Letting go of “perfect”

by | Feb 22, 2021

Mother guilt is a real thing. There are countless articles (and Pinterest quotes) that tell us to stop being so hard on ourselves and to let go of the guilt. If only it were so easy, writes guest editor Bailey Schneider.

If you’ve ever wondered if you’re a good mom, then please know that it is more common than you realise. The irony is that if you’re wondering it, you care enough to worry about it, which means you’ve already answered it. Yes, you are!

I read an article recently that really made me feel lighter. When last did that happen? The heading read: “Why your kids need to see you as a ‘bad mom’.” I was intrigued. Let me quote from the article:

It defines a “good mother” as a woman who always puts her children first. A person with endless streams of patience. A woman who cooks organic, homemade food—but also makes sure to stay on budget. A woman who might have a job, but would *never* prioritize work over her children. A superhuman creature who sacrifices sleep, and her sanity to meet her child’s every need, 24/7, 365, without a village. A person who can add pandemic home schooling to her to-do list, while also keeping her job and paying the bills. A woman who is willing to completely sacrifice herself. But also would never “let herself go.”

Are you not absolutely exhausted by that? It feels absolutely impossible and is leading mothers to burnout. The reality is this isn’t even human, and I know moms are often superheroes, but this is pushing it.

Have we forgotten that mothers are human? We have strengths and weaknesses, needs and wants, bad days, good days, days in-between and we are flawed. Nowhere is the word “perfect”, and yet, we are somehow meant to live these “perfect” lives, have “perfect” life balance and raise “perfect” children. Talk about being set up to fail.

I’m currently reading Glennon Doyle’s book Untamed: I’ve just started it and am already loving it. I’ve also started following her on social media and I love the nuggets of wisdom she shares.

She shared this on her Instagram page: “It’s so important to be a ‘bad parent’ because if we embrace our imperfections, our kids can release themselves from the pressure to be perfect. Read that again.”

She continued: “Guess who raises people who embrace being fully human? Parents who embrace their full humanity. Try. Screw up. Apologize. Rest. Try Again. Repeat Forever. That’s the plan. Only way to be human. Only way to show little ones how to be human.”

Doesn’t that make you feel lighter?

Now, I want to be clear. When I say “bad parent”, I’m not talking about abusive, neglectful parents. That’s a whole different story. I’m talking about “bad” in the sense of these ridiculous pressures we put ourselves under or the idea that putting ourselves first, having identities outside of motherhood, or not being perfect makes us bad mothers. It also reminds me of the quote: “Work like you don’t have children and raise children like you don’t work.”

In a world that seems to be so tumultuous at the moment, I often look at my boys  (3½ and one year old) with all their innocence, purity and joy and I often think: What world have I brought them into?

As a mom, I want to protect them from it all, but I also want them to be confident to navigate this cruel, crazy, beautiful world with humanity, strength, wisdom and kindness! Our children look to us for their safety, their reassurance and their guidance.

I’m aiming to be human – not perfect. To show my boys that it’s okay to be an individual with strengths, weaknesses, needs, hopes, dreams and flaws too! The world needs more love, kindness and humanity at the moment. So be human. Let’s show our little ones how to embrace their humanity too.