Looking for perfection

If you are looking for perfection, this is the wrong place for you.  If you want to read how I cheerily awaken hours before my lovely, well behaved, well mannered children in order to cook a sumptious yet healthy breakfast, all from scratch, click out of here now. 
Because I am not perfect.  I am not a perfect mom. If you ask my son, I usually am not even a good mom, because I don’t let him just watch Mickey Mouse all day long and let him eat hot dogs and cookies.  I am not a perfect housekeeper–hygenic, usually, but cluttered and disorganized.  And I hate laundry, so I only do it when we run out of clean clothes and I can’t justify buying new socks at the store.
But here is the thing: Nobody cares that I am not a perfect mom/wife/housekeeper.
Nobody.

Perfection is not the goal.  My happy, healthy, well rounded kid–that is the goal.  The husband coming home to a decently healthy meal and not having to trip over a path of toys–that is the goal.  Making memories tonight with my family–that is the goal.
Too many people buy into the lie that your lifestyle choices have to be acceptable to others.  That, somehow, you are a failure if other people don’t admire you or even just agree with your choices.  That if your child isn’t doing all the things the other kids are, whether it is talking at a specific age or attending all the Mommy-and-Me classes or whatever else is going on in your social group, that you are making huge, life altering mistakes as a mother.  Too many moms I meet believe all this.

So today, I’m telling you this:
You don’t have to be perfect. You won’t be, even if you try.
Someone, somewhere, will disagree with the way you are raising your children/cleaning your house/working/not working, no matter what you do. 

And this is all okay.  It is okay not to do it all.  It is okay to ignore all the well meaning advice that you need to be doing this and going there and look a certain way.  You’ll be fine, your kids will be fine, your family will be fine, even if you have a two year old who refuses to eat anything but spaghettios and hot dogs. 

So relax.  Ignore the voices telling you to do this and be that.  Blow bubbles. Play outside.  Dance. Sing. Love.
Enjoy the little years.

Best years

There are a lot of things you don’t realize when you first become a mom.
Like that you won’t have anything in common with your old friends, and when you try to make new friends, you are so tired you have trouble making an intelligent conversation.

Or that you won’t realize that the child can unbuckle his high chair, until one morning you leave him alone in it for three minutes and the floor looks like this when you come back…

Nobody tells you that there are no more quick trips to the grocery store or that trying to see a movie reqires that strategy and organization of a military general planning a hostage rescue.

Nobody tells you that the belt on your vacuum cleaner will break just after your child dumps peas onto the living room carpet fifteen minutes before company shows up.

Nobody tells you that you will never have another minute alone in the bathroom, or that as soon as your son figures out how to unbuckle his car seat, every car ride will be filled with screaming.

It’s been one of those weeks. My husband has been busy. I’ve been exhausted and wanting a friend, another mom, to commiserate with. My son has been into everything. I’ve been alone a lot. I tried a few things, like story hour at the library, in order to get out of the house, but all of them turned into a disaster. Going to work this week was a savior, a vacation.
And then I had a patient grasp my hand, ask me how far along I was. Seven months, I said, and I have an almost-two-year-old at home. She lay back on the stretcher, closing her eyes, smiling at the memories.
“Tough years,” she said. “When they are all small. But,” she said, opening her eyes and looking at me. “But these are the best years of your life.”

And all I have to do is look into this little face, and I agree.

Mommy blogs

I don’t read Mommy blogs.  I have two or three blogs that I regularly read, and that is because I know those people in real life.  Very occasionally, though, when I have some extra time, I start clicking through and reading these delightfully decorated, always updated blogs.
And I laugh at them.

I read about how wonderful their homeschooling is, how clean and nicely decorated their house is, and in between all of this writing, they managed to put up 274 quarts of applesauce, handpicked from apple trees in their backyard that they fertilize with the special organic fertilizer they make in their kitchen. While their five year old is doing algebra at the dining room table and their fourteen year old daughter is busy sewing a complete fall wardrobe for the entire family.
Truthfully?  I suspect that their kids are watching Sesame Street and flooding the toilet.

I laugh because not only do I not believe the public image they present, but also because it is so far from the ideal for my life.  My ideal is spending lots of time with my kids, making messes, playing in the mud, fingerpainting on the kitchen floor.  My ideal is not the spotless house or the fresh eggs in the backyard or the widely read blog–good things, to be sure, but what would I have to give up for them?  Would I be giving up listening to my son’s giggles as he throws rocks into the creek?  Would I be missing out on watching him chase bubbles down the sidewalk, or twirling in the living room?  I could bake all our own bread, but what would I be missing out on while I did that?  I could have world’s spotless house, but what kind of message would it give my son?  Would it tell him that having a super clean house is more important than the train track he just built on the living room floor?

The bottom line to me is that if my son grows up and remembers a spotless house, organic-from-scratch-grown-in-our-garden food, but doesn’t remember me ever reading to him, I have failed as a mother.

My point isn’t that one should have a messy house or feed their kids a diet of sugary, processed foods. Of course not.  Those are good things–but are they always the best things?  My point is that there is a balance.  One can have a picked up, relatively hygenic household and pot roast with homemade mashed potatoes for dinner without neglecting all those special moments that make up a childhood.  My point is that as a mom, my goal is to never sacrifice the best for the good.  I never want to sacrifice missing my son’s giggles because I am doing something that some Mommy blogger out there told me I should be doing.  Maybe it works for their family, but in the end, I don’t need someone else’s approval on my parenting. 
So this afternoon, we’re skipping out on the dishes, and dinner very likely will be Burger King tonight.  You see, it’s a warm spring day, and I’m taking my little boy to the park.   Not too many days from now, not nearly as many as it seems, my little boy is going to get into his car and drive off to college.  And then I will have all the time in the world to clean and bake bread and write, but I won’t have my little boy kisses.
And I don’t want to miss a thing.

Having a life

I had a life once.
I just want to be clear about that.

In this former life, I wore things that weren’t maternity jeans with peanut butter and jelly smeared on them.  I went to movies and dinner with friends. I ate ice cream for dessert without worrying about it.  I stayed up late watching movies.  I slept in if I wasn’t working.  If I wanted to go somewhere, I put a jacket on and went.  I didn’t think about diaper bags, extra clothes, sippy cups, finding a coat for the toddler, finding the keys the toddler had stuck under the couch cushions, finding the shoes the toddler had thrown in the toilet, getting into the car(finally), only to have the toddler yell, “Mommy! Poopy!” and then have to unbuckle toddler, take toddler back inside, change stinky diaper, re-dress toddler, and go back to the car and leave, an hour after I started in the first place.

It was a good life.  One I really liked.

I have no complaints or regrets.

Except that life didn’t have this…

So, really, it wasn’t that much of a life, after all.