Everyone knows that a toddler who is out of your sight for 8.4 seconds will find their way into your computer, open up Amazon, and accidentally order a new bike and a wheel of cheese. That’s just a fact.
It used to be that when parents looked away to sneeze or something, toddlers would climb the kitchen counters and eat all the cookies that were hidden up there. Now, instead, we’re all one unsupervised click away from being the proud owners of size 11 bowling shoes or a book on how to identify wild carrots.
I’m not sure it’s an improvement, honestly.
It’s not what I was hoping for in the evolution of toddlerhood.
There is probably a list for this somewhere on the internet: 6 DIY Projects to Make With The Immersion Blender and The Toe Socks Your Toddler Ordered When You Weren’t Looking! Number three is a succulent planter.
The internet has a list for everything. Top 3 Tantrum-Busting Guitar Solos. 7 Foods to Stop Eating Before Your Hair Falls Out. 5 Best Tips For Organizing the Disaster That Is Your Kitchen and Let’s Not Even Talk About Your Closets. The other day I read one called 10 Ways To Calm Everyday Anxieties.
This is, obviously, an area of interest.
Do something with your hands, the article said. Try knitting, it said, or worry beads.
What are worry beads, I wondered?
Are they easier than learning to knit? I looked it up. Oh, worry beads are the same as prayer beads. Aha.
I put that information on the shelf of “things I will probably never think about again, even though they may be helpful or interesting,” right next to the DIY immersion blender/succulent planter, and there it sat.
Until I noticed an email from Amazon the next morning. Good news! The prayer beads you bought with one-click ordering have now shipped!
The what are what, now?
When you are worried that your kids will do something embarrassing or inappropriate or accidental, like place surprise orders over the internet: that’s how you know you are about to do that thing your own self.
I logged in to my account, but there was no option for “stop delivery on thing I did not mean to order.”
When you fill out the return form, under “reason for return” there is no box to check for “I guess I touched the ‘buy with one click’ button on my phone screen when I, out of sheer curiosity, price-checked this item.”
I marked the box for “I changed my mind” instead.
Self, I thought, you are fired from looking at things on the internet.
Self, I thought, you are kind of a mess. The kind of mess that purchases perfumed strings of sandalwood beads without even knowing it.
See, I forgot who I was for a minute there.
I don’t mean that I forgot that I am the kind of person who accidentally orders prayer beads. I knew that.
That’s the same kind of person who forgets to put the most important grocery item on the list every single time. I’m that person too. But I knew that, I did.
No, I forgot to be the kind of person who says, It’s okay. You’re human, you don’t have to be perfect. I forgot to be the kind of person who says, It’s cool. No big deal.
I forgot to be the person who responds with love and gentleness.
But then I remembered. I remembered about truth and grace.
It was about how we’re all kind of a mess, sometimes. We all make mistakes. We’re all rocking in the same boat out here. That’s the truth, we all need grace, and we all always will.
If that’s true, and I believe it is, that means that none of us, not any of us, has it all together.
Including you, including me, including our future selves.
This makes sense, because none of my past selves ever had it all together, and my present self doesn’t have anything together—but I was still holding out hope for my future self. Maybe she would get it all together! But I’m starting to think that she’s going to be just as human as the rest of us.
Things do change. Times change. People change.
We’ll get better at some things, we’ll realize we need help with other things, but we’re always going to be human. Always. Like, the whole time we live on this earth. All of us.
Still living in the truth that we still need grace.
You can reinvent yourself each and every day. You can accept yourself as you are. Both are perfectly valid choices.
But you aren’t going to reinvent yourself into flawlessness, and you can’t accept yourself into perfection. Either way, there will be some messiness.
This is kind of a bummer, I know. But it does, at least, change how we respond when we realize there are surprise prayer beads speeding their way to us from South Carolina.
We can treat ourselves with patience.
We can show ourselves kindness.
We can forgive whomever invented one-click shopping, that we cannot now figure out how to turn off.
We can live with purpose, and we can remember that our purpose isn’t “make no mistakes.”
We can all shake our heads and laugh.
We can be human. That’s kind of our job.
It’s our job to keep showing up, to keep wading through the weeds of the everyday.
It’s our job to keep moving along on this journey from glory to glory.
It’s our job to love everybody, including our own selves.
It’s our job to keep on being human, even though being human means that we remember who we are, and we forget, sometimes both in the same breath.
And it’s our job to tell the truth.
The truth that even though being human means being kind of a mess, grace meets us in the mess if we let it. We don’t outgrow it, and we don’t stop needing it — but it doesn’t outgrow us, either, and it’s just waiting for us. That’s how things get better. Not by our fixing, but by our being human, and surrendering to grace, every day.