On Being a Perfect Mother

Thinking, feeling our way through motherhood.


By V.K. Harber


Hey, remember when you were growing up and you swore up and down that when you had children of your own you would never ever in a million years do that thing that your mother did? Yeah, me too. Yet, here I am, mother of my very own living breathing challenging toddler and I have, on more than one occasion, heard the very same words that used to issue forth from my mother’s mouth, pouring out over my own lips.


Sometimes, whatever comes out is the right thing for the circumstances. (Thanks, mom!) Sometimes it is most definitely not and an apology is in order. (Thanks a lot, Mom.) And sometimes, I just don’t know. (Thanks, Mom?) I find myself questioning, wondering, second-guessing, and otherwise doubting my abilities as a parent. Did I handle that properly? Have I scarred him for life? Does he understand? Did I turn out alright because of or in spite of [insert any parenting decision here]?


These are questions I ponder with a reliable regularity and while I do not wish to be the type of parent that raises their children however they were raised without much questioning or reconsidering, I also wouldn’t mind a break every now and again from the unrelenting self-analysis. I’d like to experience with more frequency that feeling that I get while I’m working. I believe it is called confidence.


I was contemplating all of this while I walked to the new coffee shop that just opened across the street from our apartment building. I ordered my Americano in broken Korean and found a seat. The barista brought me my coffee and there staring me in the face was this message: We think too much and feel little.


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I don’t love the idea of being called out by a coffee cup sleeve, but what can I say? Truth is truth, no matter the source. The fact is, I have had parenting moments when I’ve felt confident and sure. I’ve had these moments in the midst of my many questions, but they’ve rarely been as a result of me thinking my way to an answer. They’ve come when I’ve allowed myself to do what felt right – when I’ve responded to my baby’s cries immediately, and cuddled with him in bed, and nursed him on demand. I’ve had these moments when I’ve responded instinctively, in the moment. To be sure, my instincts have sometimes been wrong, but often they are right, and even if they are not perfect they are indeed good enough.


It is this lesson that I need to learn over and over again. All the thinking in the world will not make me a perfect mother. Nothing will. But if I can quiet my mind long enough to recognize what I’m feeling, I can be good enough.




About V.K. Harber


V.K. Harber is a yogi, writer and mother of one. She is the co-founder and former managing director of Samdhana-Karana Yoga: A Healing Arts Center in Tacoma, WA, a non-profit yoga studio.She currently resides in Seoul, South Korea where she works as a yoga teacher and post-partum doula. (www.vkharber.com) She is also a contributing writer at World Moms Blog and can be found on twitter @VKHarberRYT.

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