Being a perfect mum is over-rated

`Not perfectLet’s face it, we all want to do a good job as parents, but we’re never going to be perfect. And that’s OK. In fact I think as mum’s we owe it to our children to NOT be perfect. Imagine living up to somebody who’s divinely perfect – depressing! No, we need to show our children that we are flawed and at times that we are sorry. But never, ever perfect.

I propose we aim for being ‘enough’. We each have different circumstances and characters which keep us from parenting perfection. We may have to return to work when the baby still needs us, we may suffer from stress, anxiety, Post-natal depression, we may simply need a break more often than they would like. And we can suffer all those things and still be enough.

In fact here is why I’m not going for perfect:

If we ourselves are ‘perfect’ then it teaches are kids that they too need to be perfect. It teaches them that perfection is important. It really isn’t. Love is important. And perfectionism isn’t love, it’s tiring and it’s foolish. Love isn’t always perfect, it grows and part of that growth comes from our mistakes, therefore love is in fact imperfect.

Getting things wrong can be fun. Recently I faced one of my bigger fears: I got lost on the Motorway (Argh!!). My husband had no phone and the 3 people I phoned could not decipher where I was based on my panic-stricken shouts. The baby was crying and shouting the entire time and the toddler was begging me to look at her painted face whilst choosing to ignore repeatedly that “I CAN’T LOOK AT YOUR FACE WHEN I’M DRIVING ON THE MOTORWAY!” When I eventually spoke to my husband it turns out that miraculously I had got myself onto the right motorway and was on route to Bristol. I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked my Toddler for staying calm in my panic. Toddler, now munching on biscuits doesn’t even look at me when she replies: “I wasn’t scared, I just showed you the way” and the baby is now laughing her head off at nothing. This wasn’t a perfect journey but I learned that kids barely notice when we make a mistake. And sometimes, just sometimes it  can end with laughter.

I find that for my sanity it is important to bond with other mums. I also find that the best way of doing this is by talking about our imperfections, not about how well we are doing. I find comfort in brutally honest conversations, and I find Real Friends when I can bare my imperfections and they are met with an “amen”.

Trying to do things perfectly is kind of arrogant (sorry), because if I’m perfect then are the rest of the parenting population wrong? No. Let’s accept that we are all different, beautifully and imperfectly different. When we try to be perfect, we are focused totally on ourselves, because kids really don’t care if we get everything spot on. They want to know that they are loved and what better way to love our kids than to tell them when we screwed up and say sorry.

Let’s not love our kids by trying to be perfect, let’s love our kids while making mistakes, being honest and having fun.

Because being perfect is over-rated (I assume so anyway).

Face paint

What’s wrong with being wrong?

Delilah2As mums we all want to do a good job – of course. But there’s more to it than that; for many of us there’s also a fear of failing, of getting it wrong, of seriously screwing up our kids. And we probably will… My parents were amazing, perfect? No (sorry mum). They made mistakes which created behaviours and fears in me that I don’t particularly like. But they did the best they could, just like I am, just like you are.

I think we should embrace being wrong, talk freely about our mistakes, our fears, our true feelings. Let’s face it we’re all making mistakes, is it better to hide them away or share them? Hiding them won’t make you feel better, believe me I’ve tried. There’s a pretty good chance that other mums are making the exact same mistakes as you (or worse) and I feel much more connected to an honest mum, someone who trusts me with her ‘dark side’. Let’s not hide our mistakes, let’s own up and really connect. What’s wrong with being wrong? A cliché I know but getting it wrong is how we learn, how our children learn.

Here then are some of the mistakes I’ve made during my parenting (mainly with baby number one… poor thing):

  1. I was so afraid she might die without me in the room that I took her around the house with me: into the kitchen to make a cuppa, into the bathroom to have a wee… Everywhere. And guess what? She’s almost 3 and she hates being in a room on her own.
  2. At around 6 months I finally left her while I cleaned my teeth just once, and she fell off the bed
  3. I was much less afraid to leave baby number 2 but didn’t think not to leave the baby and the toddler alone… Toddler fed her a crisp at 2 weeks old and pulled her out of her bumbo and dropped her at 5 months.
  4. I once put baby 1 “safely” down in her car seat outside… right next to my sisters car exhaust while the car was running…
  5. I returned to work when baby 1 was three months old because I was “ready”. This is perfectly fine for some mums, there’s no judgement here. But I wasn’t really ready, I hadn’t yet adjusted to being a mum so no way was I ready to jiggle this and work. It didn’t go well.
  6. I was convinced that a ‘good mum’ was a fun mum therefore I played with baby 1 constantly and now I can’t go to the toilet without her asking when I’m coming back and what we will play
  7. I may have once or twice used the commonly used term: “Huh?” when I haven’t quite heard what someone has said and now the toddler says this same word after every single sentence… Sometimes before I’ve even finished the sentence.

I could go on… and on…

Some of my mistakes and wrong-doings were made out of fear (some just stupidity). And when I’m in fear of being wrong or causing my kids harm what am I teaching them? That I can’t be trusted to look after them, that they cannot be trusted to ‘survive’ or manage things by themselves, that being wrong is bad. Rubbish. I want to teach my girls courage, I want them to be (relatively) fearless, I want them to know that it doesn’t matter one bit if they make mistakes, get it wrong or in some way fail at anything.

Some of the things I’ve done wrong I can laugh at now (cried at the time) and others have had an impact on who my girls are becoming. Their behaviours and characters are being shaped by what I have done and said, what I continue to do… And you know what? No matter how wrong I get this, how badly I screw up at times it won’t make any difference to how much I love them. And I love them exactly as they are, odd habits and all. This means that no matter how wrong I get it, it can’t change how I feel about them. And that’s all they really need to know. My kids don’t need me to flawless, just to love them exactly as they are.

So I ask again, what’s wrong with being wrong? Huh? 😉