From the backseat I heard my daughter drop her snack cup. Then I heard her mumble the “D” word.
Trying not to make a huge deal as my other two were listening, I simply explained even though she was frustrated that is never an appropriate word for children to use and not anything I expect to hear pass her lips again.
“Do you think when you are frustrated Sis you could find another word to use instead?”
Thinking I had deescalated that situation like a champ she responded.
“You mean use the s**t word instead?”
Oh Jesus please take the wheel as I might run off the road.
One day in the midst of madness with three kids ages 3 and under I had an epiphany. Which is amazing unto itself because I had been deprived of any REM sleep going on almost four years at this point.
“Who says I have to be a perfect parent?”
Truly when it’s said and done, who are these judges holding me to the standard of perfection? Who is going to admonish me if I don’t come close to the set bar? What if I never pick the bar up off the ground, then what? Is there a Perfection Police roaming around looking to ticket just barely making it moms? Who demanded my end game be perfection?
On my second pregnancy my firstborn was just one year old. PBS was my Nanny and Guilt my Bestie.
At a playdate another mom of an only piped up how she only allowed her toddler one Curious George episode per week. One a week y’all!
And not even the whole Curious George show – like literally one of the 12 minute stories. That’s it.
Some of the other mother’s nodded and admonished screen time and how they were kicking it to the curb too. I started counting how many Curious George full episodes I had let my little one watch as I battled morning and afternoon sickness. It was ugly. Both the sickness and the hours of TV.
But at home as I turned PBS Kids to that crazy, misbehaving, pantless monkey I whispered “it’s alright son, at least I know you won’t stab me in the night with a butcher knife because you never got to see George explore the countryside.”
But I held that Mom in such high regard for her perfect-like-parenting. And every other mom who seemed so much better than me in this role.
Anytime I saw another mother winning at motherhood, I instinctively chastised myself. Instead of seeing in the moment she was having a win, I believed the lie all of her moments were perfect. And I was not.
Nowhere was this journey designed to be one of perfection and ease. We have been called to show our flaws to our children so in fact they may grow up understanding when mistakes are made – and they will be made – to pick themselves up, learn something from it and do better the next go around.
In fact I’ve come to the conclusion that motherhood has been preparing them as much as it has been repairing me.
The People Pleasing – Type A – OCD’ish – girl who must have every list checked off, everything in its place and everyone loving her will at some point drop all the self-inflated balls she’s taken upon herself to juggle. It is humanely impossible to be a perfect wife, a perfect parent, a perfect neighbor, a perfect daughter, a perfect sister, a perfect co-worker and a perfect friend all at once.
Something has to give.
In this coming New Year why don’t we give up the exhausting expectations we hold for ourselves. Let’s retire the ridiculous standards of perfection that are only followed by the agony of defeated mommas because life happens.
Can we agree to accept and maybe even try to enjoy the chaos in this journey because you can’t spell “journey” without the letters that spell “joy”?
And speaking from experience, when we allow perfection to be the only standard, then we will miss the joy and the reason for this journey all together.