A friend Julie posted on Facebook yesterday how she’d been the only mom who’d forgotten it was pyjama day at school, so her little one had rocked up in normal clothes and it had made her feel like such a failure. She also said that it was such a little thing, this pyjama day mix up, so why did it upset her so much? Something about her situation really resonated with me, and I think it’s because you look around and see that ALL the other parents have remembered pyjama day, so what’s wrong with you that you can’t keep it together?
Julie is not a bad mom, in any way (quite the opposite in fact), but she felt like one yesterday and she shouldn’t have. It was also interesting to read all the comments below her post, all the moms and dads admitting their own ‘failures’ with a sense of relief, almost like they were so glad to get it off their chests once and for all.
Why have we become so hard on ourselves as parents? Why are we setting such impossible-to-meet high standards? I think it’s partly to do with the digital age, the ease with which we can share parenting successes with others: our perfectly coordinated birthday parties, our organic gluten-free home-made bran muffins, our impeccably decorated new baby room. So we all start to form this completely inaccurate vision in our heads of how others parent, and all the ways in which we are failing ourselves.
Well I’m over it guys. Over it! And as a parenting blogger I feel a certain responsibility to keep it authentic (which is hopefully another reason you like reading what I have to say). So with that in mind, I thought I’d make a list of all the ways I’m an imperfect parent, and hopefully you’ll find one or two you can relate to:
- I left my son at school an hour longer than I should have last week because I didn’t know extra-murals had ended (these was a Whatsapp message but do you know how many Whatsapp messages I get?)
- I also got a call from my daughter’s school asking me who was picking her up from school because no one was waiting for her. There WAS someone there but I hadn’t told Rachel the change of plan and she knows that she needs to check these things first (so one parenting “fail” and one parenting win rolled into that situation).
- I forgot to pack her water bottle one day this week so she had nothing to drink during sport. But guess what? She’s a proactive little thing so she went and found some water herself.
- On the first day of term she couldn’t play hockey because I hadn’t bought a gum guard yet. She sat on the side while all her friends played.
- I often don’t have birthday presents for kids’ parties sorted so I end up regifting something we got for one of my kids’ birthdays (unused I promise!) or something I’ve been sent for this blog. In a perfect world I would buy a batch of 20 books online and keep them in a drawer but I’m just not that organised!
- My kids don’t always brush their teeth in the morning. Ben has got a thing about it, so sometimes after breakfast I just don’t bother. His little breath seems fine and his teeth are still strong.
- I sometimes get home from work and have no idea what they’re going to eat for dinner. In a perfect world I would have planned their meals for the week beforehand but mostly, I just don’t have time. So they have ham + cheese toasties, or sometimes even cereal, or fish fingers and chips (AGAIN). I do try to give them something homemade and nutritious a few days a week but mostly we’re just scratching around the fridge trying to make do.
- We run out of milk FREQUENTLY. And then I can’t make porridge and they can’t have cereal for breakfast so I make them a piece of toast with butter on it and that is their uninspiring breakfast.
- Nearly all of Rachel’s pants have holes in them. She wears a lot of leggings and then runs around tripping over everything and I just don’t have the capacity, time or darning skills to fix those holes on her knees. She seems fine.
- I totally bribe my children with the offer of chocolate (THEY EAT SUGAR GUYS!). Not every day, but in certain desperate situations (like when they’re about to kick off in the shopping centre and I just don’t feel like a scene).
- I know I turned off the TV but they definitely still have screen time! They love watching shows on Netflix and I’m so fine with switching that on if I need to cook dinner or get something done.
- Their bedrooms are cluttered and un-coordinated and not nearly Instagrammable. There is Lego everywhere, and pictures they’ve drawn of Spiderman presticked to the walls, and piles of books about to fall over. Since putting Ben in the same room as Rachel we’ve meant to fix up the room but I haven’t got around to it and they really don’t seem to mind.
- Oh and finally, and did I mention that both my children were Caesarian births and only breastfed for 8 weeks? And so far they’ve actually been healthier that many of their peers and are in no way disadvantaged.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means (that blog post would be FAR too long). Also, I’ve found that remembering all these finer details gets much harder as kids get older and start going to school. There are so many small things to remember that it can feel like a full time job keeping on top of it all!
But what we are showing our children, as we drop the ball often, is that we are rounded people with many facets to our lives. ‘Parenting perfection’ is impossible and we need to let it go. We can only love them, laugh when we fail and then be kinder to ourselves as parents. Parenting needs more happier mothers and fathers and I think this requires more honesty from us, both on and offline. Also, we just need to RELAX. Stop over thinking, over supervising and over delivering on certain things because we feel guilt about not being with them 24/7. This does no one any good.
So who’s with me?! Feel free to list any ways you’re not a perfect parent in the comments below.
And have wonderfully imperfect parenting weekends!