I wanted to be that mom. You know the one. She makes homemade fruit snacks. Her kids are always sporting the trendiest clothes and the cutest hairstyles. She sews skirts and headbands. She’s heavily involved in her kids’ classrooms. She throws extravagant, themed birthday parties. She bakes fresh bread for everyone who moves into the neighborhood. She’s the “Yes girl!” You can always count on her to take on any and every project she’s asked to do. She spends blissful hours of one-on-one time with her children every day doing crafts, laughing and bonding. Her kids are never glued to a TV or an iPad. Drive-throughs and sugar? Not for her kids! Bribery and yelling? Not on her watch!
I was ready to ace the motherhood test.
Then I had kids. Reality set in. I made those homemade fruit snacks once, and they were disgusting. Not to mention time-consuming. I threw an extravagant, themed party for my oldest daughter’s first birthday, complete with custom invitations. Now, I’m lucky if I send out more than a last-minute text invite to a birthday get-together at the playground. I once sewed a couple of very imperfect skirts and headbands for my daughter, then ditched my sewing machine (and the swearing it induced).
Now that a second and third child have joined our family, my motherhood looks less like Martha-Stewart-perfection and more like sheer, messy survival.
Our dinners are basic, and my husband cooks them as often as I do. The kids dress themselves, and its not always pretty. I’ve been on time to church maybe twice since my baby was born a year ago. I’ve had to say no to a lot of things, and I’ve had to put myself in a lot of time-outs. I’m certainly not above bribery and I don’t have a heart attack when grandma gives the kids a bag of candy or we grab a drive-through cheeseburger.
Why do we moms sometimes feel like imperfect is synonymous with failure? Imperfect is not failure. Imperfect is real.
But I often still feel that mom-perfection pressure. I feel it when I see moms on social media who seem to have it all together. I feel it when I’m wearing my unwashed hair in a bun and run into the mom at Target who’s all done up (and so are her kids). I feel it when instead of being with my kids all day, I have to hire a babysitter and leave the house to get some work done (or just take a break for everyone’s safety and sanity).
I feel it when I compare myself to the mom who shows up to church on time with her well-mannered, bathed and beautified children as I perpetually show up twenty minutes late, my kids looking a little rough around the edges as we do the walk of shame to the metal chairs at the back of the congregation. I feel it when I have to throw our healthy dinner menu and my mom-perfection pride out the window and let my husband cook waffles for dinner.
Wanting to cook great family dinners, delivering treats to neighbors and doing crafts with kids are not the problem. The problem is feeling like I have to do all of those things all the time, and feeling inferior to the mom who does.
But you know what? The deeper I get into this parenting thing, the more I realize that behind every mom who seems to have it together, there’s a mom who is tired, just like I am. A mom who loses it with her kids from time-to-time. A mom who orders pizza instead of cooking on a busy night. A mom who is perfectly imperfect, just like me.
Why do we moms sometimes feel like imperfect is synonymous with failure?
Imperfect is not failure. Imperfect is real.
Let’s face it. When it comes to this motherhood thing, we’re all just winging it.
We’re all just trying to raise happy, kind kids the best way we know how. And we’re doing what we need to do to keep ourselves sane while we’re at it. If that means you need to hire a babysitter from time to time to work or even just to have a break from mom life? Go for it, sister. If you’re not into making from-scratch dinners for your family every night and opt for takeout instead? Nothing wrong with that. If you love throwing all-out birthday parties for your kids, power to you. Send me an invite.
But can we all agree that being a good mom doesn’t have a specific look? Like the thrift store jeans in “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” motherhood looks a little different on all of us.
So let’s make a truce in this weird war of mom-perfection. Instead of playing the comparison game, let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt and do what we can to help and encourage each other.