Why Moms Struggle for Perfection

by Sue Dickinson

Do you ever lose your temper with your kids and feel like a terrible mom afterwards? Have you cheated with a chocolate donut and felt like you may as well quit your diet altogether? How many times in one day do you tell yourself you could have done something better?

More importantly, how many times have you congratulated yourself for doing well? If you are like most women, not often. Few of us ever feel that we are doing enough.

Mrs. Fields is renowned for her maxim, "Good enough never is." Now, I love Mrs. Field's cookies, but this comment should never be applied to motherhood. All it does is contribute to every woman's feelings of guilt. Is there any woman who can truly achieve perfection?

Women - and especially moms - are easily trapped by the perfection mentality. After all, a mom is an amazing creature! We have been made to be able to survive on minimal sleep; create meals from a cup of macaroni and tomato paste; coordinate the entire family's work, school and sporting activities; kiss every boo-boo; listen to every heartache; celebrate every victory; and keep everyone in clean socks and underwear (whether or not the rest of the clothing is clean is optional).

And we do our best!

But then we raise the bar, telling ourselves that we could do better, that good enough never is.

Have you always secretly wanted to try a marathon, but were scared you'd end up at the back of the pack? And since you couldn't be the best at it, you decided it wasn't worth it to do it at all?

Have you been given an opportunity at work, and instead of the surge of pride you knew you deserved to feel, you felt nothing but fear that you wouldn't be able to do it right?

Over the years, I've faced many terrifying events. But probably the most petrifying was my fear of becoming a parent. To be responsible for a young life - to be the one accountable for whether they grow to be a delinquent or a darling - that's a lot of pressure!

Yet parenting isn't a job we can give up on, even if we are afraid. Somehow, we have to find the courage to jump in and do our best, even if it isn't perfect.

And really, what about parenting is perfect? It starts with a painful delivery and moves into months of spitting up, pooping, ear infections and crying. We then get to move into the terrible twos, the independent fours, and the rebellious teens. We get blamed for forgetting show and tell, putting "healthy food" in the lunchboxes and talking to our ten-year-old in front of her friends.

Still, we muddle through, loving our kids and hoping that somehow, despite our fears, that our kids will grow to know that we love them and want what's best for them. Hoping that even if now and then we yell too much; even if we ignore our kids for a half hour to watch a clandestine episode of "Friends"; even if we secretly eat the last of the ice cream and blame it on their dad, that they'll turn out okay anyway.

I'll never forget the advice a friend of mine gave me before my son Douglas was born. I was terrified over the responsibility of caring for a defenseless baby. Finally, I broke down and admitted to her that I was scared. "That's okay," she replied. "You can be scared. Just do it scared."

What a liberating statement! Just like the Nike commercial, I didn't have to wait for perfection. I didn't have to wait until the time was exactly right and I was totally ready mentally to be a mom. I could do it now - scared - and just do the best that I could.

It's true that we have the responsibility to do our best. And when it comes to our kids, most mothers desire more anything to excel as parents. But isn't it refreshing to know that we don't have to be perfect? That we can do it scared? That sometimes, good enough really is good enough?

Sue Dickinson is the author of "What's a Mom to Do? Overcoming the Urge to Put Your Life on Hold" and the creator of www.UnlimitedMom.com, designed to celebrate the many facets of Mom. Because when you recognize them all, your possibilities are unlimited! Visit http://www.unlimitedmom.com/whats-a-mom-to-do-book-by-sue-dickinson.php

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