Your kids don’t need perfect parents.
Seriously, I am breathing a sigh of relief right now. Aren’t you?
It has been my observation as of late, that parents everywhere have forgotten that they don’t need to be perfect. Instead, they are stressing out over this all the time.
They search Pinterest for pictures of ways they can make life perfect, from baby rooms to costumes to dinners. They beat themselves up when they lose their temper, even if the children are being super annoying for days on end. They even take pills or find other ways to self medicate when they don’t find constant happiness in the daily drudgery of motherhood.
Oh, and then they feel guilty for all of it.
Let’s briefly consider my world if I were a perfect parent.
If I were perfect I would wake up early every day, but I would still get 8 hours of sleep because:
Self control. (No Netflix “Arrow” binges for me. No way.)
I would then exercise (before the kids got up so as not to detract from my time with them) and then I would make them an awesome breakfast. Maybe something they loved. Every day.
Did I mention I did my makeup and hair? And it looks dang good on my perfect skin.
Then I would prep a yummy probiotic rich (yet nutritious and non-GMO) dinner, read books, minimize screen time, wash laundry with soap I made myself, and be generally awesome.
When the kids acted like Tasmanian Devils experiencing methamphetamine withdrawals, I would be be patient. I would never lose my cool. I would never raise my voice. I would be gentle. It would be easy for me, because in my free time I take parenting classes and read books written by people with one child who tell me how to be a good mom.
When the kids fight, make messes, do dumb stuff, ignore me, get mud on the floor I just mopped with essential oils, whack each other in the face with random sticks or jump on the bed, I would be chill and teach them gentle life lessons.
Actually, since I parent perfectly every day, they probably won’t do any of that stuff. Especially nothing crazy with a Sharpie and the door.
When it comes to bedtime, the routine will run smoothly, teeth will always be brushed in a swirly pattern, books will be read again, and they will be tucked gently away beneath clean sheets and fall quickly asleep. I have, after all, spent the last 10 years consistently teaching them how to sleep without harming their delicate psyches.
This will be awesome for everyone. Until, of course, the children grow up.
Then, one of two things will happen.
1) They will realize that they are not as perfect as me, their mother, and they will feel super sad about themselves. “Why can’t I control myself from watching “Arrow” on Netflix for six hours straight!? Mom always could! Why did I just eat a maple bar AND a croissant?! Mother always exercised self control when it came to carbohydrates!”
Thus begins years of self loathing, therapy, and bafflement over their inability to be Pinterest perfect. They may need to take a selfie and get hearts on Instagram in order to feel good about themselves.
If they called me to talk about life, I too would be baffled by their inability to get their crap together and stop eating maple bars.
It’s a sad way to live.
Behind door number two:
2) They will get a job, write with a Sharpie on the door, and be SUPER shocked when someone yells at them and fires their lazy, graffiti loving, butt. Then they will move back home with me because I am the only person who doesn’t lose their freaking mind when they act like a maniac.
Luckily for me, that will never happen and NOBODY (and I mean nobody) will ever want to move back in with me.
Here is how my day REALLY goes:
I binge watch Netflix. I get six hours of sleep. I work out (yay me!) and take a shower every day, but I really only do it for selfish reasons and because it stops me from jumping off the nearest cliff.
I cook lots of homemade meals, but I regularly fantasize about having enough money to never cook for my ungrateful family again. When you cook for six people, someone is always unhappy. (Unless you just make mac & cheese every day. Then, everyone gets sick and dies. Fail.)
My kids regularly act like drug addicted wilderness beasts and I do sometimes raise my voice, yell, freak out, and otherwise act imperfectly. I think they all live in fear of me getting rid of all of their toys in one of my minimalist purges when I discover dress up clothes on the floor…AGAIN. Sometimes I throw on a movie just to shut everybody up.
Lucky for me, when they grow up and they suck at being a human or being a mom, they know they can call me. And I will get it. Because I modeled so well how to be a lame parent on a daily basis. Plus, when they get a job and screw up, and get yelled at, they will not be heartbroken.
Maybe this whole post is just me justifying my sucky mom ways.
In truth, I do read lots of books, make lots of homemade meals, wash laundry with natural soap, and use a kind voice on a regular basis. I really encourage tooth brushing. For real.
I do stuff right. I try to model good behavior. But some days are bad. And some days are worse. Sometimes the best contribution I make in modeling good behavior is getting out of bed to do it all over again even though yesterday was a flop and I would rather feel bad about myself and eat chocolate. (Did I mention Arrow on Netflix? He makes everything alright.)
I sure as heck hope my kids don’t need a perfect parent, because they don’t have one.
They just need parents who try, parents who apologize, parents who forgive, and parents who are working on it.
And that – that I can do.
So can you.
Especially when armed with a maple bar…