816 North

The not so lonely confessions of a hot mess mom

“You’re a hot mess.”

My daughter was giving me a concerned once over. I stood a little taller to claim the whole half inch that I have over her, but I had nothing else in my empowerment arsenal except admitting the truth:

“I am.”

It was true.

I couldn’t remember the last time I had a real haircut, I was wearing a shirt that was stained within an hour of dressing and I had just dropped a glob of yogurt on a school permission slip. I had been racing around eating a snack and panicking because unless I broke several laws, both civic and motion, I was going to be late for an appointment.

(And show up with a stained shirt, but not with my tummy grumbling so there is one for the success column.)

Did I want to be less of a mess and more of a composed woman? Sure. Could my life look more like the many pinned, yet not implemented, images on my Pinterest boards? Sure. Did I care that I, and it, wasn’t? Not really.

There was a time when I would have. It feels like failure to look in the mirror and see a disheveled face with an expression that admits to a disheveled life. It feels like letting down all of women- and mom-kind by not being role-model worthy. It feels embarrassing; it feels lonely.

But it’s not and that’s why I didn’t care.

After many years of life observations through friendly conversation and a casual study of social media, I’ve learned that every time that a habit or action that feels Hot Mess worthy is admitted, there is always a chorus of, “Me, too!”

Don’t get me wrong: this isn’t an excuse or permission to let my life and body remain in a stagnant state of messy-dom, it’s an affirmation that when it is I’m not alone. When I can do better I will, but beating myself up for not living up to an aspired standard gets me no closer to reaching it.

When I wash my hair with conditioner because I can’t see to read “shampoo” on a bottle in the shower, I’m not alone. (Well, I AM alone in the shower.)

When I say something that sounded innocent in my head but came out quite the opposite, I’m not alone.

When I declare a Fend For Yourself supper night and stand at the counter eating Ritz crackers with Nutella and Cool Whip as my meal, I’m not alone.

When I have to rub out the crescent-shaped, black eyeliner smear off my lids because I didn’t wait for it to dry before I fully opened my eyes, I am not alone.

When I wear black eyeliner despite reading more than one article that told me to pitch it at 40, I am not alone.

I’m not the only person who has bought several new keyboards (and a laptop) because I spilled coffee on them and I’m not the only person with a bloody heel walking around the mall because I wore new shoes without socks. Again.

I’m not the only one who has gone out in public with pimple cream dried into a lovely shade of white on my chin and I wasn’t the only messy, late person at my appointment.

Next time your kid gives you a once over and declares you a mess know this: While perhaps momentarily embarrassed and quite possibly making internal promises that they are going to be more put together when they are your age, that kid still loves you.

And that feels like success. 

Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. To listen to the women’s history podcast that she co-hosts or to read more of her writing visit www.thehistorychicks.com or www.susanvollenweider.com.

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