Oh dear. It is finally spring in Minnesota, and the neighbors on three sides of me have been busy edging, cutting, and spraying their grass. When I drive by their homes, I see lush carpets of green covering their lots. Their lawns look almost fake, they are so beautiful. Their children are grown, and they have the luxury of hunting down every stray clover, every last crabgrass and waging war against any green thing without the word "fescue" in its name.

My lawn, on the other hand, is what I would call "bio-diverse." With young children and busy jobs, my husband and I these past five years have barely had the time and energy to run a mower around the yard on a weekly basis, much less primp and pamper our grass. Because I have a healthy (or not) paranoia of pesticides and chemicals, I refuse to spray the yard. Our lawn turns into a beautiful carpet of yellow each spring when the dandelions start to bloom. I've tried to dig them out by hand -- the "green" way to handle such an infestation -- and gave up. The "bloom" lasts for two weeks and during that time, we mow repeatedly to prevent the yellow carpet from going to seed. As the bloom fades, the dandelions turn green and just add to our motley carpet of weedy greenery. While I wait for the bloom to subside, I cringe at what the neighbors must think. 

Abe's good friend, Jonny Batman.
My four-year-old son Abe loves superheroes. He talks about Avengers, loves to wear his Ironman t-shirt and pretends to rescue people. And he is not alone. His cousin Simon, who’s the same age, just had a birthday party where everyone was invited to wear a cape, and his good friend Jonny often comes over wearing his own favorite Batman cape. Little boys love to be heroes. And in the past week I’ve realized they’re not the only ones. I wanna be a superhero, too.

Oh, I know I have no real superhuman powers, no ability to fly or inordinate amount of physical strength, but I find that I want to rescue people just the same. This has been true since I was quite young when my dad lovingly coined me, “Kendra: Defender of the weak.” I’ve always been someone who likes to fight for the underdog, meet a need, or jump on board a cause. And these are not bad things, in fact, they can be very good things. 
I got Elle in the mail this week. Bemused, I looked at it twice to make sure it had my name on it. Yes, that was me. It took me a few minutes to realize I mistakenly thought I ordered Elle D├ęcor (which I love), not Elle. Good thing it was only $5 for the year. 

There’s a reason I usually don’t buy fashion magazines. I stopped doing it back in college when I realized that I always felt depressed and discontent after reading them. I would see all the beautiful people that I wanted to be and things I wanted to possess and I thought, This is not worth it. 

But its arrival came on the heels of a week where I’ve been thinking a lot about beauty. Our pastor’s Mother’s Day message was on “True Beauty,” and I’ve been thinking about what that means to me.

Noelle, pondering her own considerable beauty
But even though I privately thought about it, I still hesitated to write this post. Because, let’s face it, no one likes to think that they worry about beauty or could ever be considered vain. Maybe they secretly sing the lyrics to “I’m Sexy and I Know It” or “You’re So Vain” in the shower (I’m more of a whatever-they’re-singing-on-The-Voice kind of a girl, myself), but nobody thinks – Yes, that’s me. Totally vain. 

And then last month I felt convicted about it, in a funny-now but not-so-funny-then kind of way. 

I’m a mediocre mom. There, I said it. I feel so much better. Well, sort of. Let me explain.

In the past few weeks I’ve had other moms comment to me about how I must be so much more
patient than they are because not only do we have our own children, but often foster children as well.

I’ve heard comments such as “I would love to do foster care, but I already get so mad with my own kids,” or “Oh, you‘re just gifted to do this!” or “You’re just so loving!” And I smile and say “thanks,” not sure quite how to respond. 

Because the truth is that I don’t have a lot of patience. I have a tendency to get frustrated very easily with my kids. Sometimes I yell. I’ve been known to tell my kids to “leave me alone, mommy needs a minute.” I could never home school my children, because the half-hour of homework each night right now is enough to send me through the roof and receive a sideways glance from Kyle as he asks, “Why are you so mad?” To which I respond, “I don’t know!” 

I see moms on social media who love snow days with their kids, who plan all sorts of wonderful activities and outings, who post pictures and updates of all these amazing moments with their kids…when all I’m trying to plan is how I can somehow leave these children for a few moments to go grab a quiet cup of coffee with a friend. 

True confession: I am simply just a mediocre mom. At best. 

Hello, my name is Kristin, and I have Mom Guilt.

If you’re not familiar with Mom Guilt, you’re either not a mother or you’re in denial. Seriously. 
The sources of my Mom Guilt
Mom Guilt is that insidious voice inside that tries to tell you that you’re not good enough. It’s the one that says you’re not doing enough, or you’re doing too much, or your children are naughty or rebellious and it’s your fault, or someone else could do it better. It tells you that you're failing.

It's funny because Mom Guilt actually starts before your children even arrive, back when they are still in utero. Suddenly you can’t eat deli meat or feta cheese or a have a sip of wine without feeling like you’re maiming your child for life. 

But unfortunately it doesn’t end there; it spreads.

Last week was tough. I’m not going to lie. We got a call over the weekend that our adopted son’s biological mom had just died. Did I know any relatives they could call to notify? they wondered. I did not. Kyle and I spent the weekend praying about how Donnie would take the news, what we could do to help, and how we’d need to rearrange our schedule to accommodate this most tragic of news. 

Having and raising children born of you is hard. Keeping and raising children not born of you is harder still. I have had to discuss things with my children that other parents usually don’t. We’ve talked of death, divorce, addiction, abuse, love, imperfect parents, mental illness, adoption, ongoing relationships with family and more. And all in a way that is very personal to my kids, very personal to me. In the context of it happening to us, to them, not to others outside of our circle that we simply pray for and move on. My children, in many ways, don’t have that luxury.

My adopted children are beautiful. And strong. And imperfect. And broken. And resilient.