There are beautiful benefits of being young. In my twenties, my body was tighter, my weight came off quicker, and my energy was boundless.
BUT -- and this is a HUGE "but" -- I lived in fear of everyone else's opinions of me, my actions, my children, my marriage, my house, my family. You name it, I was fearful of the judgment of others regarding it.
And THAT is the benefit of a few years. Gone are the days that I wring my hands over the comparison of myself to someone else. Why? Because I have decided that life is just too freakin' short to care about ALL THE THINGS. I will never measure up to someone else's standards, so why even try? And strangers in stores? I will never see them again, so they will just have to roll their eyes at me and my dirty-faced baby.
Because here's the thing: they don't know the chaos of my life. The many humans whose lives I juggle. The lack of sleep, energy, and cash. The frenzied rush that is every single one of my mornings and afternoons.
They also don't know the incredible JOY that I experience in spite of all the above. The way my heart jumps whenever my son dances or smiles his full-faced-Down-Syndrome smile. The way I laugh when my silly daughter dances or tells a joke. The feeling I get inside when I see my older son acting like a gentleman or being a total, complete BOY. The enjoyment I find from discussing deep and meaningful things with my daughter whose mind I can read. The satisfaction that comes from seeing one of my children choose to handle a situation in the mature manner that we've discussed a thousand times. The happiness I get when one of my kids laughs and I see unbridled joy in her face.
Sure, my son looks like a hot mess to The Strangers. But they don't know that the dirty-faced baby WAS perfectly clean when we left the house. However, he got cranky en route, so I gave him a snack that was, perhaps, ill-advised given the current state of his face. But he's not screaming anymore, so THAT'S definitely a win in my book.
SO. To you Young Ones who are reading this and who still care about all of the negative things that all of the negative people are thinking all of the time about you, here is my sage wisdom:
Let. It. Go.
There is such freedom and peace in accepting that, no matter how it looks to The Stranger, you are doing your dead-level best, and Jesus is smiling down upon those best efforts.
So this is what you do: When you are having a picnic lunch somewhere with your kid and -- Heaven help us all -- Mom next to you gets out her Bento box of carefully chosen food that lines up perfectly with the Food Pyramid for balanced meals and nutrition... while you toss down a $1 Lunchable or, better yet, a packaged peanut butter and jelly sandwich with 3 billion calories and 900 grams of sugar... You smile at that mom because she is straight-up killing it with her awesome food preparation! Yay for her! BUT you don't look down on her as an overachiever and call her "SuperMom" in your head. You don't get competitive with her. You don't apologize for your own (some might say) lesser meal. You don't start feeling like a loser or a failure. You just remember that you don't know her life, and she doesn't know yours. And then you remember that BOTH of the kids sitting in this space are having lunch with their moms who are saying actual words while looking into their actual eyes, and THAT is a WIN for ALL. Who freakin' cares about what anyone's eating anyway? Let it go.
Beautiful Makeup Stylish Clothes Mom walks up at the same time to preschool pick-up as Still Sweaty Haven't Showered Yet You. Yay for her! She looks AWESOME! But yay for you, too! Because you somehow managed to wrangle some me-time and a stress-reducing-semi-workout into your morning. And BOTH of you are about to hug the necks of your precious progeny while you listen to them gush about their half-day at preschool. Who CARES what you both look like? What matters is the two short people you are about to buckle into their carseats. Neither of your kids gives a rat's rear end about how you look. They only care that they are loved and cherished. Let it go.
Mom Beside You is nursing while you shake up the formula in the baby's bottle? Let it go.
Pizza for dinner AGAIN while you know your FB friend just rolled out a gourmet feast for her family AGAIN? Let it go.
Your bestie looks like a yoga instructor, meanwhile you are sporting jiggly thighs even though you have counted every calorie and made exercise a priority, but still the jiggle just won't go away? Let it go.
And if you feel like any of the above people are judging you while you choose to LET IT GO, then I bet you can guess what I'm going to tell you to do!
Let THAT go, too, Sister. Life's too short to spend it comparing yourself and your life and your stuff and your people to everyone else's version.
You do you, Chick. Let them do them.
Enjoy the freedom!