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Learning How to Accept Less Than Perfect

less than perfect

Society tells us that we have to teach our children the difference between right and wrong and how to behave. As moms and parents, this responsibility falls on us. It’s an immense pressure. You’re supposed to tell your child to walk down the hallway instead of run, to use a quiet voice when you’re out at the store, to not throw a tantrum while you’re grocery shopping, and the list goes on.

Sometimes it can feel like you spend all day telling your child to do this and not that. Or at least it feels that way to me. We expect our children to absorb everything we tell them and to be perfect at doing so. But the fact is that children are continually learning and they are going to make mistakes because they are not perfect. Is it fair for us to expect otherwise?

I recently realized that I was unintentionally giving my 5-year old the wrong message. By constantly nagging her and jumping on every mistake she made {spilled paint when I warned her not to open it without me, forgot to put her pajamas in the hamper, fell and hurt herself after I told her not to run in the house}, I was subconsciously telling her that I expected her to be perfect. I was teaching her that it was not okay to make mistakes. At the end of a day of nagging and disciplining, I don’t feel good about myself, and I’m sure she didn’t feel good about herself from being constantly told she was doing something wrong.

I was ending each day feeling guilty. I felt bad about yelling and losing my temper, but at the heart of it, I was really feeling guilty about why I was yelling, that I had unrealistic expectations of my child. I thought to myself – do I make mistakes? Absolutely. Am I perfect? Far from it. I was holding her to a higher standard than I was holding myself. Which is not fair at all. Cue the serious mom guilt that I had forever dampened my child’s confidence and given her lots of material to talk about in therapy in 10 years.

In today’s Pinterest perfect world, we constantly have to remind ourselves that it’s okay to not be perfect to stay afloat. It’s okay to have a messy house {memories are being made}; it’s okay to be stressed out and defeated {mom-ming is hard}, it’s okay to make mistakes {don’t we all?}.  I know that I have to remind myself of these things all the time to get me through. I have a Type A personality, and I am a recovering perfectionist, so it’s hard for me to accept when I am less than perfect, but I’m learning.

As a recovering perfectionist, it is hard for me to even admit that I have set unrealistic expectations for her. To be honest, it is hard to watch my daughter make mistakes because of my personality. But I make mistakes in parenting all the time, and I try to be easy on myself. Why was I not allowing my daughter the same leeway? She deserves better. In this crazy world, I think the best thing we can give each other is understanding.

Of course, I didn’t set out to have unrealistic expectations for my child. My heart breaks just thinking of the times that I’ve subconsciously and unrealistically expected more of her when she wasn’t capable of more. Of course, I don’t expect my child to be perfect. I have good intentions. I discipline her because that is our job as moms and parents, to make sure they know what they should and shouldn’t be doing. But I’ve discovered that there’s a fine line between teaching your child right and wrong and responsibility and letting them be little and make mistakes.

You absolutely have to teach them what is wrong and right and responsibility, but I realize that maybe not every action requires a lesson. I’m trying to consciously pick my battles and nag less about the little things. I’m trying to be more patient and step into her shoes. I know that she is only 5 years old, but compared to my almost 3-year-old, she is older and more mature, so I expect more out of her than her sister. This is sometimes fair, but it’s not always. It helps to remind myself that she is only 5 years old, instead of thinking how old she is compared to her sister. 

I’m trying to take a deep breath and count to 4 when I want to let out my roar {thanks Daniel Tiger} that reminds her that she’s not perfect. I’m going to work on showing her that we both make mistakes and that I don’t expect her to be perfect. That I don’t want her to be perfect. As I’m working on letting go of perfect, I feel like a weight is being lifted off my shoulders.

When she gets upset about something, I ask her if it’s a little problem or a big problem. I’m trying to practice what I preach and ask myself first if her behavior was a big problem or a little problem before I react to it. Most times, I realize that it’s a little problem, and I”m learning to get those little problems go without nagging. I know it’s lucky that we have little problems now and they won’t always be that way. They say don’t sweat the small stuff, right? I’m trying to remember that at the end of the day, that if she forgets to put her pajamas in the hamper and they end up on the floor instead, it’s probably not worth the nag. Sometimes I don’t throw all of my clothes in the hamper either. I’m a hypocrite if I expect her to do it every time when I don’t either {been there, done that, yesterday}.

I’m also trying to highlight to her all the positive behavior she shows, so it balances out with the discipline of any negative behavior. I’m not perfect, and I’m never going to be, and neither is my daughter, and that’s okay. I wouldn’t want it any other way, we are both imperfectly perfect

Is it hard for you to let go of perfection as a mom? How do you let go?

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