You’ve heard of the amazing race, right?

It’s that T.V. show with real people going all over the world looking for clues reaching the next check point without being eliminated. The team—consisting of two individuals—overcome obstacles both physically and emotionally as they make their way on this amazing race hoping to be the final team standing at the end to receive 1 million dollars.

Have you heard of the amazing race back to school? It’s something I participate in every year now with my kids!

Let me tell you how my day started yesterday…

I woke up to the lovely cries of my 2 year old princess at… 5:14 am.

It was dark, and she knew it as she excitedly said, “It’s dark! It’s dark!” (Um, yes baby doll… its called time to continue sleeping! Ahem.)

I can’t even remember clearly what happened, but I’m sure something along the lines of trying to change her diaper occurred first. Then I vaguely remember asking her if she wanted milk and she shockingly screamed, “NO!” Totally uncommon for her to do so. I asked her to go back to her bed but she refused saying, “downstairs, downstairs!”

In my mind, I’m thinking, “Absolutely not!” Not yet, anyways.

Instead I scooped her up and stumbled back to my room, curled up with her in my bed in hopes she would snooze with me more. At this time I also noticed my husband missing! Glancing at the monitor I see him in my 4 year old twin boys room—sleeping—because of their 4:26 am wake-up call this morning. Yep, we’ve got light sleepers and early risers in this family, much to our delight.

As I snuggled in with my daughter bringing her in close next to me, strong little legs and arms flung violently as she screamed, “NO, I don’t want to go to bed!”

I had no energy or patience for this at, what was now 5:23 am.

I let her kick and scream and wriggle her way off my bed into a little pile on the ground next to it (don’t worry, she was not hurt). She sobbed her little whiny sobbing cry crumpled on the ground next to me. I could tell she was still tired and not ready to be fully up yet—or maybe that more correctly defined me?

Anyhoo, soon her whines and cries grew to whimpers and slight moans which turned to glorious silence. “Praise God!” I silently whispered to myself drifting back off to sleep.

A noise outside my dreaming state stirred me awake. Opening my eyes I see my daughter standing next to the bed playing happily with her baby monitor. I look at my phone… yikes, it’s 7:03 am!

The rush begins.

Breakfast is first. From about 7:15 to 8:05 A.M. I’m multitasking while working on getting enough food in the tummies of three highly distracted people (because they literally can’t sit still for more than a few minutes each day). In between, I’m trying to get a bite of food and caffeine in me so I can function (although typically I have to rewarm my coffee two to three times in the morning—however, lately I’ve been doing the iced coffee thang which has been MUCH easier!) In between calls for someone’s bum to be wiped or help with getting a glass of water, I’m getting my squeezed in spiritual nourishment with my devotional app to bring me into a glance of God’s Word–just a little something I can hold onto for the morning. (“Quiet times” with God are not always so quiet when you have kids.)

Next is trying to find cute CLEAN clothes to wear for the first day of school (yes I should have been that mom who picked out the perfect outfits the night before, sigh).

Two little shirts and one dress to put on. Two pairs of shorts. Three pairs of socks and shoes to place on their feet (don’t’ forget I had to do this two more extra times because one complained the shoes didn’t feel right, and one stripped them off as soon as I got them on).

Brushing three little people’s teeth is next (yes, I let them attempt to do it first, but let’s be real, I’m a Dental Hygienist. Enough said.)

Hair gel for the boys, and a messy pony tail for my little girl—I do this running behind her as she giggles, trying to run away from me and the whole hair ordeal.

Backpacks with three lunches in each. Water bottles filled and ready. We are about to head out the door…

Oh shoot! I’m still in my pajamas!

I take a total of 5.6 minutes to splash water on my face, sprinkle powder on my nose, cheeks and forehead to make my skin look a bit less staunchy. I throw my hair up in a hat so no one else wonders how long it’s been since I’ve showered. Brush teeth, yoga pants, tank top, sandals. Hmmm, Ok I think I’m presentable enough.

Getting out the door on time is a whole ‘nother fiasco. One is always lagging. The other is distracted easily. And my baby girl decides as we are backing out of the driveway, she wants her bunny, and Minnie, and doggy, and dinosaur, and baby before the seven minute trip to pre-school. (She got her bunny… if you were curious.)

The ride to school is a crazy loud mess as well. Between fights of what song they want playing… to asking loudly for mommy to stop singing and let the people sing… to dropping their water bottle and crying for it the whole way there, it’s a fun seven minute drive.

Let’s fast forward now. We are at the new Pre-K side of the school grounds and meeting the boys teacher for the first time! While so many other parents are dutifully taking pictures of their little one’s looking prim and proper and behaving as they are told, mine are so exciting about the new playground they head straight for the dirty sand pit.

Too distracted to get a decent shot, I got lucky enough to snap this one:

First day of preschool

I have no idea what the plastic blue thing is that Gavin picked up, but I do know other parents were fearful for their child’s life when he began swinging it around like a machete, pounding it in the sand making particles fly everywhere. All the while I’m trying to say my courteous “hello’s” to a few friends I see nearby while I’m secretly (or not so secretly) panicking trying to pull my little crew of three back together without looking overly frazzled.

Chaos. It is my life.

The storms begin to subside once I got my twins safely into their classroom. I wanted to scream like an umpire, SAFE!

Walking over to my daughter’s side of the school I began to sense the winner’s circle ahead. As she strolled in with no problem at all, I let out a huge sigh and wanted to dance right there in front of everyone shouting “I DID IT! MOMMY GOT THEM DRESSED AND FED AND WE MADE IT TO SCHOOL ON TIME AND WE ARE ALIVE! IT’S A MIRACLE!”

But then as I sat in the car and flipped open my Facebook feed for a moment of solace, I notice all the adorable pictures of my friend’s kids first day of school—so calm looking, so pointedly perfect—and realize I only got ONE picture of them, and not even a great one at that. Ugh, fail.

Are you that mom as well?

Do you feel the weight on you to have the Pinterest Perfect family posted all the time? Do you feel the guilt of being a bad mom because you didn’t get a cute picture of them holding a Pre-K sign? Sometimes I feel that way, even though I know I shouldn’t.

Honestly, I absolutely LOVE seeing all the pictures of my other mommy and daddy friends doing just that. The cute pictures of their kids for their first day of school is precious. Seriously, I do! I admire your abilities to do all of those things so effortlessly!

But I’ve realized, that’s just not really me in this season of life. And that’s OK! I don’t have to do everything I see everyone else doing in order to be a good mom. Even though I don’t have the perfect picture of them from their first day of school, it doesn’t mean I love them any less.

So if you are that mom who feels like you are failing, or not measuring up to some higher standard as a parent due to the inevitable pressure around you—which you place upon yourself based on the images you see—please know you are not alone. Also know the truth, you are NOT a failure. You are doing a great job at this whole daunting and hard task of raising your children well.

I see you loving on your kids as you wipe their noses and clean their bums for the umpteenth time. I see you working night and day to keep the family afloat with a roof over their head and food in their bellies. I see you sacrificially giving your time and attention to them on a 24-hour basis.

It doesn’t matter that your house is a mess, your clothes are a mess, and your pictures of them growing up look messy as well. Messy doesn’t equal unmerited. Our race may look different from another, but we are all on the same race of stewarding our children up in the way they should go. Whether it’s homeschool, private school, public school or some other mix in-between, we are all on this amazing race together.

So instead of looking downcast that your race looks a bit different and less glossy than another, let’s cheer each other on and celebrate our differences instead of letting the bitter root of comparison sink in.

I’m telling this to myself as much as I’m telling you. You don’t have to have it all together to be a good mom. You don’t have to be perfect in all that you do. You don’t have to live by a measuring stick that is not yours to hold in the first place.

We are all on the amazing race, my friends, to steward our children up in the way they should go. We will all reach that finish line someday with our unique stories in place to share and encourage one another through those differences. We will all shout out someday, “wow that race was hard, and I had to do things differently at times, but we did it!”

The amazing race isn’t about doing things perfectly, because there is no such thing as perfect. It’s why we must turn to Grace to fill in those gaps that we ourselves were never meant to fill.

**And how perfect is God’s Grace! He gave me a little gift today after I picked my kids up from school:

Gavin and Rylan Pre-K

… two kids with cute pictures out of three ain’t bad! Especially since I didn’t even take them!

{Do you have a story to tell? Share your R&R story here!}


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