A Perfect Mom Is The Worst

Once upon a time, my son got an aquarium full of fish for his birthday.
Not long after, I accidentally killed all of his fish.
Something about aerating a tank?!? 
This is a fun fact he does not let me forget.

Last week, when I meant to say, “Let’s go, dudes,” to my kids, I said, “Let’s go, boobs!”
In a very loud voice.
Across the house.
My children have not stopped talking about boobs. Lovely.

I yelled at my daughter today for something that was not even a big deal and would not have bothered me on any other day.
But today I am stressed out thinking about some things.
And she got the unfair brunt of my nerves.

I think reading aloud to my kids is basically the ninth circle of Dante’s inferno.
It makes me cotton mouthed and annoyed.

I eat lunch in my dining room with the lights off (less stimulation) and forbid my children to join me.
They don’t listen, of course.

I’ve called my son a jackass to his face. Twice.

I have ugly moments.
I say words I wish I could take back.
I make promises I don’t keep.

I am an imperfect mom.
I fail everyday.

And yet…

I have an awesome relationship with my kids.
They talk to me about their day.
I tell old stories.
We hug and kiss.
We laugh til it hurts.
I scratch their backs.
They play with my hair.
They ask hard questions.
We have dance parties during school.
And sing Let It Go in the car.
We giggle at the boys’ crushes.
And beg Chloe to tell us hers (she never does).
They pretend to be grossed out when I kiss their dad.
We talk about the small things in life.
We dream about their future together.

For all of the ways I fail, I am not actually failing my children.

I have probably said this a million times, but I will continue to beat this drum: being an imperfect mom does not make you a bad mom. It makes you normal. 

Somewhere along the lines, normal became second-class.
And the unattainable, perfect mom became the standard.

And I would make the case that it’s ruining everyone.

I find that women are hardest on themselves. So let’s forget about you for a moment and think about your children. And the example we set for them.

When your daughter has kids of her own…
She’s been up all night with a teething baby, and it’s her turn to bring snacks to her toddler’s preschool…would you tell her to buy a box of Goldfish and call it a day? Or would you insist she brings whale shaped sandwiches with vegetables made into silly faces?

You’d tell her to bring the damn Goldfish. (You can cuss; she’s an adult now.)

 photo IMG_5593_zps71s6ta3b.jpg

Your son marries a precious girl who :::gasp::: loses her mind days after returning from the most magical honeymoon. Do you want your son to freak out and wonder if he made the wrong decision? Or knowingly buy her brownies, rent a sad movie, and agree that this world is an awful place and how dare they!

So he may not be that intuitive, but at least he saw his mom do this every month for 18 years a few times and knows to tread lightly.

Perhaps it’s time to treat yourself with the same kindness and respect you would give your grown-up children.

I usually try to be nice, but for a moment, let me be blunt:
(Outside of the obvious of abuse and neglect)
Striving for perfection is probably the worst thing you can do for your children. 

People are human. They will always act accordingly. They will be beautifully imperfect. They will succeed. They will fail. They will laugh. They will cry. There will be great joys and horrible losses. Some days are extraordinary. Some days never end.

Letting yourself be human and normal and every thing that comes along with that gives your children the freedom to do the same.

Striving for perfection will leave them anxious, incapable, and distant. While leaving you burned out, bitter, and frustrated.

The great paradox of it all is that relationships are best built in the messiest parts of life.

Every time my son talks about the fish I killed, our whole family laughs at my expense. Not that I recommend killing your children’s animals, but this mistake of mine has made for a very funny memory.

My daughter forgave me quickly after I sincerely apologized. And now she has the tools to handle herself when she loses her mind someday.

You know by now that I barely feed my kids lunch as it is; I am certainly not making food into anything special.

There are times to make childhood magical, of course.
And there are a handful of moms that enjoy making animal-shaped food. For which I say, “Get it, girl. You do you.” I hope you know it’s not about the food.

Our culture is taking the fun out of parenting by putting so much pressure on parents. I would venture to say that if parenting is overwhelming (newborns, notwithstanding) and it all feels like too much…there is a good chance you are putting unnecessary expectations on yourself.

We all do it. 

And yet kids require so much less amazingness than we think.
Quality parenting was never meant to be an unachievable high standard.
Your child would rather you sit and talk with them than make every meal from scratch.
A family game of bowling is as fun as an elaborate birthday party. And way less stressful.

Do awesome, memorable things. Of course. Your kids will love it. And so will you. But if every moment is epic, then no moment is epic.

Take away the “should’s” of your life…what you should do, who you should be, how you should act…and instead enjoy who you actually are and what you truly enjoy doing…THAT is the key to being an awesome mom.

The best possible mom for your children is the one you already are.

If my children can love a fish-murdering mom, your children will surely survive eating carrots in their native form.

“The most important thing she’d learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” – Jill Churchill

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For more relief and encouragement in your parenting journey, check out my book today!
Cupcakes On A Tuesday: Sweet Relief For the Early Years of Motherhood.
A quick read that reminds you of everything you’re doing right.
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56 thoughts on “A Perfect Mom Is The Worst

  1. Thank you for writing this. I needed to hear it and will remind myself of it often. I hadn’t thought about the example I have been setting by thinking of myself as inadequate (although I try to keep that thought from my children so that they do not feel guilty).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Thank you for the post on being HUMAN! I was, and have been for years, feeling guilty for not being able to be a Perfect Mom. So many issues, so little time!!!!! I will never forget how I am feeling right now….

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for writing this! I have been feeling very overwhelmed the last two weeks and mainly because of pressure I have put on myself to be everything for everyone and be this perfect mother and wife and failing miserably. I try and remind myself of what really matters, but reading your article helped.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As a “veteran mom” of four boys 18,16,13,and13 I was a perfectionist ( which nearly killed me – post partum after the twins and a ‘4 year old and 2 year old. I have learned to let stuff slide ( we all can ) but we can still have expectations — I am sooo proud of my college freshman and a lot of what I did was worth it. It will happen with my others too. Let the little things slide, try your best ( but it doesn’t have to be perfect ) accept help/ ask for help ( my mom is an angel ) understand that your kids will make mistakes too, don’t judge ( and don’t compare. You got this MOMS❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on and commented:
    I feel as though this was written right from my heart… My heart for moms everywhere, even women thinking of becoming moms and dads too, is to be a MARY not a MARTHA. Be still and leave your messy kitchen sink, your unfolded laundry, and sit down and truly listen to your children, truly show them you care through snuggles, listening, being silly and setting down your phone and chores… Children want nothing more from you than attention, affection and joy. None of those are found in fancy homemade gourmet chicken nuggets, a dust free home or perfectly organized drawers… They are found in the in between moments, the messy moment, the hard to find moments. They are only hard to find because we are always looking for a big moment to connect, the reality is that the big moment is happening 100 times per day in the drawing they desperately want to show you, in the tooth brushing and gargling they want you present for, in the silly minutes we spontaneously dance with them or read them one more book when it’s an hour past bedtime…those are the BIG moments. We must listen to our children now if we want them to talk to us about the big stuff in life later, because to them, it has always been big stuff ❤️ So cut yourself some slack, remove your expectation of what you should be doing, and just do what your heart has always wanted to do for them, that is all you have to do…the rest of the stuff will get done later and that’s okay. I’d rather have a “lived in” home full of messy moments and lots of love and laughter, than a perfectly put together home where the moments of mess stress me out, and the moments of laughter are happening while I am busy cleaning and cooking. I want to be IN those moments, not around them, what about you?

    Liked by 2 people

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  7. Can we be best friends? No but really I loved this. I totally internally shame myself for giving my kid animal crackers and goldfish when I’m pretty sure my diet as a kid was 90% that, and I’m well adjusted. We really do put a lot of pressure on ourselves and each other. This made me laugh but also put things into perspective during a time I’ve been running myself ragged, so thank you!!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. As a psychotherapist who deals with the fallout of overparenting (& of course, permissiveness or downright neglect), I’m so impressed with your down-to-earth, SPOT ON advice. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. “If every moment is epic, then no moment is epic” perfectly stated, I love you for this, this is what I needed and will remind myself of this very honest post, (that honestly everyone needs to hear.) When I have time, (<haha…time), I love making homemade stuff but on the days where I want to throw in the towel, it is a Smart Ones frozen meal or Eggos for dinner…I've noticed when I'm less stressed and not feeling rushed that my children are happier and that is truly what it is all about 🙂 thank you for this amazing post!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Very nice article. I constantly worry about the small things that I am doing or not doing that add up to ruining my child’s life, but your description of your relationship with your children despite those problems is so reassuring and answers the question that I ask myself and my wife daily, “How do other people do this????” They don’t. Well, some of them might, but most of the people are just like me and you, failing all the time, every day, no matter how we try.

    But that’s okay.

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. Lol!!! Right now I’m reading Harry Potter aloud to my kids, so it’s fine because it’s a book that I’m more than a casual fan of. 1) I hate reading anything else aloud. 2) I kick my two younger boys out of reading time every night lately because they’re f****** ruining it for me when they won’t be quiet. Hagrid’s voice is complicated and I need my f****** focus.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The 6th birthday party, in our backyard, when I lit the candles and had everyone start singing happy birthday without realizing my son was in the front yard. Ha!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve been battling all week with my inner demons of “greatness” and “perfection”. I have changed my decisions and thought patterns when the phrase “when did ______________ become an unacceptable ____________” more than once this past few days. Thank you for this perspective and encouragement.

    Liked by 1 person

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  16. You mean the fact that I could have cared less about cooking until one night at dinner when my 10 year old daughter pled with the Lord to “Bless this food that has been thawed for us” means I am still OK? Whew, came out of that one with barely an eyelash, (the rest have been falling out lately)
    Thanks for young wisdom. It is refreshing.

    Like

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  21. Spot on! This whole pressure put on moms by society, by media, by all those Pinterest boards that tell you how to perfect every single aspect of your life, has to stop. It’s unreal, it’s damaging, it’s not worth it. Do your best, that’s always enough!

    Like

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