Last week, a mom said to me “there is so much pressure to be ‘the perfect mom creating the perfect kids’.” This weekend another mom said “there is so much pressure to do it right—we don’t get another chance.” And today, I heard a mom say “I know better, so I don’t ever want to let my kids down.”
Tell me you don’t feel your shoulders raise and the pressure mount in you when you read that?
I know those moms are not alone. Deep down all of us feel our own version of needing to be a perfect parent raising perfect kids. That’s why so many of us “hide” behind a facade of having it all together. It’s like there’s an unspoken agreement we make when we become parents – we’ll all pretend to be doing it perfectly, we’ll compare ourselves to everyone else’s facades, we won’t be able to keep up that level of “perfection” and we’ll always feel like a failure.
Yuck. Why do we do that to ourselves?
Read more Expanded Views on Parenting.
In the spirit of Mother’s Day, I’m honoring the art of self-love and cutting yourself some slack. Or if you prefer the knot metaphor—loosening the knot.
We’re WAY too tough on ourselves. For the past 5 years, I’ve worked with moms to help them become better moms by letting go a bit. They tell me that they hear my voice reminding them to be more gentle towards themselves and towards their kids. They’ve learned to be kinder to themselves and find more joy in life and more peace inside of themselves. Their relationships with their kids are closer and more solid than ever.
It became clear that being the perfect mom is NOT the path to connection. Being a real mom is.
On this day, the day to honor you and your hard core commitment to being the best mom, partner, friend, daughter, sister, and woman you can be, I want to honor your INNER you. The part of you that is lovable just by being born, just by existing and being part of creation.
And we do that by examining what it might look like to let go of striving to be the perfect mom raising the perfect kids (inspired by my colleague Manal Treakle).
Here are 16 upsides to being imperfect:
Your kids learn resilience. Life will not always go their way and people will not always do things “right”.
You get to learn that your kids still love you when you make mistakes or are otherwise imperfect.
Your kids will feel less pressure. They learn from who you are, and if you’re always striving to be perfect, you’ll imprint that upon them and they will spend their lives feeling like they’re never enough and need to keep striving to be enough (aka perfect).
You get the chance to repair trust when you make mistakes. There is SO much connection in the act of repairing trust with another human being.
Your kids get to see the TRUTH about people: that they are imperfect, they sometimes disappoint you, but they try hard to do their best.
Your kids feel free to fail, make mistakes, or otherwise be human (imperfect) and feel safe and confident that you will love them (because we show that we love ourselves, imperfections and all.). According to Donald Miller, author of Scary Close, healthy and high-functioning people often have parents who do not hide their flaws, especially from their own children. Read more here.
You get to have more authentic relationships with your friends because they get to peek around your facade of having it together to the REAL YOU where you are just trying to figure it out and do the best you can.
Your kids will get to watch you go with the flow, be flexible, and love “what is” rather than always wishing things were different. They’ll learn how to do this too!
You’ll be able to be more present in life, rather than always distracted by thoughts about what you could’ve done better and plans for how you can make sure it turns out perfect.
You’ll teach your kids how to be less worried about how they are perceived and judged, and how to be more oriented around connecting and being present with the people and experiences they’re engaged with in the moment.
You get to release some of the pressure of who you “should be” and get to see who you really are! You might be surprised to see who you’ve become over the years.
If you’re imperfect, you probably can’t get everything done well and on time…so you might have to ask for help. Imagine what it might feel like to get the support you complain you never get. And your kids might learn how to be more helpful and responsible too!
Your partner might feel more capable and inspired to be more helpful when he/she’s not being compared to the “high bar” of perfection.
You might laugh a lot more. When we let go of the striving to do it right, we get to laugh more at ourselves and see the humor in when it’s done differently than we had imagined.
“Doing it right” is loaded and has a lot of expectations. You probably keep your family really busy doing all of the things you “should be” doing. Imagine what it might look like to do less and have more time to enjoy your life.
You’ll have more energy. Trying to be perfect is EXHAUSTING! (not to mention unsustainable).
This Mother’s Day, see where you can let go just a smidge. Just today, can you allow someone to do something for you? Can you practice being more real and less striving for perfect?
Together, let’s be Flawsome! Let’s embrace our Flaws+Awesomeness! And a Big Happy Mother’s Day wish to you!
Post in the comments if you have other ideas for how being imperfect is good for us, our kids, and our families.
Science agrees! Read this article to learn more: Science Proves the Myth of the “Perfect Parent” Makes it Harder to be a Good Parent.