Sunday, November 10, 2013

How I Realized that I'm Perfect

I am the perfect mum.  No, really, it’s true.

Over the past 10 months, I have spent a lot of time lamenting the fact that I’m not perfectly perfect, and attempting to quantify my exact perfection percentage.  On days when E naps well and I bake cookies and take her to the park and change her nasty poopy cloth diapers without even saying “ew,” I get 90%; 10% docked for not breastfeeding, of course.  On days when neither of us has slept well and we’re both cranky and I forget to bring E’s bottle with us to the park and she cries and gives me a cleavage hicky all the way home - 5%; only more than 0 because I’m not physically abusive, of course.

Is it??[The blog where I got this is just one of many glimpses of perfection, as I see it.]

And, I’m not alone.  There appear to be a lot of blog posts about the “futile” effort most of us mums make to be perfect.  I’ve written about this numerous times, on some occasions blaming other mums, sometimes blaming “society” for putting all this pressure on us new mums.  And sometimes blaming my own guilt.

But, I had a profound moment while contemplating this last week.  I was looking at my amazing daughter as she crawled around our livingroom drooling soggy apple pieces that I thought she’d swallowed during lunch (where are these hidden pockets where she keeps food for hours??) and I realized - Holy Shit, I AM the perfect mum!

We all are.  

(You know, barring any abuse, neglect, etc, but knowing most of my readers, I’m sure I don’t have to specify that.)

But, really, I think this is the thing we all need to realize -- not that “perfection is unattainable” or that “we should resign ourselves to our own mediocrity."  No, what we need to start telling ourselves is that we already are perfect.  We already are achieving the highest level of our abilities.  We already are the way we need to be.  Now, we just need to sit back and enjoy it, bask in our, and our babies’, perfection...because it is fucking amazing!!!

The problem with the old “perfection is unattainable” adage that’s supposed to make us feel better is that, well, it doesn’t make us feel better.  It acknowledges that there is some ideal out there that we will never measure up to.  How fucking depressing is that?  I haven’t heard anything so depressing since I was a child who, because of a crush on a boy (hah), joined a Baptist youth group where they told me we all were born sinners and had to spend our whole lives trying and trying and trying to be like Jesus -- even though we all knew we never could.  I didn’t believe that, right off the bat.  And I was just a kid!  So, why then, do I accept this similar argument about motherhood (“here is maternal perfection, but you’ll never achieve it, so suck it up accept your mediocrity”) without even questioning it?  I mean, what if mediocrity is perfection?  Has anyone asked that question?

When we believe that there is a formula out there for the “perfect mother,” then whether we like it or not, our own mothering gets contrasted against that perfection (the Jesus character of mothers, if you will).  Therefore, everything we do as a mum ends up falling short, being painted in the negative.  Like, 

“I use cloth diapers most of the time, but we use sposies at night.  Don’t tell anyone.”  Or, 

“I tried to breastfeed, but had to supplement with formula.  So not perfect.”  Or, 

“I wanted to hold and cuddle my baby all the time, but my back gave out and now I frequently use the stroller.”  Or 

“I wanted to love every minute of motherhood, but sometimes, like when my toddler has just eaten an ant and spat it back out and eaten it again and then spat it in my hand, or when my baby decided to spray-shit all over the bathtub, or when my 10 month old is up from 3-6am for no reason except an apparent hatred for me, I swear under my breath and wish I were a kidless 30-something gallivanting around the world and living in a cheap roach-infested flat because it ‘has great light’ and I can paint nude portraits of hot young college students there while sipping endless bottles of wine and smoking cigarillos.”

But, you know what?  We need to shed this whole comparison to perfection thing.  Because it’s doing us no favors, as I’ve pointed out.  We need to reclaim motherhood, real motherhood as perfection.  We don’t need to make excuses for not breastfeeding or for using disposable diapers or for sometimes letting our child cry.  Or even for sometimes wishing we weren’t parents or that we had more freedom and less responsibility.

Not only are all of these things mothers do, they are things perfect mothers do. We don’t need to apologize for them.  Why should we apologize for perfection?

So, mommies, go forth and own it.  OWN your perfection.  Stop saying “I was gonna, but...” or “I wish I could..., but...”  Say, “I did this, and it was perfect.”  There’s no need to compare yourself to anyone else or, worse, to any mythical ideal.  Perfection needs neither comparison nor excuse.

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