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com

      >

  5. “I asked for a do-over with my son, and I said I’m sorry.” A thousand times I ha done this and I probably will a thousand more. Bravo mama for nourishing your baby’s heart.

  6. I bet he was thrilled and felt like a big boy. And after all, you didn’t die from him doing it!!! 💖💖

    1. He pretty much felt like he owned the place, Debbie! 🙂 And I think we all emerged a little healthier.

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com

      >

  7. Oh yeah, I relate to all of this. I’ve been doing some hard work on my messy insides lately. I’ve held myself to some high mothering standards, and the pressure is intense. I’m still in this process, but one thing I know is that love, acceptance, and listening are of a lot more value to my children than me getting it all right. Still though, that mom guilt is hard to uproot. I’m grateful for your beautiful authenticity. It helps to feel connected in the working out of it all. Thank you.

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