Saturday, April 27, 2013

How to be a Perfect Wife and Mother

Obviously, this is a satirical post. The perfect wife and mother do not exist. I learned this the hard way by comparing myself to other women, wives and mothers. You see, I'm a perfectionist by nature. I have been as long as I can remember. Once I became a mother, the most natural thing was for me to be perfect at it. I read everything I could. Researched every little thing. The biggest problem with being a perfectionist mommy is there is no way to be perfect at anything, ever. Learning this was the best thing I could have done for myself and my children.
Thing I have done to STOP being a perfectionist:

1. Don't compare yourself to other mothers. I am not as skinny or as fit as so and so who has 5 kids. I feel exhausted 90% of the time but see mothers who are either on caffeine overload or just have the personality of the Energizer bunny bouncing from their PTO meetings, home room mother outings, gardening, blogging, photography, volunteer board positions, all while holding down a full time job. Instead of comparing yourself to others, do the best you can with what you have and call it a day.
2.  Don't be a helicopter parent. If you don't know what that is, you may want to look it up. I fuss over my son who insists on wiping his nose on the front of his shirt, picks holes in the knees of his pants and my daughter who seems to find every dirt pile in her path and high place to climb only to subsequently fall off. I used to be one of those parents who spent an inordinate amount of time obsessing over EVERY, LITTLE, THING. Now with two, not so much. If my daughter has a piece of candy, I don't have a breakdown thinking of how it will scar her taste buds for the rest of her life because she had one piece of candy. (Trust me I did this with my son. He had his first piece of candy at his preschool when he was four!!)

3. Don't obsess over the cleanliness of your house.  I am also not the best or most efficient house cleaner. Cat fur tumbleweeds blow in the ceiling fan breeze, my toilets are in constant need of attention and dried milk always coats my tabletop, even though I clean daily. Anyone who knew me before children could attest to my almost obsessive need for things to be clean and in its proper place. I'm not saying I don't fight that little gremlin but motherhood certainly humbles your existence. Maybe it's because I have a 2 year old. Maybe it's because I am somewhat of a lazy perfectionist these days. Or maybe it's that my children and my family are what makes me happy. Maybe my priorities of health, playtime and a semi-clean home are what I feel my children need from their mommy. The dishes will get washed, the laundry folded and the beds made. Take that moment when your child says, "Mommy, wanna play?" and instead of saying "I'm busy" say, "Absolutely!"
4. Last an certainly not least: Make your health a priority, too.  How would our children's lives be without us in it because we didn't make our health a priority? I believe I am the best mother I can be when I take time to take care of myself. Not just physically by exercising and eating healthy but also by making sure I pursue interests outside of motherhood, things that exercise my mind. The pursuits I had before taking on the persona of mother of the year (only in that alternate universe of my overinflated ego mind). Take time for yourself everyday and make sure to have a date night with your significant other at least once a month. Even if its only for a few hours, date night is essential.

All this being said a happy mommy=happy children, right? Not necessarily. Each child has their own personality. My son is the pessimist, my daughter the optimist. My daughter laughs easily and loves intensely. My son loves intensely, unknowingly and laughs cautiously. My son loves to cook, my daughter loves to eat. My son cannot be bothered from his toy cars to help, my daughter sees a task and does it. They are different sides of the same coin. How can two human beings produced by the same two people be completely different? The answer is that they came from two completely different people. Two people who love each other with everything we have to give. One who sees the good in others and one who struggles to see the good in anything. One who laughs with all her heart and the other who laughs at her laughing. One who pursues childhoods' simplicity and the other who fights it with all he has.

My children are as happy as two children can be considering the life we lead. One of my children has special needs and the daily struggles of this are sometimes so overwhelming all I can do is focus on anything else. I put too much pressure on myself, feeling as if somehow my childs special needs are my fault. My son experienced his father deploying when he was 3 and I heard him say "See ya later, tater" as we waved goodbye. I did all the things the military tells you to do. I let my son help his father pack and took pictures of it. I made him a photo album with pictures of all the fun things he and Daddy did with captions that read "Fun with Daddy at the Waterpark" and we would look through the book during the year separation to remind him that Daddy loves him. I took him to the farewell. I let him watch his father board the white bus and then I held my son as he cried when he finally realized he was not going with Daddy. All he kept saying was "I wanna go on the white bus with Daddy." My heart broke in those moments. Even though he is almost 7, he still talks about "daddy leaving" and I still have to explain that Daddy isn't going anywhere for a while. I did all the things I was told to do to help him cope. At least this is one stressor he doesn't have to deal with for now.

Paraphrasing one of my dearest friends: "I will never be the perfect mother or the worst mother. As hard as I try, my children will end up in therapy either because I wore myself out trying to be the perfect mother or because I wasn't the perfect mother, so I just do the best I can". I strive to be a better mother, to achieve the goals I set for myself, to show my children determination by making lemonade when we are handed lemons. I want to teach them that life doesn't always turn out as you planned. Happiness is a choice not a chance. Personalities are predetermined but it does not have to mold your emotions. Instead of pushing for perfection, I strive for my children to feel secure, safe, loved, cared for and most of all cherished by their mother, as the miracle they are. I strive for them to understand that home is where the people you love are and not some tangible, touchable place. For it is in the heart, where the home lies.


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