Thursday, May 9, 2013

Speaking out against the pressure to be perfect

I am about to speak out against the pressure to be perfect.

My home has toys strewn throughout. I haven't cleaned up from breakfast yet, and I'm still in my pyjamas. It's 9am and we have been up for 3 hours. In all likelihood, the house will still look this way at 4pm when my husband gets home, and neither of us care.

Why? Because our son is happy. Because today I am taking him to visit his little pal to play while I hang out with another friend and mother. Because keeping my son stimulated and happy is important to both of us. Because keeping ME happy is important to both of us.

I sometimes wish I didn't have such a deep need for 'me time' and 'down time'. But I do. And when I don't get it, my positive attitude and energy can go down the tubes really fast. It's tempting to want to place myself in the same league as all the other mothers who go-go-go and whose houses are spotless and can talk about never getting even 20 minutes to themselves. If we're being honest, I feel like I should be that person a lot of the time. However, I am happiest when I let go of the need to be anybody but who I am, and I focus on taking care of myself so that I can take care of my son.

But back to the heart of the matter: am I a good mother if all the laundry isn't done? If the floors aren't vacuumed, and supper isn't on the table when my husband gets home? Yes. Because my child is happy and I am happy. Luckily for me, a happy child and wife makes my husband happy, too.

There are times when I hit all the points on my to-do list and end the day with a happy family all-around. There are days when I damn near kill myself trying and wind up with an upset child and mother. But you know what the best, no-fail path to a happy family is? Abandoning all my expectations for how things should be or what I should be able to do, and just throwing myself into the moment with my family. That always ends in smiles, or at very least, a sense of fulfilment. That, even if it didn't take away illness or teething pain or the grumps, I gave my son what he needed. Or that I gave myself what I needed to refill my tank.

Only you know what you need - whether that is more or less than society tells you that you should need.

You do not need to be perfect. You just need to be you.