There Isn’t Perfection in Motherhood

There isn’t perfection in motherhood. I am good enough in motherhood just as I am, with flaws and mistakes.Perfection in motherhood coffee mom

Before becoming a mom I was addicted to the pursuit of perfection and equally addicted to the praise. I’ve been driven by being a hard worker, trying not to make any mistakes, I bounce balls continuously, and multi-tasking is my middle name. Chasing perfection feels like what I’m supposed to do because it’s what I’ve always done. Motherhood showed me this pursuit had to end, it couldn’t go on if I was going to be a good mom. There isn’t perfection in motherhood.

I mistakenly try to find the balance between work and being a mom.

I am flawed in how I mother. I say the wrong things, I am inconsistent, and I yell.

I am emotional and I cry at “inappropriate” times.

I am forgetful and try to execute the mental load of what it takes to run our family and I often forget things.

I regularly miss opportunities to be playful with my kids because I concentrate so much energy on executing the logistics of our home and family and trying to maintain some type of cleanliness.

When everyone else is doing well, then I take care of myself. I don’t make self-care a regular priority in my life.

I make mistakes in motherhood. I have flaws. I am not perfect.

Recently, I forgot my kids’ school lunches. When I got the email from my son’s teacher, my stomach dropped and I was in disbelief I had really forgotten and then I felt really awful. I had been so consumed with trying to remember the class snack, I forgot the lunches. Knowing if I forgot one child’s lunch, I likely forgot the other’s lunch, I picked up the phone and called my daughter’s teacher. Thankfully, both teachers found hot lunches for my kids. My daughter’s teacher took the time to update me after lunch and shared a story that another student told my daughter, “My mom forgets things all the time.” In a gentle way, the teacher closed the email with a friendly, “welcome to the club.” I confessed the forgotten lunch situation to my coworker and she said simply, “We all make mistakes.”

Why was it so hard to take ownership of this mistake and the many others I make? I am riding against the urge to keep pretending I’m doing motherhood in a perfect way. I like when people are gentle with me when I make mistakes, yet I don’t extend that same courtesy to myself. It has taken effort, I have learned to give myself permission to be flawed, and that mistakes are normal and okay. I’m still a good mom when I make mistakes.

This insatiable strive to do all and be all is exhausting. It feels good to release the perfectionism. It’s like putting on those cozy sweatpants you love wearing, you know they aren’t your best pair of pants and they may have old Cheeto dust stains, but damn they feel good. Letting go of perfectionism feels the same way. Once you can embrace that you and motherhood are not perfect, you can feel more at ease and be an even better you. John Steinbeck has a way of expressing this in the most beautiful way, “Now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” I can just feel my shoulders relaxing when I say that out loud.

We are supposed to be good workers, mothers, and be diligent about self-care and then when we aren’t, we self-deprecate, we look for the perfection and miss what is good; perfectionism just blacks it out. Striving for perfectionism in motherhood is toxic, it encourages me to reach for the unattainable and it purposely makes me miss the good that I am doing. Good, not perfect, but pretty darn good. This is who I am in motherhood; pretty darn good but not perfect.

How do we accept that there isn’t perfection in motherhood?

We are first honest with our reality. Perfectionism never really made me feel complete instead it drove me to be constantly critical of myself and strive for more, endlessly filling, but never becoming whole. In perfectionism, there was always more to have, to seek out, and more to become; nothing was ever good enough, including me. I don’t want to live that way in motherhood because living that way makes me miss the simple joys of my life.

My husband recently had a serious back injury and has been disappointed with his progress. He shared his frustration with me and said that he wished he was much further along, and he thought he should be doing so much more. When I found my husband in the basement at the beginning of his injury, he couldn’t stand or walk. Now, here he was weeks later and he could stand. Standing next to me he was sharing his feelings of inadequacy and perfectionism. I said to him, “Don’t measure yourself by what you think you should be doing. Measure yourself by what you are doing.” It’s a good reflection for a person recovering from injury, but it also rings true for us as mothers.

Celebrate your milestones in motherhood, not your perceived missed opportunities.

The old perfectionist in me would let my mistakes linger in my head for days. Continually beating myself up and replaying the situation. Now, I know my list of joys and good things I do as a mom, exceed the mistakes I think I’m making. I’m human, I’m a mom, I’m okay with being a member of the forgetful club.

Perfection in motherhood boy and mom

My hope is that I continue to learn how to evolve in my motherhood. I want to be thoughtful and analyze the behaviors that I’ve grown to accept in myself and question their relevance in my life and in motherhood going forward. Shedding my skin of perfectionism in motherhood is my first step towards finally accepting that I am good enough just as I am, I can be good without perfection. At the end of the day, I need to ask myself, do I want to raise perfectionists, kids who never make mistakes? No. I want my kids to grow up being themselves, not perfect, but kids who try their best, love deeply, and give to others.

There isn’t perfection in motherhood. I am good enough in motherhood just as I am, with flaws and mistakes.

Photos: Sarah Hudson Photography

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