Here is a view: a woman elbow deep in her small garden, kneeling in shorts that have a milk stain or two on them already and hair that hasn't seen a shower since yesterday. A toddler bent and focused on the green beans being picked, her feet tucked into sandals that need a good scrubbing and are on the wrong feet to boot; her hair is in desperate need of a brush. Behind them both a baby sits in a highchair in the middle of the yard, naked but for her diaper, cooing and babbling away at her family.
But who was viewing me so? A book salesman came peddling his wares today, catching me off guard and unprepared for company of any sort - even the transient kind. I felt incredibly backwater as I held my toddler tight to my side as I explained we'd already bought those books and were full up for the time being. Half way through the youngest began to fuss, irritated at being forgotten, I picked her up switching one child for the other on my hip. Once in my arms I discovered that not only was she naked but her face was covered with remnants from her much earlier banana snack. That was the icing on the cake: I was ready for the salesman to leave so I could run back into the house to shower and clothe the youngest and generally un-hillbilly myself.
But after some thought I began to consider: Do we not always see the worst of ourselves in our own reflection? Aren't there two sides to a mirror and if so, what other way might I have been perceived today?
Another view: A woman is elbow deep in her small plot of garden, her daughters close at hand. She is teaching a valuable lesson: reap what you sow, be resourceful. If her clothes aren't perfect it is because small hands have used her as a napkin or blanket depending on the need. If her hair isn't done it is because something more pressing has pulled at her attention: there is always one more book to read, one more game to play. Her daughter's shoes are on the wrong feet because she is an independent, do-it-myself kind of 3 year old. If her youngest is naked but for her diaper it is only to allow her to stay cool, to be more comfortable than anyone else is allowed to be in humid summer heat. The remains of bananas on her cheeks make me think: shouldn't we all be so covered by fun once in a while that even a good scrub can't get it all off?
The mirror of motherhood has two sides: It can be so easy to see only the harsher version, but to be able to see beyond to the side that rejoices in the very parts that make it unseemly is the challenge. My hope is always to look into the mirror and then beyond into the world where everything that I think marks me as an unkempt mother rather exemplifies my best attempts at motherhood.