There’s No Such Thing as a “Perfect” Parent

There’s No Such Thing as a “Perfect” Parent

One of the most important things I’ve done as a mom is accept my own imperfections. Not in the sense that I’ve given up on trying to improve, but I’ve accepted that I’m not good or perfect at some things and I don’t have to beat myself up over it all the time. In fact, being too down on yourself because of your imperfections can get in the way of moving forward towards self-improvement.

This must be a universal mom feeling because Hilary Duff also said something about it in a recent interview with E! News. She admits to not being quite back to her pre-baby shape, but she isn’t hung up on it, saying, “It’s obviously important to work hard and eat right and take care of yourself, but being at peace with your flaws is a really sexy thing.”

I couldn’t agree more. Being at peace with your flaws makes you feel more confident and that’s more appealing to other people. When I look back on my early days of being a mom, I was a lot more insecure about my parenting than I am now. And it bothered me. Feeling down and discouraged isn’t a great motivator. I don’t know if it was age or time or just finally realizing that perfect parenting was not going to be an option for me, but after a few years I realized I couldn’t hang on to worrying about all those flaws. I just quit thinking about it — maybe because I was so dang busy imperfectly raising my four kids!

Eventually I started to feel more confident about my imperfect-but-passable parenting. I realized that the areas that I was less than perfect in didn’t cancel out the things I was good at. There are lots of things I’m not perfect at:

I’m terrible at doing hair.

I struggle to fit exercise into my life.

I have never gotten the hang of planning meals and cooking dinner.

(I better take my own advice and stop listing off all of my imperfections before I start getting discouraged.)

Yet aside from all of that, there are things I’m pretty darn good at:

I’m great at reading to my kids.

I’m a stellar present picker-outer.

My kids do get fed, even if it isn’t a full-course meal every night (or ever).

When I dwell on the stuff I’m bad at, it makes me depressed. When I’m depressed, I don’t feel inspired to work on things. But once I started accepting that I wasn’t going to be perfect at everything, I felt happier.

I decided to just make the few meals I can do over and over again. And that’s OK! Breakfast for dinner is a wonderful option. No, I don’t run marathons or make it to Zumba, but I can jump on the trampoline and walk the dog — that’s not nothing!

It’s hard to move forward when you’re down on yourself, which is why I urge you not to waste time on your imperfections. Get over them. Find a way to deal, farm out, delegate, or work around your weaknesses.

Maybe someday I’ll learn to French braid hair. But until that day, I don’t have to feel bad about the plain pony tail I put my daughter’s hair in every day. And if I never learn to do a French braid? I can live with that.

Dwelling on your imperfections sucks all the joy out of parenthood. It’s just no fun to raise kids if every day serves as a reminder that you’re not good at your job. So make a list and set it aside in order to stop harping on the stuff you’re not good at. And if you have a weakness that really affects your parenting, find someone who’s good at it and copy them. Instead of thinking of it as a failure in yourself, think of it as an opportunity for someone else to share their talent with you.

When I think about my own children growing up and raising kids of their own, I hope that they don’t get too hung up on their weaknesses. Believe me, I know my kids have weaknesses, but I want them to know that there’s no sense in feeling bad about them.

Let it go, find someone else to do it for you, or, if you can muster the enthusiasm and have the energy, try to get better at it. The best thing you can do is focus on your strengths and build from there. Improvement doesn’t happen when you feel depressed. It’s only when you have some confidence that you can move forward and feel happy about being a mom.