Don’t get me wrong. I was planning to be THE perfect mother.
How could I not? I mean, after all, you only get one shot at being the perfect mother. They grow fast, I had been told. One shot to make all those perfect choices which determine the fate of these lives entrusted to me. I’d sculpt a picture-perfect childhood for all of my children.
I did my best, but it wasn’t really enough for my inner critic. I read every parenting, education, spiritual guidance, nutrition and pediatric medical book I could get my hands on. I signed up for mommy and me classes. I made bread from scratch, baby food carefully produced in my processor, cloth diapered their bums, I made sure our home was a language rich environment and we did math while baking - perfection was the aim.
All of you *aiming to be perfect moms* get it.
Your list of perfection may look different from mine but, nevertheless, there exists some imaginary measure of “perfect.”
I didn’t know that in the attempt to be a perfect mother, I would sometimes be left feeling guilt-ridden about somehow missing the mark. There was a critical voice I’d hear that would bring me down. Sometimes loud, sometimes subtle, telling me I was falling short.
And. I was.
I mean, after all, how can anyone remain perfect through the trials and tribulations you can never really plan for…
We had splendid years as I was striving for perfection, but my standards were a little unrealistic and I was pretty hard on myself.
It wasn’t always a big, loud voice, but I did become aware that the internal self talk was a bit harsh, and it was weighing me down to feel like I wasn’t ever doing a good enough job as a perfect mom. I would never speak to my sister or my friends with such criticism, why speak this way to myself?
It took some years, and I am grateful to have finally accepted that the perfect mother doesn’t exist. My children preferred the real and raw human being that I am anyway.
Through practice and patience I learned grace with myself, I learned how to redirect that hard critic tearing me down little by little and lowering my energy.
One day it hit me.
What if, just WHAT IF these babies chose me, not for my perfection but for my imperfections?
Being a mom, willing to show up as imperfect, has led me down paths I would have never embarked on otherwise. I’ll never forget how odd I felt in that uniform that first time I stepped into the most masculine role of my life: Cub Scout den leader. I’d do anything for my sons. I certainly had no idea what being in the cub scouts or being a den leader entailed – and perfectly imperfect, I took it on. Hiking up mountains with a den of boys in tow and my baby on my back, these were some of the most cherished years of my life.
Becoming a cheer mom was new, definitely out of my wheelhouse as I’ve always been more of the bookworm type! Not once but TWICE I’ve had the honor to be cheer team mom and while I’m pretty sure my daughters think I’m a little awkward, I know they’ve been grateful for their perfectly imperfect cheer mom who takes a ridiculous amount of photos and videos at games and competitions!
So, for today, my youngest daughter and I end up in my closet where my sewing machine and table are set up. I, hanging a weeks worth of laundry which had been piling up, while listening to a podcast I’ve been intending to catch up on. The host is dropping F bombs once in a while as my daughter glances over at me with that hysterical wide-eyed look as if we’re both in on some illegal conspiracy together. I pause the podcast every so often when she has a sewing question.
The scene I would have created 20 years ago was not this scene. The “perfect” mother would never be multi tasking, she’d never listen to a podcast dropping F bombs in front of her child. She would have slotted out a solid 2 hours for this one-on-one project, prepped for hours with a perfect sewing pattern, set up the perfect sewing space, providing undivided instruction ….
Yeah well. I am no longer striving to be that fantasy of a mom.
I managed to finish the laundry, podcast complete, without a sewing pattern, she made an amazing bed for her rodent and we shared priceless smiles, giggles and learned that her legs have gotten too long for our makeshift contraption bringing the sewing machine pedal higher for her reach.
The years do fly by and I find that we are all happier once I realized that the imperfect is actually the perfect.
Mother’s Day is a great time to give ourselves the gift of grace!
Happy Mother’s Day to the Perfect and Imperfect Mamas. xo -a