They tell me the perfect mom reads to her child for twenty minutes a day and does math facts and creative games. But the real mom in me is grateful that we were able to sit on the couch and I was able to read those two books and listen to the story in the midst of the bedtime craziness. And she’s grateful for the math apps on her phone and computer. This is where I learned about letting go of expectations and tried to see the doing your best instead.
They tell me the perfect mom makes three amazing balanced meals a day. But the real mom in me loves the nights when the kids tell me you’re the best mom ever in the world because I just made cereal simply because I was tired or the cupboards were bare. This is where I learned that my kids see the world different than me and that sometimes what I think is a good mom was based on a false premise and that what matters most is not what I thought it was. And to stock up on cereal.
They tell me the perfect mom is confident in her choices and doesn’t doubt her awesome. But the real mom in me worries. Sometimes I sit in bed at night and wonder if I’m getting everything done or if I’m screwing up my children or I worry about silly things. And then I worry if I’m being a good mom because I’m worrying about being a good mom. This is where I learned that worrying doesn’t make me bad but rather shows that I care and sometimes I’m thankful for Advil PM. But not if I take it at 3am and need to get up at 6am. That is just bad.
They tell me the perfect mother takes care of herself. But the real mom in me is sometimes so exhausted that I don’t know how to take care of myself. Or I don’t like to admit that I need help. Or that I’m stuck sometimes in this cycle of I can do it myself that reminds me of when my youngest was two and I would wait what felt like an hour while he put on his shirt. This is where I learned to take that extra ten minutes in the shower and to be grateful for Netflix and to have close friends on speed dial.
They tell me the perfect mother doesn’t need to compare my life with anyone else’s. But the real mom in me sometimes gets stuck in jealousy or wondering if I measure up or well, comparing myself to everyone else’s and thus seeing all the places that I wish were different. And then grading myself with a much too low grade. This is where I learned that comparison kills my contentment. Like I mean wipes it out, smashes it to the ground, and throws salt in the open wounds of parenting. So instead of comparing I learned to be thankful for all the moments and things and opportunities in my life even if they may seem small.
They tell me the perfect mother has kids that complete things at certain milestones. But the real mom in me has kids that learned to potty train at different times. Or they read, sat up, walked, laughed, clapped, memorized the multiplication table, and on and on and on at different times. This is where I learned that those guides were just guides. And that potty training is perhaps the least most favorite task on my list of things one must go through as a parent.
They tell me that the perfect mother is calm and under control and makes great decisions all the time. But the real mom in me deals with anxiety at times and doesn’t like that feeling. And sometimes it doesn’t make sense to anyone else out there in the world but in that moment all I know is that anxious feeling of feeling like I’m not accomplishing everything that I’m doing. This is where I realized how much I let that comparison and worry and all of that stuff create havoc in my mind. So I learned to have a friend to call or that sometimes it’s okay to watch Shark Tank on Amazon Prime and to let the dishes go because as you read above I’m learning to take care of me without guilt.
They tell me that the perfect mother has many friends and is socially connected. But the real mom in me sees the limitations of our social media like this share this tweet this world and longs for days of connections with women and sometimes feels lonely. And sometimes I’ll let unneeded busy keep me from reaching out to those around me. This is where I learned to pick up the phone and say yes to my friends or that sometimes great friends can be those online friends and I’m thankful for messenger on Facebook or group boards.
They tell me that the perfect mom loves every single moment. But the real mom in me knows better. She knows that there are moments that completely suck in the middle of motherhood. Like vomiting without aim two year olds. Tweens that are moody. When the kids fight over ridiculous things and then move to the next ridiculous thing and to the next and it’s freezing outside and there are not enough rooms in the house to separate them for the moment. This is where I learned to let go of the perfection of the perfect day and instead learned to be grateful for beautiful moments in the midst of the crazy. And where I learned that it is perfectly acceptable and needed at times to put the kids in the car and to drive to Starbucks for not only coffee but adult conversation in the drive thru window. (so SORRY to those behind me on those days as I might just chat extra long at the window…)
They tell me that the perfect mom know that the kids grow fast. But the real mom in me has days where it doesn’t seem fast enough yet she doesn’t want to admit that for fear that she’s not a good mom. But, in reality, it’s just that the day is one of those pull your hair out crazy days and there’s no coffee and even though I love my kids I’m just tired. This is where I learned that sometimes the most beautiful moments in life come in the unexpected places and those times when you say with exasperation what do you need now?? will, of course, be the times when the kids will be excited to show you the picture they drew of you and or say I love you. (Yep, experienced that once again.) But after that I learned the power of slowing down and looking the kids in the eyes and saying I love you and I’m sorry and You’re important to me.
They tell me that the perfect mom has a clean and organized house and Pinterest boards to prove it. But the real mom in me just laughs. She laughs because anytime you deal with creatures under ten there is bound to be a mess. It doesn’t matter about rules being set there will still be a mess. This is where I learned that messes don’t define mothers. And where I learned to open the door to my house and to not apologize for the mess because the second that I apologize for normal living then it sets the precedent for my friend that she can never have dirty dishes on the counter if I come over.
They tell me the perfect mom serves only organic food, no sugar, and anything else you can think of. But the real mom in me is sometimes super grateful for the canned beans on her shelf. And still loves her Coke even though she’s seen all the Pinterest pins of it cleaning toilets. This is where I learned to never judge any other mom by the food that she serves, the clothes that she wears, the parenting technique she employs, the feed choice made when the kids were babies, the school choices and more. This is where I learned to love moms for who they are and not the individual choices made.
They tell me that the perfect mom never yells. But the real mom in me yesterday yelled up the stairs to the boys that were being just boys that I need them to stopping yelling. And then I stood at the bottom of the stairs and laughed at the irony of my own statement. This is where I admit to you all about those ironic moments in life. Or all the times I said because I told you so when I told myself I would never say that to them. Or when I had the moment when I though I need to call my mother and apologize because I soooooo get it now.
They tell me that the perfect mom doesn’t exist. But the real mom in me still feels this unwritten pressure to do more, be more, laugh more, create more, cook more, bake more, volunteer more, drive more, help more, and clean more. This is where I learned that more doesn’t mean better. And that what the world of social media and books and entertainment and all of that doesn’t define motherhood.
They tell me this.
But I’ve learned to love real.
Because that’s where we all really are anyway.
They tell me the perfect mom is well me. Not for having it all together. For never making mistakes. For having perfect kids. Or an unbelievably awesome house. Or stellar birthday parties. Or an ideal life. But, well, rather, just for being me.
The perfect mom is the real mom who makes mistakes. Tries again. Loves her kids.
And knows she doesn’t ever need to be perfect to be unbelievable.
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