Do you ever beat yourself up for not being the perfect mother?
Ever think that when it comes to being a mother you should be good at it from day one and infallible from that day forward? That you’re a failure if you don’t make your own baby food, catch your child before every fall, have sex with your partner every day, and have a gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free dinner on the table every night?
Your rarely spoken, but oh-so-obvious goal? Be the perfect wife, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, colleague and mother. All day, every day.
Motherhood is hard. It has never been easy, and it never will be. But we’re all making it harder than it has to be by striving and aiming for perfection. We think it’s the daily duties of motherhood that are wearing us out, but it’s not.
It’s our expectations.
We don’t allow ourselves just to make cupcakes — we hold ourselves to the bar of knocking a brand-new recipe out of the park while making sure our sugar-high children enjoy each and every moment. It’s not the recipe that’s hard; it’s our expectation of how great the recipe will taste and how much fun we’ll have along the way that makes it so hard.
And while you’re over there trying to put lipstick on a pig with the perfection charade, deep down you know that perfection is the worst possible goal.
Here’s how I know you already know this.
While writing my book Slay Like a Mother, I conducted a research study with 5,000 mothers across the country and asked two questions: What kind of mother are you today? And what kind of mother would you like to be? The metric was simple: plot your answers on a scale of one to five, with one being a terrible mother and five being the perfect mother.
The average answer to the first question was 3.5. Fine. Well done, mamas. You’re above average. Shockingly, when it came to the second question, not a single mother in the entire study said she wanted to be a five. No one wanted to be the perfect mother.
When I asked why one mother quickly responded:
But it makes sense. It’s only natural that you hate perfect people. Everyone hates perfect people. It’s the reason we’d all rather share a glass of wine with Monica Lewinsky than Martha Stewart. Right?
The research results make sense. But here’s what I don’t get. If you hate perfect mothers so much, then why are you trying to be one?
The more flawed you are, the more interesting you are. The more mistakes you make, the more human you are. The more fallible you are, the more likable you are. The more you talk about your challenges, the more help you get.
Think about your friends. How many of them are perfect? None. And how much do you love them? A lot.
Being a mother is important, but just because a job is important doesn’t mean you have to be perfect at it. You know perfection isn’t possible, and you know people pretending to be perfect aren’t likable.
So set your sights on being more likable and less perfect and the world will be a better place.
And you’ll be less tired.