I’m not a perfect mom. Definitely not.
- I’ve yelled at my kid (who’s only 18 months.)
- I’ve given her french fries for a meal (or two.)
- I’ve changed her diaper, only to find an unknown poop that was there for… a while.
- I’ve held “couch afternoons” when I haven’t felt well (I will read, send her off to find toys, had her look out at the birds–but I’m basically just laying on the couch.)
- I’ve gotten frustrated and given up.
- I’ve given her cheese just to shut her up.
And the list goes on…
Lest you think I’m a paragon of parental patience and motherly virtue from my account of letting my daughter walk me, I’ll give you the flip side of that story. The truth is that I have created a bit of a monster. My little one is so in love with walking like a big girl that it is all she seems to think of. In the morning, she sits up from her sleepy, post-milk haze and
says commands “Walk.” If we sit still too long inside, she will bring her coat, hat, boots to us in a non-so-subtle hint. She bee-lines for the door as soon as we open it. And she practically refuses to sit in her stroller.
The other day, we took a bus ride over to another shopping area to hit a specific store. After shopping and a nap shorter than I’d hoped for, it started to rain. At first, the light rain was fun. We both had on boots and raincoats, and we laughed our way through a slow-paced amble back up the street. But then it started to rain harder. And harder. I decided to stop for lunch to hopefully let the rain pass. It did not.
“I’m sorry, Linden,” I said. “You’re going to have to go in the stroller.”
Even at 18 months, she understood this perfectly and immediately began to stage a protest.
I took her outside and thus began an epic wrestling match to get her into her stroller. It was so bad that our waiter came out to help strap the thrashing monkey child in. After trapping her, I walked as fast as I could in the pouring rain, desperate to get up to the bus stop and dreading the fact that we still had to take a bus, then walk another half a kilometre to our house. Meanwhile, Linden screamed a death scream, pulling off her boots and socks and throwing them into the wet street, treating me to the worst tantrum she has thrown yet. She was soaking wet, screaming, barefoot. People were staring, and one even asked what was wrong with her.
We made it home, eventually. And after cranking up the heat and changing into dry clothing, it was a couch afternoon–the effort of keeping my head had thoroughly exhausted me. [Morals of the story: check the weather; bring the rain cover for the stroller; get a second car; never let your child walk anywhere; don’t have kids?]
I’m definitely not a perfect mom. But I think I am an ok mom. I’ve apologized when I react poorly; I cook most of our meals; I keep her relatively clean; I let her walk and play outside as much as possible; I try to be patient; I am focussed on her for most of my day.
And the list goes on…
It’s dangerously easy as a mom to suffer guilt under the pressure of this huge responsibility, thinking that every mistake is a major failing, or imaging that other moms are doing so much better. Our ideals have value, to act as a guide for our goals and help illustrate what our idea of success looks like. But we cannot let ideals consume us. It’s important to remember that the main goal is raising a human. I see it as my job to show my daughter this amazing world, and help her find her place in it. That includes showing her what it means to not be perfect, because nobody is perfect.
More important than perfection is integrity in the effort. Because that shows that we care. And that’s really the most important thing of all–that we love our children and show them that love every day. Even if it’s from a lazy perch on the couch.
If you’re an ok mom and happy with that, what has it taken to get you to that point? If you’re not a parent, are there other areas of your life in which you’ve accepted inevitable mediocrity?
We’ve all been there. On the couch, that is. I used to force my third child to lie down and watch cartoons in the morning so I could sleep on the couch next to her. That was when she was a year old or so. Now she wants to watch a lot of tv. But she’s also very cuddly!
Haha at the cuddliness! Yes, I’ve tried to get my daughter to watch a movie or show when she or I are sick. She’s too busy to sit longer than a couple of minutes!
Thanks for reading! 🙂
Aaaah I remember these days oh so well! Frustrating yes.. but miss every minute! I won’t lie and tell you it gets any easier, but I will tell you, you will look back on these crazy days and know you were (are) the best mom. And how will you know this?? When your little girl turns around and she is this beautiful young lady ready for the world. Then this beautiful young lady turns to you, hugs you with all her might and simply says thank you… 🙂
Anonymous no, just me Tami P.
Yes, that is the kind of mom-success I aspire to! Thanks for commenting, Tami!
Oh, Jean, I wish you had taken a video with your phone. This situation sounds hilarious now but not necessarily at the time. Then you will wonder why Mom’s get grey hair. Remember to “breathe” and keep sharing.
Haha, yeah, a video would be funny now. One of the onlookers probably would have called CPS if I was making a video at the time!
Thanks for the tips–I take at least a few breathers per day when I can!
Ah yes…guilt and perfect parenting, I know these two well. Combine these with moms/dads who like to compare and compete, and you can have some miserable days. It sounds like you have a great handle on things. I liked your post!
Thanks for stopping by! Ugh, yes, the competition can be ridiculous. I feel lucky to have some very supportive and helpful mom friends that I feel I can be pretty real with. I find that so valuable.
Glad you enjoyed the post!
Great post, Jean 🙂 I think it’s been really helpful for me to confide in other parents who have the same imperfection struggles. So often we get this skewed perception that “I’m the only one messing up!” Nope, not at all! And you’re right–“integrity in the effort” (AWESOME phrase, by the way) is more vital to the whole parenting process than perfection or imperfection in the end result.
Thank you, Rowenna! Yes, it’s really reassuring to hear from other imperfect (normal) moms. And I think we frequently tend to share the rosy bits — who wants to admit to throwing cheese down to the kid like she’s some kind of animal, just so we can cook dinner?
A few articles/books I’ve read have noted studies showing that it’s not the “method” of parenting, but the fact that you’re engaged at all that makes the difference in how your kids turn out. My mother has also alluded to this–that the fact I’m obsessing and worry about how to be a good mom means that I already am doing pretty good. I find all of that reassuring, too!
Thanks for commenting! 🙂