Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Perfect Mom

What does it mean to be the perfect mom? It’s an interesting question, one with a hundred different answers, but I am not sure that all of them are right. In fact, I am not sure any of them are right. Because, the truth is there is no such thing as being a perfect mom. But there sure is a lot of hype telling you that being the perfect mom is attainable. There are so many things you should do to be a perfect mom. You have to breastfeed for a least a year. You have to be a stay at home mom. You have get your babies on a perfect sleep schedule as soon as possible. You have to...

Before I became a mom I thought I would be the perfect mom. I have always wanted to be a mom after all, being a perfectionist and high achiever I had no doubt I would excel in this area of my life as well. Sure, it would be hard, but I like hard, I like the challenge. Yeah, that thought was quickly put to rest. In fact, I began to feel like a failure as a mom while I was still pregnant.

You see, I had a terrible pregnancy. I was sick 24/7 for nine months. Not to mention many other complications that I won't go into now, but needless to say I was miserable. Because of this, I wasn't able to do all the things the perfect mommy should. I couldn't eat healthy, honestly I was just happy if I could keep anything down. Which for me was primarily frozen coke and carbs (yup, super healthy right?). I didn't exercise well, there was no prenatal yoga for me, in fact I spent most of my time not at work lying on the couch feeling miserable. I was already failing and I hadn't even started yet! How on earth was I going to make it as a mom?

The imperfection didn't stop when the monkey was born. Right away I had trouble nursing her and was about to give up after a week (luckily we both got the hang of it). Plus, she wasn't a great napper right from the start. She was a great night time sleeper, but not so great at the naps. In fact, I couldn't get her on a solid nap schedule until she was 5 months old and even then I forced it because I needed some consistency. My friend had gotten her daughter on a perfect nap schedule quickly, why couldn't I?

But, here is what I started to think about through my pregnancy and early days of motherhood. What if there is no such thing as a perfect mom? I mean perfectionism hasn't always worked great for me in everyday life why would it be a great thing for me as a mom? And what if what is right for someone else isn't right for me? And what if your baby has a different personality and needs than my baby does? And maybe it is OK if every piece of "expert advice" doesn't work for me, I mean they can't even agree with each other half the time.

So what does that mean? Maybe that means that I need to stop striving for the unattainable goal. Maybe it means I need to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and what everyone else is thinking and focus on what works best for me and my family. Maybe it means I take the advice of all of those well meaning people and ignore it. Maybe it means I focus on being the best mom I can be every day and find contentment in that.

I am not great at this, I still struggle with feeling like a failure. I still hate not having all the right answers or feeling like I have no idea what I am doing. But I am trying to let go of the need to be perfect and focus on loving my daughter well and doing the best I can for her. This is my journey into motherhood and my thoughts. Take them or leave them, and please feel free to share your own.

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