When it comes to being a mom, I can pretty safely say that I fall into the aspirational category. There’s the ideal image I have in my head of the Perfect Mom: well organized, thoughtful, and patient. Then, there’s me. Going toe-to-toe, how do I measure up to Perfect Mom? Take a look.
* Plans healthy, balanced meals for the week every Sunday
* Serves chicken fingers & fries, chocolate chip pancakes, and then pasta and butter three nights in a row
* Creates and implements a straightforward and consistent reward system
* Tells child she gets a toy after cleaning her room. Five minutes later tells child she gets a toy after she cleans her room, brushes her teeth, and behaves nicely at lunch
* Anticipates and prepares for inevitable growth spurts and purchases a few necessary items in the next size up
* Scrounges through drawers every night for a month to find clothing items that can double as pajamas
* Avoids all technology while spending quality time with child
* Checks Facebook, email, Twitter and news on phone as child claws at arm begging for a snack
* Covets child’s privacy and refrains from posting potentially embarrassing updates and photos on Facebook
* Posts photos of child with drool coming out of the side of her mouth while sprawled, fast asleep, on the living floor
* Never uses food as a reward
* Just about always uses food as a reward
* Sets and maintains a consistent bedtime
* Sets and maintains a consistent bedtime, if consistent means it’s when I say so
* Never lets her child eat in front of the TV
* Only lets my child eat in front of the TV is she’s sick, it’s raining, snowing, vacation, early mornings, late nights, when I’m sick, working, tired, etc. etc. etc.
* Limits TV to 30 minutes a day
* See exceptions above
As I observe the vast gulf between the Perfect Mom and me, I find myself asking: who is this woman? And why is she ruining it for the rest of us?
I look at other moms around me and notice how similar we are: all struggling with self-imposed parental ideals and all feeling, at least a big chunk of the time, that somehow we’re falling short. Is this modern day mommyhood, or are we just the next generation to wonder if we’re getting it right?
Then, a thought occurs to me. Maybe it’s not about the perfect mom versus us. Maybe it’s about existing in that messy zone between the two, in that divide between who we are and who we wish to be. It might just be that in there, with all of our frailties, faults, and deficiencies, we’re imparting an important message to our little ones, that no one is perfect, even the perfect mom.
At least that’s what I’ll tell myself as I plop my daughter on the couch, again, to watch some TV while I work. But – I swear – it’s only for half an hour. Or maybe not. Who knows. I never said I was perfect.