By Laura Simon

I forgot about trash day. I was busy and tired last night, and I failed to notice that the other neighbors had put their cans at the curb. Usually I hear someone rolling theirs out, but apparently our house was louder than normal, too.

Anyway, as it always happens when I forget the night before, the trash men came early. I was already up, breakfasted, and worked out, but I was still wearing my fuzzy blue bathrobe while I coached my oldest son through his piano lesson. I heard the loud truck and assumed it was construction-related, but then I looked out the window. The garbage truck was one house away, and I knew we didn’t have space in our can to make it another week.

So I did the only thing a girl can do. I yelled at my son to “KEEP PLAYING!” (Yeah, right) and tore out the front door: barefoot, bathrobe-clad, sweaty hair in a messy bun. I peeled around the corner by our garage, slipped and fell sideways on a patch of mud, grabbed the garbage can and raced up the driveway, waving my arms and yelling for them to please wait.

In retrospect, they were already stopped. And staring. They might have actually been in a state of shock. I was in a state of something, that’s for sure.  My neighbor actually witnessed the event from her dining room, and she popped her head out the door and yelled, “Go, Laura, go!” I have no recollection of it. She had to tell me later. I was focused on one thing and one thing only: getting that truck to take my trash.

The garbage men recovered from their state of shock and actually tried to angle the truck to make things easier for me. Naturally, at that point I completely forgot how to operate a rolling garbage can, which resulted in even more special, bathrobe-clad moments in my driveway, trying to maneuver a garbage can into the claws of the waiting garbage truck. As he drove away, the driver tipped his hat and waved at me. Bless his heart. I’m sure I’m the story of the day in a bar somewhere. I’m glad I’m not there to hear it.

As I skulked back to my front door, wiping the red clay from between my toes and wishing that mortification would wipe off the same way, I discovered all three of my kids standing next to the window.

They were cheering for me. Like, jumping up and down and screaming. “Mommy, that was your best one YET!” my six-year-old exclaimed.

Yes, this was definitely not the first time I’ve run after the trash man. It wasn’t even the first time in a bathrobe. But apparently I hit some sort of measure for greatness that was previously unattained. It probably had to do with wiping out in the mud.

All that to say, I am a hot mess more often than I am not. I have more on my plate than any single human can possibly handle, and things fall through the cracks. The 25-year-old who taught all day in four-inch heels has been replaced by a 39-year-old who occasionally wears mismatched shoes because she got dressed in the dark.

And yet, when I scroll through my social media feed, and I don’t see anyone posting beautifully-filtered pictures of themselves cleaning red clay out of their toes. No one else seems to be seen in public in their bathrobe. Those insta-pictures are all perfect, and of course they are. I don’t post my hot-mess pictures on social media either, and fortunately my neighbor didn’t have her video camera out to record this morning’s hilarity.

All this to say, please don’t use social media as the standard by which you measure your motherhood. It’s so pretty…but it isn’t real. Use me, instead. I give you permission to stop scrolling and be grateful that at least you aren’t the woman running after the garbage truck in a bathrobe. And even if you are, that’s OK, too. Your little ones are not on Instagram. They don’t care whether you’re put together all the time or not. And by the time they’re old enough to care, they’ll also be old enough to drag that trash can out by themselves.

Problem solved.

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