As a woman and a mom, I feel like I have a lot of high expectations to live up to. We have so many rolls to fill and are always expected to be at the top of our game. We have to be flexible, loving, strong, patient, entertaining, positive, creative, inspiring, tough, and responsible. The list of characteristics is endless! We want to be good mothers. Actually, we want to be perfect mothers. We compare ourselves to others and think we aren’t good enough. This pressure we put on ourselves can be stressful and overwhelming. As a first time mom, I’m learning that there needs to be a balance. I owe it to my son to be the best mother possible. I also owe it to my husband, family, and friends to be the best woman possible. However, it’s not necessary, and rather unrealistic to be perfect at both.
Since I was a little girl, I have always been an over-achieving perfectionist. As a child I wanted to be perfect in school and the best athlete on the team. In college I wanted to get perfect grades and become the perfect teacher. I was not blessed academically or athletically, so I had to work the hardest in order to achieve my goals. My friends, family, and teachers have always described me as someone who goes above and beyond in order to do my best. Now that I’m a parent, I find myself trying to be the perfect mom and wanting my son to be the perfect child. I’m slowly but surely realizing that this is not healthy for myself or my son.
I am strong and I am fragile. I need to remind myself that I’m allowed to be both. I take pride in being the strong woman I am. I can handle and manage a lot. I like to try my best and be the best I can at everything, but I don’t have to be perfect all the time. In fact, trying to be the perfect mom and wife has caused great stress and sleeplessness. I have made way too high of expectations for myself. I should be allowed to have some not-so-perfect moments. Just because my child cries in a restaurant, does not make me a bad parent. I am allowed to make him chicken nuggets for dinner every so often. Not every food I give him has to be organic and I can’t expect to avoid ALL plastics ALL the time. I don’t have to sign him up for every music class or sports camp. There are no written rules to follow, so why do I need to be judged? It should be okay for me to lose my cool every once in a while or to cry when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I can’t and shouldn’t be required to hold it together 24/7, 365 days of the year. How about a night out with some friends occasionally? I need that time to vent, relax, and de-stress. And, of course, I can take that time to brag about my kiddo a little bit!
I’ve learned a lot from the eyes of my child. He lives so freely, fearlessly, and joyful. One minute he is getting in trouble for climbing all over the couch and the next minute he’s onto another fun activity (or maybe he’s trying to defy mommy by climbing on the couch again). He falls and scratches his face, but forgets about it 30 seconds later. He can be crying one second and laughing the next. Maybe adults need to learn to move on from troubles more quickly. Maybe we need to stop dwelling on hurt and smile more often. Maybe we need to be more adventurous and have more fun. Life as a toddler is worry-free and happy. I don’t know about you, but I could live with a lot less worry and a lot more happy!
I need to stop second-guessing myself. I need to be confident in myself as a parent and know that I’m not messing up my child. I know who I am, I know my child, and I know what is best for us. I’m trying my best, I am being the parent he needs, I am enough. Who cares what Google says or what another person is doing. We live our lives and you live yours. Let’s stop being scared of failure and disappointment. Rather, let’s live freely and enjoy the little things. Live for the imperfect moments that lead to memories. Live for the cuddles, eskimo kisses, rough housing, messiness, and all-around bliss. Let go of perfection and embrace happiness.