As I mentioned over on Instagram recently, May just might be short for mayhem. The slower pace of summer is just around the corner, but this final sprint is leaving me feeling slightly winded (so is running lately while pushing the baby in my mega jogging stroller). There are beautiful sacraments to be celebrated (my sweet Mary E. made her First Holy Communion last weekend), soccer tournaments, school parties, banquets, award ceremonies, and what feels like the culmination of everything! It’s all good stuff, but a lot of good stuff can still feel like a lot. Add to all of this a book signing and reading and a trip for Mom and Baby Charlie last week to EWTN, and here I am back home just barely treading water.
Last week I had the amazing opportunity to appear on EWTN’s At Home with Jim & Joy television show. It was a live appearance, so there wasn’t a chance for editing anything ridiculous that might have slipped out of my mouth. Joy was sadly not on the show due to a family tragedy (a 20-month-old baby in her extended family was found dead in his crib; please, please pray for the family), but Jim and I had a great conversation. (Thanks to everyone who has offered me positive feedback; your encouragement is such a gift!) True to Kate fashion, I mentioned poop several times. Yes, I said poop on EWTN. Not once, but several times. The producer joked that they were getting ready to start bleeping out my potty mouth. #gettingpastperfect
There’s my dad and Charlie hanging out in the production room during the filming.
Nope, I haven’t watched my segment. I have no desire to right now. A teacher from my kids’ school told me I’d surely give in, but I told her I doubted it. I have an uncle who’s an actor, and he doesn’t watch his television appearances either. The recovering perfectionist in me would be hyper-critical. When Dave and I were married, I purposely did not hire a videographer. (We also didn’t have digital photos because we were married in the Stone Age. My kids cannot fathom this.) I wanted to remember my wedding as the dream that it was, and I didn’t want to ever see it through someone else’s eyes or through the lens of my perfectionist self. The day was magical, beautiful to me, but I’m afraid if I saw it replayed later I might notice that my hair didn’t look as flawless as I thought. Or did I really say that? And why does my laugh sound like a dying porpoise?
Frequently, when I have a speaking event or an interview on the radio, TV, or a podcast, I’m initially pumped up and feel that God is blessing this little ministry of mine. But give me a few hours – or perhaps a day or two – and the self-doubt starts creeping in and I wonder why I keep putting myself out there. After my first big speaking engagement several years ago, I came home to total mayhem, and it wasn’t even May. I felt like I should never leave my family again and then when I didn’t immediately receive any feedback from the conference planners, I felt like I must have not delivered what they’d hoped or that my speech was a total failure. Never mind that immediately following my talk, I had people telling me how much what I said resonated with them and even a few people crying and thanking me for my honesty.
Good news is I’ve come a long way, and I don’t find myself collapsing into a big heap of self-doubt as much. Nor does the fact that my kids, especially the younger ones, are a little out of sorts when I return bother me so much or lead me to believe I can’t ever share my talents outside of the home. My kids miss me. The laundry piles up. I can tell I’ve been MIA even if it’s only a day away. But that’s okay. I’ll eventually catch up, and I’m not the end all. There are other people who can take care of my kids just fine.
In fact, after the EWTN experience, I didn’t second-guess myself much at all (partly because I didn’t watch my guest spot), and I even felt like a very qualified expert in “getting past perfect,” especially after my little boy had an epic tantrum at a restaurant not even 24 hours since I’d returned from my trip, and I had to hand off the baby to my oldest and carry a thrashing and very heavy child (he’s only 5 but recently weighed in at 57 pounds at an ENT visit) out to make our escape as very young employees stared on in horror. If you’ve read Getting Past Perfect, this proved to be yet another harrowing experience like the one I shared about with my little trip to the mall to meet a friend for lunch. Yes, I was tempted to either maniacally laugh or weep or do both at the same time. Miraculously, I kept my emotions in check and survived the experience. My son had a cold. He was tired. He’s my child who thrives on routine and when Mama is gone, his routine is out of whack. We’d restore the equilibrium…eventually.
That night when I was putting kids to sleep on my own (I was a solo parent all weekend as my husband worked 3, fifteen-hour shifts in a row. Wah, wah, wah. Hail me as the martyr mommy now), I thought that maybe I should watch my guest appearance because talking about motherhood certainly was sometimes easier than living it. I thought about how it’s very important for me to strike a balance between stepping out of my home to encourage others and staying in it enough to know what I’m talking about.
This everyday life of mine is what gives me the fodder to write and to encourage other moms and all women out there – to let them know that they’re not alone in their feelings of fear, frustration, inadequacy, desperation, anger, and isolation. It’s also this mothering gig that cracks me open to grace. It’s this grace that gets me through the tantrums, the tween backtalking, the nocturnal nursing sessions, the constant clutter, the tired kids who are as ready for the slower summer as I am…
Of course, it’s not all mayhem or clutter or defiant children. There’s a lot of joy, too. When I returned home from my trip, my 8-year-old Mary Elizabeth squealed, “Mommy!!!!” as she gave me a big hug. My oldest daughter has watched the YouTube video of me several times. “I can’t believe you don’t want to watch it! You are so good!”
My Rachel cuddled close to me at bedtime this weekend and said, “Thanks for all you do. You’re an amazing mommy!”
Thomas gave me not one but three bear hugs this morning. Charlie looks at me with his big, bright eyes and all I have to do is say, “Boo!” and he convulses into uncontrollable giggles.
Life is full. It’s not always easy. It’s sometimes downright hard. But it’s flecked with joy, giggles, and goodness, and I’m lucky to be living it and sharing it with others. Thanks for tagging along with me on this imperfect journey.
Now I seriously doubt you’ll be even half as excited as my niece was to see her Aunt Katie on television, but I’ve included the YouTube video of my appearance below for your viewing pleasure just in case Netflix has left you disappointed lately (I mean, really, what were they thinking with the “Anne With an E” series? Ugh.)
Another reason I’m afraid to watch this: Am I really frozen doing “air quotes” like our current POTUS has been known to do? Sheesh.