Before kids, I left the house showered with my hair and makeup complete, house picked up in case a neighbor stopped by, and dinner was prepped and ready to be cooked. Now, as a mother of a busy 1-year-old, my life doesn’t quite look the same. Yet, I still have the need and desire to make things perfect. I want to look presentable when I leave the house. I want my house picked up and freshly cleaned. I want all the laundry done, folded, and put away in the same day. I also want dinner in the slow cooker and ready so that I am not throwing chicken nuggets in the oven the last minute. I want to leave the house with my son in an adorable outfit, without breakfast stains on his shirt and without blueberry remnants in his hair.
I strive for perfection, but is that necessary?
Should I really spend valuable time away from my son to sweep and mop the floors? Should I worry that he dumped an entire bowl of macaroni and cheese on the floor when the babysitter is on her way over? And on top of that, how much time should I be spending thinking about how I look as if I haven’t showered in a week?
And what is with mommy-shaming? That doesn’t help with my desire to live this “perfect life.” The minute another mom asks “Oh, he wears hand-me-downs?” immediately knocks you out of the feeling of perfection. The need to tell lies about how well of a sleeper your infant is, or how well he/she is doing with solid foods. Does it make you feel better? Does it help you reach the perfection status?
Don’t even get me started on the “perfect” lives people live on social media. You got your 2-day old infant and 3-year-old toddler out of the house in perfect attire to head out for coffee by 8 AM? I call your bluff. I can only imagine it took well over an hour to achieve that. And for what? A picture on Facebook to prove you’ve got this mom thing down? I am pretty sure I was still in my mesh panties, bloated beyond the ability to recognize, and had poop in my hair. But no one wants me to post that on social media. That’s not perfection.
Before kids, I tried all of these fancy Pinterest meals out that would have been completely Instagram worthy. Now, I feel bad when I didn’t get dinner in the oven 30 minutes earlier and now my kid is screaming his head off because dinner isn’t made. So, I throw in some leftovers or make a quick grilled cheese sandwich instead of having my kid eat the fresh meal in the oven. There goes the perfect meal.
Why do I feel the need have my house perfect before I go to bed at night or when we leave for a 2-night getaway? Dishwasher started, counters cleared, toys put away, and pillows in their correct spot on the couch. We get up the next day and destroy it all again. I think there is something to starting the day, not feeling already defeated. But should I be spending all my family time continually cleaning and perfecting every piece of decor I own? There is a time for these things, and it doesn’t have to be every night.
I love to shop, especially before having kids. There was more of a freedom in the budget for new clothes, and I had much more time to myself to go out and buy a few new outfits. Now, I am wearing clothes that are years old, hoping my coworkers aren’t catching onto it. I feel less out of style than I ever have in my life. Why do I feel the need to have the perfect attire? Who am I trying to impress? Let’s get real, my clothes will have boogers and cracker crumbs on them by the end of the day anyway.
Aside from being a mom, many women strive to live the perfect life at work. I am dedicated and want to perform the best I can at my job. I want to make a difference. I want to make deadlines. I want everything on my to-do list checked off my list at the end of the day so that I can start a fresh one the next morning. But it’s fine. Those papers that need to be copied can wait one more day. Those emails can wait a few more hours or days.
Now I challenge you:
- Leave the house unshowered with a messy “updo”
- Paint your nails instead of scrubbing the toilet
- Sit outside on the deck with your loved one(s) instead of picking up toys
- Serve a [fancy] frozen pizza when guests come over instead of cooking over the stove all day
- Leave the dirty dishes in the sink overnight
- Grab your kids after they painted the kitchen table and their clothes with dinner and take them to eat ice cream in a park
Okay, okay. That’s enough challenges. We can’t turn into barbarians. So go live your own life. Stop comparing yourself to others. Remember, there is no such thing as perfect, so stop striving for it. If there was such a thing, I’m pretty sure those little eyes looking up at you every day…they think you’re pretty perfect.