Perfect Mom vs. Me: She's Going Down

When it comes to being a mom, I can pretty safely say that I fall into the aspirational category. There’s the ideal image I have in my head of the Perfect Mom: well organized, thoughtful, and patient. Then, there’s me.  Going toe-to-toe, how do I measure up to Perfect Mom?  Take a look.

Perfect Mom: Plans healthy, balanced meals for the week every Sunday

Me: Serves chicken fingers & fries, chocolate chip pancakes, and then pasta and butter three nights in a row

Perfect Mom: Creates and implements a straightforward and consistent reward system

Me: Tells child she gets a toy after cleaning her room. Five minutes later tells child she gets a toy after she cleans her room, brushes her teeth, and behaves nicely at lunch

Perfect Mom: Anticipates and prepares for inevitable growth spurts and purchases a few necessary items in the next size up

Me: Scrounges through drawers every night for a month to find clothing items that can double as pajamas

Perfect Mom: Avoids all technology while spending quality time with child

Me: Checks Facebook, email, Twitter and news on phone as child claws at arm begging for a snack

Perfect Mom: Covets child’s privacy and refrains from posting potentially embarrassing updates and photos on Facebook

Me: Posts photos of child with drool coming out of the side of her mouth while sprawled, fast asleep, on the living floor

Perfect Mom: Never uses food as a reward

Me: Just about always uses food as a reward

Perfect Mom: Sets and maintains a consistent bedtime

Me: Sets and maintains a consistent bedtime, if consistent means it’s when I say so

Perfect Mom: Never lets her child eat in front of the TV

Me: Only lets my child eat in front of the TV is she’s sick, it’s raining, snowing, vacation, early mornings, late nights, when I’m sick, working, tired, etc. etc. etc.

Perfect Mom: Limits TV to 30 minutes a day

Me: See exceptions above

As I observe the vast gulf between the Perfect Mom and me, I find myself asking: who is this woman?  And why is she ruining it for the rest of us? 

I look at other moms around me and notice how similar we are: all struggling with self-imposed parental ideals and all feeling, at least a big chunk of the time, that somehow we’re falling short.  Is this modern day mommyhood, or are we just the next generation to wonder if we’re getting it right?

Then, a thought occurs to me.  Maybe it’s not about the perfect mom versus us.  Maybe it’s about existing in that messy zone between the two, in that divide between who we are and who we wish to be.  It might just be that in there, with all of our frailties, faults, and deficiencies, that we’re imparting an important message to our little ones, that no one is perfect, even the perfect mom.

At least that’s what I’ll tell myself as I plop my daughter on the couch, again, to watch some TV while I work.  But – I swear – it’s only for half an hour.   Or maybe not.  Who knows. I never said I was perfect.

~By Wendy Widom, Partner, Families in the Loop

Thanks for the repost, Chicago Parent!


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