Monday, August 29, 2011

Little Miss Perfect

Not long ago, parenting.com conducted a survey of over 26,000 moms and the results were revealed both on a Today Show segment and on the internet. Of all the "mom confessions," the one that was least surprising but most bothersome was the number of moms who admitted to passing judgement on other moms. Of course, we're all occasionally guilty of thinking that a kid is too old for a pacifier or that a mom spends too much time at work. But just because we all do it, doesn't mean it's okay. In fact, it's never okay because all we're doing is reinforcing the pressure women face to be perfect at everything.

I know I'm not the only woman who feels like I am expected to be a superhuman combination of Martha Stewart, Betty Crocker, and Carol Brady. Whether the pressure comes from societal, social, or familial sources, it seems there is always a reason to feel inadequate. Do I spend enough time with my kids? Am I providing my family with the right nutrition? Is my house clean enough? Am I taking care of myself? Even if we could do all those things right, there are plenty of other things that no one can balance perfectly. If you work too much, then you're not spending enough time with your kids. If you spend too much time with your kids, then you're "letting yourself go." We just can't win.

It's about time we acknowledge that we're all doing our best even if we're not the best - which no one is and anyone who seems to be is just overly committed to never letting anyone else know about it. So if you're one of those moms who does the flight-of-the-bumblebee-cleanup when a car pulls into her driveway; who can't go anywhere without her makeup; whose kid always wears matching ribbons and bows; and who would never admit that she sometimes feels overworked, overwhelmed, and overtired; well, your secret is out.

The truth is that there is no such thing as a perfect mom, perfect wife, or perfect woman. But there are lots of great ones, and if you're doing your best to be yourself, love your family, and manage the juggling act that is life, then you're one of them. So don't let those "perfect" moms fool you into thinking that anyone else out there has a better handle on life than you do. And don't let the fear of judgement stop you from being proud of who you are and celebrating all that you do right.

That's why people who stop by my house on any given day shouldn't be surprised to find my living room in complete disarray, bed unmade, and dishes piled in the sink; or my kid running around with stains on her shirt, hair not combed, and remnants of lunch stuck on her face; or me with no makeup and a poorly constructed ponytail. If you catch me on a day like that, you'll see no sign of embarrassment over the condition of my house or the appearance of myself or my child. Instead, I'll be proud that I'm confident enough to allow people into the imperfect parts of my life. The same goes for my discipline practices, parenting choices, and marriage dynamics. So go ahead, judge away. At least I know I'm doing my part to break the cycle of perfect images. Of all the judgmental labels people might put on me, I can rest easy knowing that "Little Miss Perfect" will never be one of them.

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