Thursday, August 11, 2016

Thoughts for Thursday: Throwing Away "Perfect"

If there's one thing parenting has taught me, it's that rarely, if ever, will things be "perfect." 

Before I had kids, I dreamed of cuddling up to my sweet new baby, who smelled absolutely heavenly: a mix of Johnson & Johnson baby lotion, Dreft and that sweet newborn smell just radiating off of them. I dreamed of nursing my baby until his/her first birthday, and that weaning them off would be a breeze. I dreamed of taking my toddler to museums, parks and play dates in cute little outfits I personally picked out myself, and there wouldn't be any crying or tantrum throwing, and we would laugh and smile and it would be so fun...because this was my dream and that's allowed to be perfect, right? 

But oh, man. Parenting has slapped me in the face, and hard, and has taught me to let go of those "perfect" standards. That sweet cuddle session? Interrupted by projectile vomit (in my freshly-washed and dried hair and down my bra, thankyouverymuch). That nursing? Yeah, well we've discussed how that just didn't work out. Taking my toddler out and about? Yesterday he wore a green T-shirt twice-too-big that bore the logo from my high school -- along with sandals typically reserved for church and a blue trucker hat -- because that's what he wanted to wear and I just wasn't fighting that battle. Oh, and the whole "no-tantrum-throwing" thing? Yeah, he threw a fit when I dared to ask him not to sneeze on someone's car. Because I'm mean like that.

So that image of perfect? Right out the window. 

That's hard for me, because I'm such a Type A, borderline OCD person. I live by the motto, "A place for everything; everything in its place." I enjoy a clean, tidy house; an empty laundry hamper; made beds; and all of the boxes of my daily to-do list checked off before my husband comes home in the evening. It gives me immense pleasure and I feel like I sleep better at night knowing it has all been completed.

And some days are just like that: I can sit down at the end of the day, enjoy a TV show and sip on a glass of wine feeling refreshed and knowing that I, somehow, in the midst of all the chaos, donned my Wonder Woman cape that day and could hang it on the back of my door and sleep soundly that night. And other days? Well, my Wonder Woman cape was still in the washing machine...that had to be started again because the clothes were smelling a little like mildew after not being transferred to the dryer soon enough. Those days, the ones where I feel like I'm yelling at my toddler too much; not spending enough one-on-one time with him or the baby; can't remember the last time I ate a thing ("Did I eat lunch? Well, does the Lära Bar I ate at 8:30 a.m. count? It's 3 p.m. Whatever, we're eating dinner soon. Wait, what's for dinner? Crap.") and don't want to sip a glass, but instead glug a bottle of wine -- sometimes those are the ones I'm going to miss the most when my kids are grown and gone. The busyness, the hustle and bustle, the noise...I'll miss that all.

I'm right in the thick of it right now: most days I'm still in my workout gear, don't shower until after the kids are in bed, and just feel like I'm on the hamster wheel of this thing called "life" and "parenting" and "motherhood." I constantly battle inwardly about big and little things: "Should I work out or clean my house when the kids are down for a nap?" "Is the baby getting enough to eat?" "Why is my toddler waking up at the crack of dawn? Is he sleeping enough?" "When was the last time I kissed my husband goodbye before he left for work?" "I really need to make an eye doctor appointment." "And a haircut appointment." "Does my toddler need a hair cut?" "Wait, he just got a hair cut." "Did I deposit that check?" SO MANY THINGS. 

But at night, after they've gone to sleep, and I'm wiping the tiny hand prints off of the back door glass; and putting away countless cars and trucks and construction vehicles; and folding a load of tiny laundry that will never be this tiny again...I realize that I'm going to miss it. Because before I know it, my 2.5-year-old will be in Kindergarten and in someone else's care for eight hours a day. My nearly-three-month-old will be chasing his brother across the house and I'll be breaking up fights daily. I'll be trying to hide my tears as they walk across the stage at graduation. I'll be moving them into college dorm rooms. I'll be escorted to my front-row seat at their weddings. I'll be holding their children. And I'll be coming home to a quiet house.

It's going to go by in the blink of an eye. So that standard of perfect I'm holding myself to -- and the world is holding me to -- I've got to help throw it out the window as much as it practically just flies out the window all by itself. It's like that old poem: "Quiet down cobwebs; dust, go to sleep. I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep." 

I wrote this post because I was reminded how completely imperfect motherhood is yesterday as I was baking a cake for my aunt's birthday (which is today). I had this (again, "perfect") image in my head of a chocolate layer cake with chocolate icing, sprinkles and a cute little "4-2" candle on the top of it. So as I started to bake the cake, a certain little toddler wandered into the kitchen: 

"Mommy, I want to do it. I want to help!" Admittedly, I cringed inwardly and thought, "Should I let him help? But I want the cake to look cute! I guess I can just give him a bowl and a whisk and let him pretend he's helping me. But wait, he really wants to help. What the heck, I'll let him." 

So I did. And he loved it.

Yes, there were spatulas double-dipped after tasting (on his part); chocolate and sprinkles all over my kitchen; an almost-burned cake because I overfilled the cake pans because I was in a hurry before the baby woke up from his morning nap; and I'm currently still soaking said green shirt in OxyClean and really need to hit the "Self-Clean" button on my oven...but he enjoyed it and that's what his memories will be made of. 

He won't remember the "perfect" birthday cake with the "perfect" icing and the "perfect" sprinkles. He will remember his Mommy making a birthday cake with him and letting him lick the bowl, the spoon and everything in between. He will remember practicing singing "Happy Birthday," and pouring yet another layer of multi-colored sprinkles on the cake. While it may look like the saddest excuse of a cake ever to me, it looks like something off of "Cake Boss" to him. 

So join me, will you, in throwing the word "perfect" out the window? I'll lift the window up if you'll throw. ;) 


Linking up with Annie and Natalie  


  1. I LOVE THIS!!!! I couldn't agree with this more.. honestly!! I struggle daily with my type A, borderline OCD standard with cleaning, organizing, laundry and then balancing work and family. I needed this today! THANK YOU! Love your blog! :)

  2. Aw, I absolutely adore this post! This is so true and such a great reminder for us all. I'm very similar in having a type A personality, but I've had to learn to let go of that for my kids sake, and making sure that they have fun and feel involved. Yes the floors may not really get clean when they help "vaccum" but they love helping, and I can't tell them no! :)

  3. I think we all need this reminder. And I get the feeling it happens a lot more when you become a parent. So many people/things out there telling you what you SHOULD and SHOULDN'T be doing. But what really matters is those two little loves, and you making the most of the time you have with them. Houses get messy, windows get smudged, and cakes get double dipped and messy sprinkles sometimes...but those all mean that memories are being made and I think that's the best thing of all.

  4. I LOVE this! One of the things I treasure most about my childhood is the way my mother never let a mess get in the way of fun. She truly focused on making memories, and letting us be kids. Now that I am older and see how pristine her home is, I know it must have killed her inside to let perfect go out the window. But it made for the best childhood.

  5. YES YES YES!! It's so hard to remember that life doesn't have to be perfect when you're type A like us but in the moments we let go, it's amazing that the world still turns if our to-do list isn't complete (as hard as that is for me to admit).

  6. Omg, that poem takes me back, and I realize now that I never actually understood its meaning. Literally just made me tear up at work.

  7. Love THIS! I'm very type A as well and it's hard so I can totally relate to everything you just said.

  8. We baked banana bread yesterday and as messy and chaotic as it was, the memories are ones I will treasure forever. Love all of this!

  9. Aw I love this post!! It's times like this that you and the boys will always cherish! I'm super type A and don't have the vision of perfect kids, but I think my visions are still wayy off the mark lol One thing I really like about the blog world, is reading things like this and (hopefully) managing my expectations more to enjoy times like this in the future. Granted, it could all go out the window when kids actually come lol!!

  10. So glad you are giving yourself so much grace, mama! I'm finding that is impossible to balance it "all" and the only reason we think we know what "it all" is is because we are listening to the standards that the world is placing on us! You are doing great, girl!!


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