Megan Again: Parental Perfection
By Megan Wirts
I am not perfect.
I don’t know any human being that is, since we all have our faults. I don’t care what you post on your Facebook or Instagram page. None of us are perfect. Stop your blaming and shaming of each other. Stop comparing yourself to that shiny, sparkly well put together mom with perfect makeup and stain free clothing. She’s probably struggling just as much, if not more, than you are with your stretched-out yoga pants and sweatshirt with coffee spilled down the front. Stop telling people that your way is the only way and the only truth. Just because it’s good for you, doesn’t mean it’s good for me and my family. Just because you were raised that way and you turned out alright, doesn’t mean everyone does.
Even though I know I am not perfect, I have spent my entire life striving for it. It’s one of my many flaws. I need people to like me and I feel like if my life is perfect people will love me and give me that approval that I have long desired. Some might say that is due to my astrological sign, I’m a Virgo and apparently that’s one of their personality traits. I know plenty of people that aren’t Virgos that I would call perfectionists and I know some Virgos that are definitely not perfect. So, to me that’s really a bunch of bologna.
I attribute my drive for perfection to the way I was raised, my desire to do things well and be the best at them. I know I’m not the best at everything I do, but I want to always do my best. I also know that the more I try to be perfect, the more I will fail. There aren’t any perfect parents, perfect spouses, perfect friends, or perfect children. We can only be the best that we can be in any given moment. So, try to be a little less hard on yourself when you mess up. Humans make mistakes. Forgive yourself, apologize, and move on. Just don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over, then you have a problem.
When I became disabled due to dystonia, I had to let go of my idea of a perfect life and not see my disability as a failure. I was no longer going to be that healthy, energetic wife and mother that I had tried so hard to become. I wasn’t going to be able to drive my kids to their soccer practices, pick them up from school or take them to the mall anymore. I wasn’t going to be able to provide for them some of their wants any longer because we had lost a significant amount of income when I had to stop working. My husband had to pick up a lot of what I could no longer physically do. I have felt guilty and have struggled greatly with accepting that my “perfect life” was over. I worried, and still do worry, that my dystonia and how I have dealt with it, will ruin my children in some way and they will have to spend thousands of dollars of therapy because of me.
My mom guilt is huge! I am learning to forgive myself though and learning to let go of the things that I have no control over. I also realize that because of my disability, I have more time to give to my children. More time to listen to their stories, no matter how long and drawn out they are. More time to snuggle and just be with them. Just because I can’t be the mom I had imagined I would be in my mind, doesn’t mean I can’t still be a good mother. A good mother, doesn’t equal perfect mother though.
If parenthood has taught me anything, it has taught me that perfection is an illusion, unobtainable and trying to control everything is a fool’s game. Guess what? Your parents were not perfect, and neither were theirs, so you definitely aren’t going to be perfect. We can just try to be better. With every generation we learn something new, like seatbelts are good idea and lead paint is bad for your health. That’s how humans evolve and change as the years pass by. We learn from our parents, what to do, or in some cases, what not to do, and take those lessons and apply them to our lives.
When I became a mother, I vowed that would never use my children’s fears to punish them. I don’t want my children to fear me, I want them to respect me and know they also have my respect. Children are humans too and like I have said before, humans are not perfect. How can we expect our children to be perfect if we ourselves are completely flawed? We cannot. I want to be better and because of that desire for being better, I sometimes still strive for that unattainable perfection. Which means, I have to forgive myself when my idea of perfection is not reached.
Sometimes, I yell. I hate that I am a yeller. When I am mid yell, I feel terrible about it and I cringe inside with every word that comes out of my mouth in anger. So, when I feel like I am about to lose my crap, I will take a few deep breaths and sometimes I need to just simply walk away so that I can collect myself. Their father, on the other hand, he is not a yeller. He is gentle and calm. He is the complete opposite of my father. I’m so incredibly thankful for his patience and cool head when my head is steaming hot and my patience flew out the window long ago. He will look at me and say, “Meg, I got this, take a break.” Have I ever mentioned how lucky I am to have him? I am. Anyway, because I can take a break, I can come back to the situation with a calmer demeanor and actually speak to my children like they are humans. I am able to forgive myself for messing up, we will apologize to each other, resolve the issue and move on. It’s a beautiful thing.
I don’t always feed my children perfectly healthy meals. We eat pizza, greasy deep fried french fries, drink drinks filled with high fructose corn syrup and eat all kinds of garbage foods when I am too exhausted to cook a good meal. I have forgotten to put the tooth fairy’s money under their pillows more times than I can count. I get super annoyed and stressed out when my kids ask the same questions over and over or can’t seem to find their hat when it’s literally in front of their face! My laundry is never done. I have accidently given away their favorite pair of shoes because I didn’t realize they weren’t supposed to be in the Goodwill pile. Sometimes everything you have planned for their birthday party falls through and you have to go with plan X, Y or Z. I have yelled and said words that I regret and hope that those words do not become the voice in their heads. I have apologized and let them know that their mom is far from perfect, but she is doing her best.
All a parent can do is love their children unconditionally and try to raise them to be kind and contributing members of society. Don’t compare yourself or your children to others. Throw your idea of perfection out and just be the best you can be with the circumstance you are given.
Be a real parent, not a perfect one.
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