My friend sent me a link to an article called “The 10 Secrets of One Unflappable Mother.”
Of all her points, this one was my favorite: #5 – Getting out the door in the morning (without anyone in tears) is the only thing you have to achieve before 8:30 a.m. Stop trying to organize everything. Your only goals are to leave the house looking good and without your first-grader sobbing because she hates getting dressed in the morning. If that means you put her to bed in her school clothes to avoid a 7 a.m. tantrum, I think you’re a genius.
On a literal level, I can relate because for the past two days, Hugh has reacted to getting dressed as if he is Hansel being thrown in the oven. All-out screaming, big tears running down his face, body collapsing on the floor. This as a result of the putting on a pair of shorts. Then again after putting on a shirt. I just stood there with my head cocked to the side, a balloon cloud hovering off to my left on which I can see written the giant word, “Really?”
But the bigger message I agree with from her article is this one: quit being a perfectionist. Last night, I started worrying that Hugh doesn’t eat enough fruit (none) or vegetables (some, but when was the last time?). I need to make him more healthy meals, I thought. Actually, I need to grow healthy food. Then make it into healthy meals. I know this is possible. I’ve seen it happen on Facebook. But then my internal alarm went off (I’ve set it to recognize perfectionist and judgmental thoughts, especially that have their roots in Facebook).
The alarm said: you worked 9 hours today, then you were on an one-hour conference call. You had an hour left to spend with your son, and instead of cooking vegetables, you ran up and down hills outside. You built a fort and played hide the train. You snuggled under a blanket and watched Wheels on the Bus. So what if he ate a microwaved meatball for dinner while sitting in his fort? So what if he skipped his bath?
Her article ends with: “Stop thinking of yourself as split into separate but equal roles: mother, worker, me. You are one person, indivisible, who just happens to wear many hats.”
The mom Hugh gets is the Mom Hugh gets. She works and doesn’t eat much fruit. She likes to travel sometimes without Hugh and also goes out to eat once a week with his other mommy. She brings Hugh into bed when he’s crying instead of letting him cry it out. She teaches Hugh soccer and buys him too many trains.
There’s no prescription for a perfect mom or a perfect kid. The best thing we can do is let go of the judgment and comparisons and striving for perfection. Because it’s already perfect, just the way it is. If you don’t believe me, ask the kid in the fort eating a meatball and holding a train.