Last Tuesday was doctor day at my son’s preschool. I forgot to take a white dress shirt for him (never mind that men’s white dress shirts don’t live in this house anymore). He was the only one who didn’t have one. MomFail. I cried in my car afterward, praying I had not damaged my son with my forgetfulness.

My house is a mess. I work full-time from home, but I never seem to have enough time to clean it. When I do have time, I’m too tired, so I read to my kids, play games with them, or watch TV together instead. Some days we watch too much TV.

Some days we get dressed from the pile of clean laundry on the couch. … Okay, more than some.

We eat breakfast for dinner a lot. Cereal and eggs are easier and take less time to make and are cheaper.

I wanted to be a “room mom” and help out at my daughter’s school, join the PTA, and bake cookies. But I have to work, so I don’t get to do that. My life looks different from the picture I have in my head of what it is “supposed to” look like, so if I’m not careful, I can negatively self-talk myself to death. And I do mean that. I am my own worst critic. I can beat myself up like nobody else. It’s my natural inclination to look at and focus on where and what I’m lacking, but all that does is keep me focused on the wrong things. It also encourages a cycle of self-negativity and does nothing to encourage me to change or grow.

I mess up as a mom a lot more than I would like. I mess up in life a lot more than I would like. But I’ve realized something this week; I make a big deal out of things when maybe I don’t need to. We all need grace no matter what our MomLife looks like. And we all need to cut ourselves a little bit of slack. In reality, we’re all probably doing a whole lot better than we think.

My daughter passed her math facts test this week and today is on a field trip that she paid for herself because it made her feel good to use her own money. I discovered this week that my son, at four, knows all his numbers to 10 and most of the alphabet and their sounds, plus he can work a laptop mouse better than I can. Both of them are kind and thoughtful children. They don’t always think of others before themselves but they often do … sometimes better than their mother.

Am I doing as well as I would be if my life matched that picture in my head? Maybe not. But when does anyone’s life match the picture? Most days I am managing to do a pretty good job, though … and so are you. Maybe it’s time to take a new picture and replace the one in my head.

I am the mom my kids have for a reason — forgetfulness, messy house, breakfast for dinner, and all. Life is hard. That’s okay. Hard is good; hard reminds me why I’m here and encourages me to grow.

Oh, and my son? When I picked him up from preschool that day, he was smiling and had had a great day.