The Poisonous Myth of Perfection

Posted on Posted in Parenting

 

Sometimes I become friends in real life with Sage Mamas who have followed my work for years (mega perk to coaching over therapy). In preparation for the first playdate, they sometimes elude to a bit of nervousness and I often say something like, “You’ll get to meet my perfectly imperfect children,” to set them at ease. I mean that in the most loving, positive, and accepting way. My children don’t have a performance standard – pressure or judgment – when we are out in the world, even around my beloved clients. I accept their whole selves, even the messy parts, even the parts that aren’t always smiley.

The concept of a spectrum of normal and healthy is something that always dwells in my consciousness. I’ll share with you that none of my children are the picture of a “good” child I had in my mind before actually becoming a parent. This gift has expanded my mind and heart exponentially, especially in the areas of open-mindedness and acceptance.

Sometimes life is hard and sometimes we experience seasons that necessarily divert our internal resources from the behaviors we have arbitrarily defined as successful (shiny) (think a broken bone or a new baby). That is okay. It does not mean we are less than when our children look “inconvenient.”

Now here is where I need you to stay with me and be brave: The same is true for you.

I’ll leave it to you to define what a “good” mother is for yourself but I can tell you that it is never perfection (and it looks different for every family). A good mother is perfectly imperfect. Just like with our children, we pile on the pressure to be shiny and happy and judge ourselves at having fallen short when we let slip down our mask enough to show a wrinkle and a tear. Take your children down from the pedestal of perfection, step down yourself, and be in connection with each other as whole, authentic people.

If perfection is your yardstick for good motherhood, you will never achieve it. I am the expert, and I am perfectly imperfect. After a late night chat in which a very pregnant friend confessed to sharing a bowl of mac n’ cheese over Daniel Tiger at bedtime, I responded, “Girl, it’s 11pm and I am building our kitchen while all 3 of my kids Netflix nearby.” And I feel no guilt. Wanna know why? Love (Isn’t that always the answer around here?). You know what I see in a shared bowl of mac n’ cheese over Daniel Tiger? The same thing I see as my children cuddle together a few feet away, excitedly telling me all about the best parts of their movie while I build us a home. LOVE.

But let’s say perfection was attainable (it’s not), you still wouldn’t be a perfect mother because a perfect façade provides no modeling for our children in navigating the sometimes tepid and turbulent emotional seas of life. Sometimes shit happens. Sometimes people suck. Do you allow yourself to feel your raw feelings and move forward consciously and with intention toward growth and light? Allow your children to bear witness to your struggle so they may see a path to walk on their own journey.

Don’t strive for perfection. Perfection is a poisonous myth. Keep evolving for the better; keep growing and reaching for your best self, while loving yourself for exactly where you are today (and your children too). Let that be your goal. Remember that it’s your lack of peace with imperfection that is the joy thief, not imperfection itself. So join me and my children in being perfectly imperfect.

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