Seeking Perfection in Motherhood

“I was a great mom. And then I had kids.”

I have always wanted to be a mom. Raise children to be kind, respectful, generous children. As I grew up, I imagined how fun it would be to go grocery shopping, take them to the park, eat popcorn and watch movies all day long. I imagined all the fun crafts we would do and all the educational activities we would do together.

And then I had kids.

And while it is truly awesome to be a mom, I definitely had serious misconceptions:

  1. My kid will happily sit in the cart while I grocery shop.

I have actually become that mom that yells down the aisle “Yeah, they are mine”, or most recently, “Please just stand by me, you are making me that crazy person who yells at their kids in the grocery store!”

When I only had one tiny baby, I saw a woman yelling at her two toddlers while loading her car with groceries. And when I say yelling, I mean she had lost it. I remember feeling so bad for those kids. How dare that mom be so mean! And now looking back, I feel so bad for that mom. I have been there. I have felt that insanity. I have felt that break in my system where there is no positive outlook or twist that could make me feel better about the situation. Sometimes, kids just suck. And I have learned that I can’t control their behavior. But I can control how I react to their behavior. I am still working on it.

  1. My family will go out to dinner and we will have a relaxing dinner without electronics or toys.

If it keeps them quiet and happy and allows me eat my food before it is cold, give it to them.

  1. My kids will be ALWAYS be kind and respectful.

Teaching a two and four year old how to be nice and kind and thoughtful all day long is nearly impossible. We are all allowed to have bad moments or bad days.

I strive to teach my children how to treat others with kindness, always put others before themselves, and to find ways to make other people happy. And that is a HARD lesson to learn. They want the toy that they want. They want a certain seat. Sometimes they don’t even want the seat, they just don’t want someone else to have it. My kids are not always respectful. They are not always kind. But we work on it daily.

  1. My house will be clean and organized.

I’m lucky if there isn’t toddler poop in the toilet when people come over.

To be honest, I have never been a super clean person. I used to thrive in messiness and clutter. Growing up, you couldn’t see the floor of my room but i knew where everything was. But as I have gotten older, I want to have a clean home. I take pride in the space I have created. And yet, I live with three tornadoes. I try to pick everything up while they wreak havoc behind me. It’s hard and frustrating to feel like I have not accomplished anything in a day.

  1. I will cook dinner every night and have well balanced meals.

“Hubby, Can you please just bring home pizza?”

I actually really enjoy cooking. But I also REALLY enjoy the simplicity of picking up food.

  1. My kids will have clean faces and done up hair. Their outfits will match and be appropriate for the place we are going.

My daughter wore a panda costume to preschool and my son refused to let me wipe his face after lunch so we went to the grocery store with him covered in spaghetti.

Could I have forced my daughter to take her panda outfit off? Yes. Could I have pinned my son down? Yep. But instead I embraced their need to control something. I’ll let them win this one.

  1. I will take time for myself and not “let myself go”.

I’ll be honest. This one hurts. And It wasn’t until I really tried to start taking care of myself that I realized how much of myself I had lost in becoming a mom. I was no longer enjoying this chaotic, amazing, infuriating stage of my life because I was unhappy with myself. I started working out, I started going to girls night and started setting up dates with my husband. I started to think of myself outside of just “mom” and I became a better mom because of it.

I spent years as a teacher and all around me were hard working women who were also moms. They always told me, “I’m a better mom because I work. It allows me time to miss my children, to remember just how much I love them and helps me to reset every day.”

I have no desire to go back to work. I want to raise my children. And I realize not everyone has that luxury. I also understand that need for a distraction, a break from the chaos of home. It is important to take time for self care. When we get burnt out, we can’t be the mom our children need.

There’s a reason we have to put on our own oxygen mask before helping others. If we can’t take care of ourselves, we will be useless to others.

Every day I wake up with only the best intentions. I want my kids to have the best day, and laugh and create, use their imaginations and eat well balanced meals. And then my daughter cries because all she wants is lucky charms cereal, my baby spits up on my just put on outfit, and My son is devastated because I didn’t turn on the right TV show, all before 7 am.

Every day I try to be a little better but more often I feel defeated. It’s so easy to look on Instagram and think, “I cant even get my kids to sit next to each other, how did they get them all to smile.” Or, “I changed out of my pajamas into yoga pants. How does she have time to get that ready?”

And I’ll admit, someone even said it to me once, “You look so put together on your Instagram. I dont know how you do it” and I laughed. The misconceptions of Instagram have caused us all to think we are less than.

I am sure there are parents who really do have their stuff together. I am just not one of those parents. And I am beginning to be ok with it. I may not have it all together but I have three gorgeous, fun loving kids, who think I’m pretty awesome and that’s enough for me.

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