Southern Tier Voices: I Was A Perfect Mom
by Shelley MacPherson
I was a perfect mom.
Until the day I brought my firstborn home from the hospital.
I was parenting without a manual. I taught myself to survive sleepless nights and I looked forward to the day she would (eventually) grow to string her catnaps into longer stretches.
The days were really long; it wasn’t long before I felt less than perfect in my parenting role.
That’s when I became a "good-enough, doing the best I can" mom.
Except that wasn’t really true. I never settled for good enough.
Although I was always doing the best I could, I knew it wasn’t really good enough (for me). *Insert eye roll here*
I had high, unattainable standards.
Yet, I had real kids.
Sure, I had heard it all. “Nap when they nap. Dishes can wait.”
Of course, that didn’t apply to me and my high standards. I had to have a clean house, folded laundry, and streak-free windows.
If you looked in my windows, you would’ve seen that mixing the Play-Doh wasn’t permitted. You wouldn’t have seen anyone in the kitchen licking the spoon but, you would’ve seen a perfectly empty sink. I probably should’ve been hot-lined for being such a perfect parent.
If they showed up to take my kids away, they would’ve changed their minds when they saw how clean my house was.
Clearly a clean and orderly house equates perfect parenting.
Perfect parenting can’t exist in the same house that real people actually live in; it took me a long time to accept that truth (read as, 'still working on it').
Right now, I’m working on being the perfect grandmother. There’s no manual for grand-parenting either.
My definition of perfect is evolving -- I’m learning to welcome the beautiful chaos of my toddler twin grandsons when they visit.
Photo provided. The author's daughter and twin grandsons enjoying quality time at a park.
I still struggle with letting laundry sit in the dryer unfolded. It’s not easy for me to watch dirty dishes pile up in the sink. I’m the first (and only one) to catch the spaghetti they fling over the edge of their highchairs before it actually hits the floor.
I’m also the first to notice that my daughter can easily step over the spaghetti on the floor and she can just as easily go to bed with dishes in the sink. Watching my daughter push aside a pile of laundry on the couch so she can make room to read her boys a bedtime story, makes me smile.
I smile because my daughter grew up better than I raised her.
My daughter grew into a better version of the mom who raised her … and isn’t that the perfect wish for every generation?