“Perfect” versus “imperfect”

Before I became a mother, I vowed to myself that I would be the Perfect Mother. I would be better than my mother. I wouldn’t let my kids believe that I didn’t love them, didn’t want them, or let others hurt them. I would never let them think that nothing they did was never good enough, or make them feel like they were stupid. I was driven to overcome all of what my mother did to me. I did not want my children to grow up with the same hole in my soul that I have.

In this royal quest of being the Perfect Mother, I have realized that as much as I work hard at being the Perfect Mother, I still fall short massively. I still lose my temper. I am not very patient (although I am getting better). My house is not clean all the time. I do not look like I stepped out of a magazine with freshly pressed trousers and a string of pearls around my neck while I happily do chores around the house. I do not have a immaculate car while the kids are being toted to whatever activity they want to do.

My life is chaotic at best. I have twins. I’m a graduate student. I’m a “stay-at-home-mom” (although I rarely stay home because I’m always running around!). One of my sons is autistic, so I also take the role of case manager along with being the mom. Our life is constantly being thrown curveball after curveball.

But, I still yearn for perfection. I want that clean house. I desire that freshly-pressed look (will someone please nominate me for What Not to Wear?? LOL), the never-raise-a-voice-to-my-children manner, and the patience to weather everything that is thrown my way.

My sons know I love them. I read to them every day. I take them places. I always go above and beyond what I think I have to do in order to prove that I can do it, that I am that image of Perfection that I so desperately want to be.

Is the Perfect Mother a reality, something that can be attained? So, what is a Perfect Mother? Does she embrace her imperfections and still call it “perfect”? In my quest for Perfection, everything is Imperfect. At what point do I just let go and accept myself as the Best Mom I can Be? Is this quest for Perfection going to consume me too much to the point where I can’t enjoy my children and enjoy being a mom?

That is my fear. I don’t want to not enjoy being in the moment, but this Quest for Perfection does steal a lot of the joy out of my life.

This post was written for submission for MamaBlogga’s September Group Writing Project.

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27 responses

  1. Pingback: September GWP Day Four | MamaBlogga

  2. Sometimes I want to be better than my mother, too. But the more I get into this motherhood thing, the more I realize that she did a pretty darn good job of it. Have fun with your bubbas! You are all perfect for each other.

  3. What do a clean house and one’s appearance have to do with being a perfect mother?

    Being a perfect fashion plate and a perfect housekeeper are completely different occupations.

    You sound like you’re on track with being the perfect mother to me.

  4. I really relate to your wanting perfection but finding it always out of reach. I feel like I spend each day tallying up my failures and then wondering if I even got a passing grade. I try to be “good enough” but then what is good enough? I just try to remind myself that a house full of love will make up for just about any other mistakes I make.

  5. I’ve started to feel a little like I’m falling short on the whole “housewife” thing, so I started doing the sticker thing! LOL! I’ve got it pretty easy yet at this point, Amelia’s only 7 months, but time is slipping away so fast that if I don’t try to apply some pressure to myself to “get better”, she will be getting married and off to live on her own before I know it and haven’t shown her a thing. πŸ˜€

    PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION! (I should tattoo this to my forehead or something.)

    God Bless!

  6. Jordan- I truly believe that, too, in going to Christ to be perfected in Him. It’s just hard to not want immediate results! LOL

    Nora- Thanks! I hope that we are all perfect for each other. πŸ™‚

    Kate- I have a SIL that dresses to the nines every day, her house is spotless, her three sons are in umpteen different activities, and I feel totally inferior to her. I wonder why do I feel so pale in comparison to her. I hope I’m on track, because most days I do wonder.

    Sunny- Great point on the “house being full of love”. That’s what I try to do every day.

    PandaBean- How true on “progress not perfection”. I need to remember that!

    Thanks everyone for stopping by!

    ~Michelle

  7. It is wonderful of you to rise above your mothers treatment of you and not fall into those habits with your children. I wish all children could have parents so devoted to their happiness as you seem to be to yours.

  8. Summer- Thanks for visiting! I am the Momma Bear with my boys. I am fiercely protective of them. On the first day of school, my one son was upset because he thought a boy was being a bully to him. I talked to the teacher, who talked to the playground aide, and by the end of the day it was all resolved (it was a misunderstanding on the kids’ part. My son is high-functioning autistic and sometimes has a hard time reading people).

    I agree- I wish more parents were devoted to their children.

    ~Michelle

  9. Aw, the whole quest for perfection thing. I’m not sure it’s perfection I’m after … as much as feeling good about what I’ve just done. So much of motherhood, though, is about feeling bad about something. I get tired of it. I’m exhausted. I think, in the end, we just all come up short in our own standards, our children still adore us regardless of everything we’ve done (for now, anyway) and we NEED to find a way to be happy as ourselves, no matter how imperfect we are.

    I’m having a rough day — rough week, rough month, etc. so your post hit home for me. Thanks for visiting my blog. Glad to meet you!

  10. Shawn, I hear you totally about needing to find a way to being happy about ourselves. I think it’s harder when you’re a parent of twins, wouldn’t you agree?

    I added you to my google blog reader list. It’s always nice to meet another mom of twins. πŸ™‚ Thanks for visiting and I hope to see you again soon!

    ~Michelle

  11. We are all our own worst critics, and you are no exception to that rule. You already are a perfect mom, so stop kicking yourself. I have always, and still do, admire all you do for your boys.

    SO that SIL looks “perfect” in your eyes. Remember that when you believe you see perfection in others, you are only seeing what THEY WANT YOU TO BELIEVE. What they want you to see may not be reality behind the scenes.

    Most mom’s don’t go to the lengths you have to advocate for their children, and frequently give up, feeling beaten up by the system. You’ve fought through that, persevered, and continue to come out swinging when your family needs you to. You’ve already overcome your past trials and tribulations. You go girl!

  12. Funny, when I had children is when I started to UN-do my quest for perfection. I guess, to be fair, I should say my unhealthy quest for perfection in all things in order to curry favor in someone else’s eyes. My kids have taught me more about being in the moment than any other experience in my previous 30 years. But, also funny, how all that was somehow related to my experiences growing up and how I too desired to be different than my parents. Like others have said, only God is perfect; and only He is capable of unfailing love. We all have a hole in our soul. But for whatever reason, God has ordained that your hole is just the right size and shape for mothering the bear twins. I think feeling imperfect is part of the process of crying out to Him to fill in the gaps. Just enjoy your boys, and let Him worry about the fixing part. I’m afraid I have no wisdom regarding the house and the clothes and the pearls though!

  13. That is my fear. I don’t want to not enjoy being in the moment, but this Quest for Perfection does steal a lot of the joy out of my life.

    So true, so true. A really great piece, well done.

  14. I love the play on “perfect” and “imperfect” from Spanish. Clever and metaphorically appropriate. I love the lyrical sound of much of the language–it suggests love and patience juxtaposed with society’s push to be unflawed.

    I am a bit jerked by the “I” tone and the switch to sudden “our” in paragraph four–makes me wonder where the male partner plays into these “curveballs.”

    I am not sure if the “P” in perfection is purposeful, but it makes sense due emphasis and title (sorry about the P-poor alliteration).

  15. Dear beartwinsmom –

    I think it should be the output of the heart that standards of perfection are gaged by. I would say in reading your post, that you are right up there near the top! You read to your sons, you take them places – you LOVE them – perfection in a nutshell! : )

    All the other stuff – just fluff. Nice when it happens once in a while, but not a mothering necessity.

    All in all – if I get to the end of the day and everyone is breathing, fed, and in clean diapers and underwear, then the day has been a smashing success!

    …Oh, and SIL… Is she keeping a pulled-together look and home while dealing with twins and autism? …Didn’t think so : )

    Kudos to you my dear, you are more perfection than you give yourself credit for!

  16. The perfect mom…good question! While I don’t think there’s a “perfect” mom at all out there world, I do believe we are perfect when we need to be in our own world.

    BTW-You sound like a perfect mom to me! πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  17. There’s a quote that I really like – the perfect is the enemy of the good. Sometimes, in our quest for perfection, we lose sight of the forest for the trees. Children won’t remember whether your clothes were perfectly pressed or the kitchen sink was scrubbed; they will remember all the times you got down on the floor to play with them.

  18. Okay, when I first saw your title, what immediately jumped out at me was the concept of LABELS. Don’t become a “label girl”! There is no normal… no right… no perfect. All there is, is LOVE… love and only love for our children will make the definition for them of how we are as a mother. It may not be appreciated at the time, but far in the future, while they are talking to their therapist, it will dawn on them that hey – Mom was pretty darn cool!!

  19. Pingback: September Group Writing Project Finale | MamaBlogga

  20. Pingback: Coming to a Nursery Near You | September Writing Project

  21. Get rid of that word!

    And as for perfection in Christ – that is something that happens in the next life, not in this one! While we are here we are in a constant state of being perfected (it’s a process!)

    Perfect. No such thing in the realm of humanity.

    Another poster said something about LOVE being what it’s all about (rather than ‘labels’) – I totally agree.

    One of my favorite phrases these days…

    “the heartbeat of God is love”

    If we can think and live like that – we will go far in being who God wants us to be.

  22. Wow… I’m so blown away by everyone’s kind and thoughful comments! I wrote from my heart. I was afraid I was going to come off too negative, but I wanted to document about this struggle that I constantly go through.

    MB- You know you are my online “sister”, and I love you a ton. You have great ideas and I have to remember about the perfection not being a possibility in the realm of humanity.

    MO- You are so right, too. It all boils down to love. I guess since I always felt like my mom didn’t love me, I’m overcompensating for what I didn’t have and I don’t want my boys to feel like I don’t love them. Guess I have to cut myself a break?

    Believer in Balance- Your screen name says it all- there has to be balance, and I am so desperately seeking that. You’re right- I do need to ease up on the pressure. I don’t want my boys to think that they have to be “perfect” at everything, too. It’s bad enough I have to deal with this mental demon.

    Robin- EXCELLENT quote- “perfect is the enemy of good”. And, I agree that it’s the times when you got down on the floor to play that the kids will remember more. Now if only I could find the floor…. (wink).

    Tiffany- What a sweet comment! That just warmed my heart. Thank you so much!

    Lynnae- You’re right- our kids need to see us make mistakes so that they know how to handle their own. I have to remember that. Good point and thanks for reminding me of that! πŸ™‚

    Ursula- Thank you very much for the kind comments. πŸ™‚ I hope I am the mom my boys need for them. I pray every day for that.

    childlife- “All in all – if I get to the end of the day and everyone is breathing, fed, and in clean diapers and underwear, then the day has been a smashing success!” How true is that!!! LOL I remember my friend MO and I living by that credo when our twins were smaller. I guess I need to stop sweating the fluff like you said. πŸ™‚

    No, SIL doesn’t have twins and a kid with autism. She’s just incredibly OCD (at least that’s my take on it).

    Stephanie- LOL on the “dark side”.. I think I’m there sometimes (wink). Thanks for visiting and for your comments! πŸ™‚

    Head MOn- I love it that you look at my work like a fellow English teacher. πŸ™‚ It reminds me that yes, I still have a brain, and that I can use it. I’m glad you stopped by to read my essay. Miss you TONS dear.

    Jo- Thank you very much for your sweet comments. πŸ™‚ I’m glad you enjoyed my post.

    bloginmyeye- Good points on letting God fix the hole in my soul. I’m incredibly blessed to have twins, even though most days are a struggle. I love my boys more than any words can adequately express, and I have to remember that that love is more important than any “perfection”.

    Cindi- Thanks so much for stopping by! I’m so blessed to have you for a friend, and your comments mean the world to me! I guess I judge myself too harshly, don’t I? You see how much I run around town… I need to just let go, right?

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