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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Why I Am Not a Perfect Mom

So I thought that it was about time that someone said it out loud. It might shock some of you but I'm not *gasp* a perfect mom. I know, I know... You can't believe I put it in writing for the world to see. You can't believe I admitted to not being the very thing all mommies work so hard to be seen as.

I hate to be the one to let the secret out of the toy box, but no mom is perfect. Moms everywhere are putting on a strong front and we may look put together on the outside but on the inside it's another story.

Let's back up a little. So in addition to this mom gig, I teach college courses on human communication and we recently studied the concept of nonverbal communication. When we study this concept I usually show my students a TED talk by Amy Cuddy, a brilliant researcher who studies how our nonverbals can actually change our minds, it's not always the other way around. If you have a few minutes you should take the time to watch her brief talk on "faking it until you make it." It truly is profound and could change your life.

The reason I brought this up, though, is not for you to study nonverbal communications (although it is really interesting). This semester when I showed the video I couldn't stop thinking about parenting. Sometimes I do feel like I am just trying to appear like a perfect mom on the outside, but on the inside, I feel like my world is an overwhelming, thankless, tiresome repetitive chore that never ends. How long do I have to fake it, until I make it?

Sometimes its the clothes that we wear, like putting together a trendy outfit when all we really have the energy to wear are pajamas or leggings and a baggy shirt. Sometimes its the countless activities we enroll our children in and then blast on social media so everyone sees what a great mom we are. Sometimes its the foods that we try to feed our children in public, like organic string cheese or gluten-free granola, knowing that when you get home the little minions will just grab the Oreo cookies out of the food pantry. Sometimes it's the homework or good news from their teacher that we shout from the top of the tallest building, while quietly deleting the concerning emails from the school or carefully throwing the lower scores underneath the cereal box in the recycling bin before anyone can see them.

Being a good mom or dad is no easy accomplishment. But being perceived as a good mom or dad is even harder. I'm definitely not trying to gain any sympathy from anyone because whether you are a parent or not we all have perception struggles that we are trying to overcome. We all save face, whether it be at work or with our friends, but there is something about this whole mommy perception that is harder for me manage. I get so worn out from making sure I bring the healthiest snacks for the team after the soccer game or posting the perfect family picture after church on Facebook, that sometimes I just want to stop trying.

The thing is, my kids know I'm a good mom. I know I am a good mom. So why is it that I care so much about what all of you think?

I say we all just stop trying so hard to be perceived as the perfect parent and we start focusing on actually being it. Our kids don't care if we wear our pajamas all day on a Saturday. Our kids don't care if the hamburger they are eating is free range. Our kids don't care if we Tweet about taking them to the zoo.

Our kids just want us to be there for them.

In a few weeks when schools lets out I will start my most favorite and yet, I'll admit it, sometimes most dreaded three months of limited adult interaction with an overwhelming amount of kid interaction. I know I am still going to take selfies of my kids and I at swimming lessons. I realize that I will choose to leave the Oreos at home and grab the Cuties when I know I'll be around other mommies. I admit that I'll pridefully post pictures of my little clan of kiddos all over my Facebook feed.

Maybe, though, if I'm lucky, I'll start to care less about what kind of mom you think I am and more about what kind of mom I think I am: A darn good one.

A picture I didn't post on Facebook.



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