Don't get me wrong -- take all the parenting advice you can glean -- but realize that none of it will work if you don't have this.
"Hurry Up!!!" I yell at my 3 and 6 year olds. "Grab your coat...we have GOT TO GO!"
Two of the world's cutest girls stumble down the stairs and into the laundry room, apparently not phased by my militaristic yelling or apocalyptic warnings.
We are late...again...
We were supposed to be at my daughter's doctor appointment at 2:30. It's currently 2:25 and we live 20 minutes away.
I think you see where I'm going here.
Honestly, at this point and place in my life, I don't know why I'm taken off guard when we are running late to virtually every doctor's appointment, school meeting and birthday party...including their own.
Despite all of my planning and parenting hacks and getting up early, inevitably, someone has to go potty...or needs a snack...or has a meltdown...or can only find 1 of 10 different pairs of shoes...or falls getting into the car and can't survive without a thorough application of Neosporin and a bandaid on a non-bleeding bruise.
And yet, every.single.time I find myself getting frazzled. Getting frustrated. Raising my voice.
I can literally feel my blood pressure rising.
I'm flooring the gas...to what end I'm not sure since I pretty much always keep a 5-mile over the speed limit max.
And yet, somehow, the quick acceleration and subsequent slamming on the brakes makes me think I'm making good time and might, by some miracle, make it to the appointment on time.
We do not. We rarely ever do.
And all the while, in the midst of my daily near-nervous breakdown, I catch glimpses of my girls in the rear view mirror.
They are smiling and singing Taylor Swift. They are smacking on approximately 2o pieces of gum chewed in consecutive increments of 1 minute each. They are drinking their water and talking to each other.
They are NOT stressing.
My youngest calls my name and says, "I love you, Sweet Mommy." That's her newest term of endearment for me...Sweet Mommy. I'm liking it, though I find myself wondering how much I deserve it at the moment.
Despite writing an entire series on 31 Days To Be A Better Mom, I feel like I'm failing at it many days.
And then it hits me... this...THIS whole running late thing... is nothing.
I mean, it stinks. There's a good chance we are going to have to reschedule. And honestly, the thought of orchestrating another decent time slot between school and gymnastics and allergy shots makes me frown.
But in the grand scheme of things...this doesn't even deserve a mention. In 10 years when I'm reflecting on the joys and trials of parenthood, I am 100% certain I won't think about how we were running late to this appointment.
Because with a little distance...a little time...I gain the one thing that is critical to being a good mom:
The ability to decipher what's important in this parenting gig and what doesn't deserve a second thought.
And it dawns on me that so much of good parenting boils down to simply having...and keeping...perspective.
That stomach virus your entire family caught the week before Christmas? Despite the feeling of eternity, it's actually short lived.
The fact that your 3 year old is currently banning all leggings that touch their socks...in winter...won't last forever.
The sheer exhaustion you feel after playing whack-a-mole all night with kids that can't seem to stay in their bed? It will one day disappear and be replaced with an emptiness as they age and leave home.
The temper tantrum of epic proportions that was pitched in Target over not buying a bag of goldfish will one day make its mark in the retelling of "most embarrassing stories." Perhaps to your daughter's boyfriend.
All that's needed is perspective...the ability to see that these moments are all too fleeting. That what is infuriating today will be endearing tomorrow.
That the neediness from your 2 year old will all too soon be replaced by independence.
That the constant bickering you hear from your two children will soon be tears shed as one heads to college and the other is left behind.
Because, like one of my very favorite country songs, time marches on. And we are along for the ride. We can get stuck in first gear or we can look at the map and see we have miles to go.
So I remind myself that before I can blink, this day will be over. For better, for worse...it will be gone. The memories made today will be what matters...really, all that matters.
Not the fact that we were late for that appointment...Not the fact that today didn't live up to my expectations...Not the fact that we failed again at "perfect family of the year."
Because let me tell you my friend, if you are a mom, you can give up that idea of perfection.
Today is good...and you are good enough. And tomorrow is coming fast.
And if you can grab on to just a little perspective, you might just find yourself wishing that tomorrow wouldn't come quite so soon.