The Perfectly Imperfect Life of a Mother
As many of you may already know, I am in a graduate program for mental health counseling. In one of my recent classes, we were given the assignment to discuss a time when we learned a new skill, the journey we went through, and how we felt about the journey. Immediately, I thought of motherhood.
Before becoming a mother, I was filled with ideas and ideals of how to be a good mother. While rationally, I might have accepted the idea that there is no such thing as the perfect mother, I never really internalized that idea. Which, when I think about it is kind of ironic, since the last thing I would ever call myself in regards to anything is a perfectionist. In fact, if Type A= Perfectionist, surely I must be a Type Z. Nevertheless, filled with knowledge, I went into this new adventure with the belief that I could provide an ideal environment for my children that fostered all of the best qualities I wished to instill in them.
Well, that all pretty much went out the window from the time my labor started and our sacred birth plan was quickly abandoned due to a series of complications — a phrase that could perhaps describe not just the birth of my children, but really motherhood in general. One by one (or sometimes in droves), every ideal I had in regards to parenting and motherhood was quickly refactored into something that made my new experience little more than survivable.
Each time I compromised on my ideals, I felt a little pang, and wondered how another step down in my near-perfect standards would impact my children. I was convinced I was ruining them every time I put on the TV, fed them McDonald’s, lost my patience and screamed at them, left them crying in their room, or chatted with another mom at the playground instead of intently watching every move my child made, lest she injure herself, because, after all, an injury can happen in the blink of an eye (Thank You National SAFE KIDS Campaign for instilling a sense of uberparanoia in me).
And then, one day, a few years ago, I looked at my kids — I mean, really looked at them, reflected on them, observed them. And I realized, actually, they’re pretty terrific kids. They’re smart. They’re kind. They’re creative. They’re well mannered and well behaved (for the most part!). They’re curious, they’re fun, they’re affectionate. They, in short, are all the things I wanted them to be and thought I had to be the perfect mom in order to achieve. But somehow they turned out that way in spite of my less than perfect parenting. And it started to sink in — I AM a good mom, there really is no such thing as ‘perfect’, and that’s a good thing. Because perfect is boring. My kids, my life, is anything but. And I wouldn’t have it any other way because my life is perfectly imperfect.