I had just lost my temper with my 20 month old during one our wrestling matches (aka diaper changes) when the following words entered my mind:
“He doesn’t need a perfect mom, he just needs a present mom.”
And I sat back for a moment, my toddler still trying to wrangle free from my arms, screaming and kicking as if I was torturing him, while that mom guilt flooded over me. You ever feel really small? I’m pretty sure I felt like I was the size of an ant, and it was a much needed rebuke by my subconscious.
A former boss used to always warn me that,”perfection is the enemy of success.”
And for the longest time, I didn’t understand what he meant. It actually bothered me because what could be better than perfection? It didn’t logically make sense to me, because perfection was the best. It IS the best.
I’ve spent my whole life chasing perfection. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than looking back on a completed task and feeling like I got it just right. You know what I mean? When you truly love something, after spending hours working on it? When you feel like it’s… well, perfect.
It wasn’t until after I became a mother myself, that I was fully able to grasp this concept by way of eating the biggest piece of humble pie in the history of man. I think it was around the time I felt like I was completely and utterly failing as a mom, that I realized my idea of perfection was getting in the way of any sort of progress I was desperately trying to make.
Long gone were the days I dreamt of making his baby food from scratch, of cleaning during his nap-times. LOL at the idea of waking before him so I could get ready for the day. My expectations of motherhood broke the glass ceiling of my reality. And it allllll came crashing down.
I’ve had to learn that if it costs you quality time with your children, then it’s not even close to being perfect. Because social media has us chasing the wrong kinds of ideals. Instagram and Pinterest make us feel like we aren’t doing enough if we aren’t giving our kids special and unique experiences all the time in a perfectly clean house, with an organic meal.
I would spend so much of my time trying to craft those special experiences, to live up to ideals I had created, for a child that didn’t care about them. What he cared about was me. What he needed was me.
And not me on my phone while he plays beside me, or me watching tv with him sitting next to me. I mean, actual one-on-one, quality time together where I’m giving him my all. Getting on the floor and playing with him, running around outside together, playing hide and seek, simply putting down my phone and giving him my undivided attention; that’s what he needs.
And no, playing in the dirt isn’t a picture-perfect moment curated for Instagram. But that’s kind of the point. And perfect in this case is messy hands, more water outside the tub than inside it, food on our shirts and reading the same book 4x in a row.
He just needs a mom that’s present in his happiness. A mom that’s willing to chase his happiness with him and be there to root for him- for the small moments, the big moments, and everything in between.
Tonight, I’m going to bed with dirty dishes in my sink and a floor that desperately needs to be mopped. We ate Chipotle for dinner and corndogs for lunch. I turned the tv on and let my kid binge watch while I got some shut eye on the couch.
But all of that is okay, because we also read books together, and we broke through a tantrum by rocking and talking sweetly. We ran through the sprinkler together and blew bubbles. And when he wakes up tomorrow, he won’t remember how messy the house was or that he didn’t eat avocado toast for breakfast.
But he will remember laughing while we danced to Baby Shark, barefoot in the kitchen. Because you become the perfect mom by being a present mom.