Let Go of Being the Perfect Mom With the Perfect Life

Filed under: Opinions

I participated in a Twitter chat this week in which the topic was "the perfect mother."

I can feel you cringing already.

More than a few moms, in the process of this chat, mentioned that the blogs of other moms often make them feel bad about themselves. They see perfectly-lit photography of a perfectly decorated and completely spotless living room and they feel embarrassed about their old couches, scratched-up floors and piles of dirty laundry. They see an avatar of a beautiful mom with beautiful children who makes beautiful gourmet food on a nightly basis and they regret the piles of pizza boxes and fast food bags crammed into their overstuffed trash cans.

It made me think back to when Martha Stewart Living magazine first came out. I remember feeling pressure boiling up inside of me just looking at the pages.

I can't do that. I can't do that, either. Where the hell do you buy that? THAT would require an assistant. No, three assistants. Who is this Martha lady and why is she doing this to me??!?

I made the mistake of thinking that Martha expected me to do all of the things she did, all the time, with no help.

Same with award-winning blogger The Pioneer Woman. I met Ree Drummond briefly at a conference last year, in all her gorgeousness. She's tall and striking, homeschools her children, cooks from scratch, writes books, is an awesome photographer, lives in a beautiful home, appears on morning shows, and, and, AND ... wait for it ... raises cattle. It overwhelms me to think of what a glorious woman she is. Yet, she's just being herself. She hasn't asked any of us to be exactly like her or to do everything she does, and if you look carefully you'd realize she has a supporting cast that contributes to her success. (If you looked even more closely you'd see she displays "Keepin It Real" photos that show what things look like when her house is messy. God bless you for that, Ree.) I think Martha and Ree are living life to their version of its fullest, and encouraging us to give some of the things they like a try, without any judgment or expectation that we will become them.

There's always a story behind the story, anyway. What we see up front isn't everything. We don't see people having fights with their spouses, feeling guilty when they worked all day and had no time for their kids, spending three days in sweats with zit cream on only to be photographed like a model on day four. We don't see them in the bathroom. That's the problem with perfection. We convince ourselves it exists when it doesn't.

Blogger Jessica Rosenberg shared a list of her imperfections recently in a post entitled "I'm Not Superwoman." She divulged that her kids don't get a bath every night, her bills are often paid late and her house isn't pretending to be "... anything other than sanitary." I love it when people are willing to be vulnerable like that, because it allows us to see that someone we may envision is perfect really isn't. They're just like the rest of us.

I do my thing. I try to be the best I can be, and stop freaking myself out over not being the perfect weight, in the perfect outfit, with well-behaved genius children who volunteer each day for a different cause and only watch educational TV shows and a perfect husband, all living together in a House Beautiful home eating organic food that I grew in my backyard. That would make me so uncomfortable. I'm actually starting to like not being perfect, or even trying. Sometimes I probably swing too far in the other direction (these legs desperately need a shave), but it feels good to tell myself it's okay. I'm okay. No one else cares, and why should they?

They're all too busy freaking out about how they compare to their own seemingly perfect friends and neighbors.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.