I’ll admit it: I am. For those in the same category, you no doubt understand when I say that motherhood forced me to change, or at least to lighten up. Allow me to explain.
I consider myself somewhat of a health nut. I try hard to always cook healthy meals. We never deep fry anything; we eat a plethora of different vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. I’m anti-processed foods, so you won’t find a lot of it in my house. I was so proud when my son started eating solid foods. He liked everything. And I mean everything. Veggies? Check. Seafood? Check. Onions, garlic, pasta, meat, fruit? Check. He was the dream child, and oh how I bragged about his healthy eating habits.
And then the “stages” set in. You know which stages I’m talking about – the “I’m only eating bread all day, every day for the next 3 weeks” stage. The “I used to like chicken, but I’ve changed my mind. I will now only eat it if you puree it” stage. This would be fine, if we were all perfect Suzy Homemakers and had nothing better to fill the 24 hours of our day than to make gourmet baby food that our child loved. Now I don’t know about you, but that’s not me. I don’t have magical “empty” hours in my day to cook. Working full-time, being a wife and mother, managing a household, and writing a food blog on the side eats up the majority of my time.
When the “stages” first started, I would take an extra hour to make him a separate meal from the one I was cooking for my husband and me. I wanted wholesome, healthy food for my son, none of that “processed crap”. I wanted so badly to be that perfect mother, and my intentions were good. But continuously striving for a level of perfection that I had achieved pre-baby was unrealistic. Inevitably, I burned myself out.
My mom gently reminded me, that no kid has starved from eating bread for a week. And she was right. Eating bread for a week straight while going through one of his phases didn’t kill him. Kraft Dinner once in a while won’t kill him. If he refuses to eat anything but Craisins for 80% of his supper – he’ll live.
Any moms out there would be the first to say how impossible it is to strive for perfection as a mother. There are just too many unknowns, and circumstances pop up out of the blue that force you to put aside what you are doing and address them immediately. In the middle of perfecting your hollandaise sauce when your baby spits up all over the floor? Sorry hun, that hollandaise sauce is toast.
In a perfect world, you would get 8 hours of sleep every night. Your child would be adorable, with the perfect temperament all the time. They would never spit up or have massive poop blowouts (especially not in public). They would fit all the clothes bought for them at the perfect time. They would nap when you wanted them to nap, according to your schedule, and wouldn’t wake up from that nap until you had finished everything on your to do list. Teething would be a breeze, they would never get sick, and colic wouldn’t exist. When they started eating solid foods, they would love everything you gave them.
Two words: Dream on.
I learned the hard way – motherhood is all about rolling with the punches, and being comfortable saying, “It’s good enough”.
I envy all the women and mothers out there to whom this comes naturally. For someone like me, a natural-born perfectionist, it’s a struggle every single day. Those of us who are perfectionists have to remind ourselves constantly that the world will not stop turning if the floors are not spotless, or if the dishes sit in the sink overnight. We have to remind ourselves that if our child eats a bowl of Kraft Dinner, we are not bad mothers. It’s a never-ending inner battle.
Where does this need for perfection come from? The age we live in gives us easy access to endless amounts of information, which is both a blessing and a curse. Everywhere you look, you can find articles, blog posts, and how-to guides for raising a child. You can talk to other mothers and share your concerns, accomplishments, and dreams with them.
But there is also a dark side. For every helpful article out there, there are two more like it that will tell you how horrible of a mother you are for not breast-feeding; how your child will develop asthma if you give them Tylenol; and that if you don’t co-sleep with your children, they will be developmentally delayed.
As new mothers, we get caught up in all the information out there, and when we hear/see/read things like the afore-mentioned, we start to question our abilities as parents, and a feeling of inadequacy quickly sets in.
But you know what? We are NOT inadequate. We provide a roof over our children’s heads, food to fill their bellies, and we shower them with love. None of us are perfect, and none of us ever will be. We are all bound to make mistakes (even the ones who co-sleep, never give Tylenol and breastfeed). It’s inevitable. But the beauty of making mistakes is that we learn from them, and each time we’re a little smarter because of it.
Perfection is not achievable as a mother. But happiness sure is. And happiness is where I’ve set my goal.
What about you? Will you make happiness your new goal, and make, “It’s good enough” your new mantra?