How letting go of perfection made me happier

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I haven’t always been a bad mom.

There was a time when my toddler’s perpetual lack of pants and propensity to carry the plunger all around the house to “mack stuff” with would have bothered me.

A lot.

Parenting perfection was a struggle. There was no time to be lazy.

When my first son was a baby, I made my own organic baby food. I used cloth diapers. I meticulously created those monthly photo shoots so that I would never have to look back and wonder exactly how my baby compared in size each month to a vintage chalk board and stuffed bunny. I drove across the city so that the Santa in my son’s Christmas picture was the most realistic; no shoddy mall Santa for my angel!

I actually created a cleaning “star” chart for myself.

If I completed three cleaning tasks per night after bedtime, I could keep the house looking charming(ish) all the time. I treated all screen time with disdain, and I looked AMAZING on Facebook.

That all changed when I got pregnant with my second. I was suddenly sick, fat, and tired. I simply physically couldn’t do what I had done before.  My husband was shockingly not receptive to my directives regarding parenting perfection. So, we bought Pampers. I downloaded Despicable Me.  My son ate a french fry and didn’t die. The house continued to provide warmth and shelter despite a disgraceful lack of vacuuming.

And we were happier!

I was actually able to spend my free time playing with my son instead of pureeing organic squashes or searching for a pumpkin I could cram him inside for pictures.  I realized that there is no such thing as perfect parents, and that Pinterest is a liar. If even experts can’t agree on how I should parent, (do and don’t purée food for babies, always and never co-sleep, cry it out is awesome and terribly harmful, pacifiers make great soothers and also ruin children’s lives forever) why was I so obsessed with doing things exactly “right?” I stopped caring about being perfect, and focused instead on just being present.

After my second son was born, I felt good again, but I didn’t revert back to my perfect parenting days. He wears Pampers at least half the time, and this year’s Christmas picture features a local Santa with his beard falling off. I’ll probably never be a “good” mom again, and it’s highly unlikely that any elf will ever grace my dusty shelves.

But when my 3 year-old eats marshmallows with his eggs for breakfast, he’ll eat them sitting right next to me.

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