I wrote this on one of my mommyboards in response to a thread about what kind of cereal our kids eat, which drew the typical responses of how they only ate whole-grain, sugar-free sticks and twigs with milk. I realize lately we have been encouraged to post about what a *good* mom we are, and I’m not saying I’m a good mom OR a bad mom. I’m a real mom, no more no less.

Do you ever read something and just want to say “Oh cut the bullsh*t already!”? I’m officially at that point.

I’m done competing for the Perfect Parent title. Consider me a dropout.

I used to be a perfect parent. I did everything just as I should, and made sure everyone knew it. I was quick to jump into the posts where we all bragged about what all-natural, whole-grain, preservative free foods we were feeding our babies. I breastfed. I refused to let them cry it out. I carried bottles of Purell in my diaper bag. I did everything ‘right’.

Time and experience has changed me. Maybe it’s because with 3 kids I’m just worn out. Maybe everything I’ve been through with Brendan’s speech delay has changed my outlook. Or maybe I’ve decided that I’d rather be a happy ‘ok mom’ than drive myself crazy trying to be a Perfect Mom.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have my convictions. I still think breastfeeding is the best start, I still don’t believe in letting them CIO, and yes, fruits and veggies are certainly important. But I’m also ready to admit I do a few things I probably ‘shouldn’t’. And I’m not afraid to say it here amongst the Perfect Moms we all feel so pressured to look like.

My kids’ favorite cereal is raisin bran. But if I catch Cocoa Crispies on sale for $1.25 a box that week, I don’t mind treating the kids and getting it for them. They love oatmeal, and they really love the kind that has those little sugar dinosaurs in them.

Brendan is a very difficult child. VERY difficult. At almost 4 he still throws tantrums, and his 2 year old brother likes to imitate him. You can imagine how fun it is trying to run errands with the two of them. I have become the mother that the Perfect Moms throw dirty looks at in line at the grocery store.

My kids know what McDonald’s is, because we eat there once a week. And yes, I let them get fries with their meal.

I have great days where I love my kids to pieces. And I have days where I’ve sat in the bathroom and cried because I was so stressed, I didn’t see how I could get through the day.

My kids bedrooms are a mess right now. I have no plans to clean them till Saturday.
Come to think of it my kitchen is not exactly company-ready either.

My kids watch tv. Not all the time, but enough. And especially when I need to get something done.

Brendan doesn’t know all his letters yet, and I’m not a bit worried about it.

So there ya go, Confessions of a No-Longer Perfect Mom. The jig is up, I’m turning myself in. Truth be told, if everyone is alive at the end of the day, thats good enough for me. 🙂

45 Comments on A Perfect Parent, Reformed

  1. Mommy Daisy
    May 10, 2007 at 10:25 am (10 years ago)

    And real you are. Good for you for stating the facts. I think we all try to paint a pretty picture for everyone else. But then we’re not being who we truly are. My kid eats Life or Golden Grahams for breakfast. HA!

    Reply
  2. N
    May 10, 2007 at 10:29 am (10 years ago)

    Our parenting is almost exactly as you have described… the REALITY parenting. I can’t imagine the amount of stress these “Perfect” parents put themselves through on an hourly basis, living their lives according to parenting books that, in many cases, were written by people who aren’t even parents. Only difference between our house and yours is: We have FOUR of the little monkeys running around, so ours is bound to be more of a mess. 😉

    Reply
  3. Cakehead
    May 10, 2007 at 10:45 am (10 years ago)

    I truly think there are some parents that are better than I am, and that aggravates me to no end. You know, the ones with five kids in that many years who have it so together, who feed their kids perfect foods, and have this great knack of actually being able to TEACH them. Yes, I’m jealous. I’m jealous that they can hold it together while I can’t. It makes it harder for me to accept myself for who I am, but I am slowly learning that truly, nobody is perfect. I’m realizing that while my patience may be thinner, my ability to say no somewhat lacking, I give out just as much love, and have just as much to offer my son as anybody else. I still reserve the right to feel “stung” when a perfect mom pipes up, though.

    Reply
  4. AbsolutelyBananas
    May 10, 2007 at 10:53 am (10 years ago)

    although I fanatically starch and iron my child’s underwear, make his bed daily, vacuum twice a day, feed my family only home-cooked organic meals, arrange play-dates with ethnically and socioeconomically diverse ranges of children, listen only to classical music, and look completely put-together and stylish AT ALL TIMES… I do look down from my self-erected pedestal with respect on moms like you who are willing to be “just ok.” (sigh) I realize that not everyone can be perfect like me.
    (I had waaay too much fun writing that)

    Reply
  5. Her Bad Mother
    May 10, 2007 at 11:04 am (10 years ago)

    RAH RAH RAH!

    Can I just say, ditto?

    Reply
  6. Rhonda
    May 10, 2007 at 11:09 am (10 years ago)

    OMG you post on a mommyboard. hehe

    I loved your post and think it is all too true. I’m just happy that when I kiss my kids goodnight they smile and say I love you.

    Reply
  7. Aldara
    May 10, 2007 at 11:20 am (10 years ago)

    I just wanted to let you know, my kids also know what McDonalds is. I still think you are a good parent and a lot of the those “Perfect Moms” are not really perfect and are hiding something and that perfection is just an act!
    Hugs
    Aldara

    Reply
  8. Jamie
    May 10, 2007 at 11:24 am (10 years ago)

    amen sista!

    Reply
  9. Annie
    May 10, 2007 at 11:35 am (10 years ago)

    I have been thinking along the same lines lately. This is something that I love about reading blogs, yours and so many others. There are so many real women, real moms who are HONEST and say it’s okay to pick your battles. I am starting to realise that the ‘oh so perfect’ moms are probably not so, and that’s okay too – but I for one am steering clear of the sanctimonious proclamations of perfection that have been making me feel downright inadequate lately. I am a normal, real, sometimes stressed to the hilt mom – and there are MANY more like me 🙂

    Reply
  10. Peg
    May 10, 2007 at 11:45 am (10 years ago)

    Oh, thank GOD you’re not a perfect parent…I’d have to hate you. LOL

    Hey, some days, my Hub will ask how my day was…I nod in the general direction of the children, and say, “Hey, they’re alive, they’re fed, no one’s bleeding–my job here is done!”

    I do have an long-time friend who is a ‘perfect’ parent. She says in all honesty (a couple of glasses of wine in her, and she and I gab like we did when we were 9 years old, and her Perfect Crown gets a wee bit off-kilter!) that it is a freakin’ DISEASE. Seriously, she’s considered that she may be OC about parenting and housewivery (is that even a word?)

    Reply
  11. Heather
    May 10, 2007 at 12:02 pm (10 years ago)

    But Sara, do you judge me for catching in the act of vacuuming my house in the June Cleaver skirt and heels? Bwahahahahaha!

    The state of my kitchen and just the entire house would testify how I don’t give a hoot about being the perfect mom.

    Reply
  12. Diane
    May 10, 2007 at 12:16 pm (10 years ago)

    AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  13. Smiling Mom
    May 10, 2007 at 12:30 pm (10 years ago)

    And that’s exactly why I NEED a phone call and about 30 minutes warning before those who like to judge (Ah-mm in-laws) come over. Throw the junk into our bedroom, do the dishes and mop the main floor. I survive, hour by hour, at times! Great post.

    Reply
  14. Tina
    May 10, 2007 at 1:12 pm (10 years ago)

    Nobody is perfect. Not even mom and it’s good to even let the kids know that. I do.

    “mommy makes mistakes too sweetheart.” I say to them more often then not.

    I am one of those moms who really really can’t stand seeing kids eating crap food…on a day to day, moment to moment notice…but I am ALL FOR the occasional sweet cereal, the occasional pizza pocket, the occasional hotdog ( and I am vegetarian and very anti hot dog on top of it.) but everything within moderation. Nothing is written in stone. I applaud your honesty. I agree with you.

    There is loads of BS on mommyboards. And if you are as curious as I am, was, I don’t frequent them anymore, you can, i did, investigate user names and find out all kinds of (other shit) on them….at other sites. They don’t even realize that people can do that! THE LIES I tell you. THE LIES are unimaginable. Turned me right off. Not to mention the hypocrisy…a group all taking off to go talk about you somewhere else. (LOL).
    Clicks. haha.

    Not missing it.

    Reply
  15. Toni
    May 10, 2007 at 1:23 pm (10 years ago)

    I think the term to use here is ‘A Real Mom’. I do the SAME!

    Reply
  16. Jamie
    May 10, 2007 at 3:35 pm (10 years ago)

    Who among us is perfect… honestly?!?!?! You know what has forced me into feeding my kids the healthy stuff? The knowledge that my 5 year old, lovingly referred to as K3 has a whole plethora of food sensitivities…multiple chemical sensitivities… the works. I may have had a lot less stress in the preceding 4 1/2 years if I had just fed them “right” from the beginning. But goly geeze… I am human. And as such, my kids knew McDonalds by age 2… sure I try to get milk and apples but if they want soda and fries so be it! They get candy… on the holidays (especially halloween) they eat all they want. If they throw up? All well… we have all been there. Sure they watch tv… and too much of it… but I still restrict shows I think are not appropriate, such as Sponge Bob. Their rooms are messy… and OMG! There are small toys out that my 2 year old could potentially choke on if she deemed it tasty. I have four kids… I am the mom others look at like I am bonkers… and maybe I am. Now, I can proudly stand up and say “look how healthy my kids eat”… because I have too, because it isn’t fair to put one child on no artifical colors (in EVERYTHING!), no artificial flavors and no artificial perservatives. I have forced this diet on all my kids. Even though it is a health issue for K3, she still gets an occassional sip of a soda thats not 100% natural… or a piece of candy that has bad stuff in it. Does anyone realize how difficult it is in todays world to actually restrict these items from your diet fulltime? So I say… no matter how “perfect” we are as parents, we are all human. We all yell sometimes, allow food that maybe isn’t in the right spot on the pyramid and don’t exactly babyproof our homes after the first child. Human parents are perfect parents. We love beyond all else. We are teaching our children what’s important… we are showing them how to be real. That’s what counts! Kudos to you and all the rest of us, “real moms”.

    Reply
  17. kerry
    May 10, 2007 at 5:24 pm (10 years ago)

    Great post! I keep threatening to post about my not-so-perfect ways… and I will… because lord knows I’m not perfect!!!

    Reply
  18. Annika
    May 10, 2007 at 6:01 pm (10 years ago)

    I think sticking to your principals and relaxing where things just aren’t as important makes you a great mom! But then, I am the woman whose ONE YEAR OLD cried when I wouldn’t turn on the PlayStation for him…

    Reply
  19. Angela
    May 10, 2007 at 8:15 pm (10 years ago)

    Preachin’ to the choir, sister! Hallelujah and amen!

    Reply
  20. Tulipmom
    May 10, 2007 at 8:21 pm (10 years ago)

    You know, I hate to make sweeping generalizations, but I think some of OUR moms (OK, my mom, who I love dearly) did us a disservice by making us think they were perfect moms. It’s really only in the last couple of years that my mother has talked to me about things she wishes she’d done differently. All the things she didn’t notice because she was so busy scrubbing the floor after every meal and making sure my brother and I were on our best behavior.

    I’d like to think our less-than-perfect way is better, or at the very least, healthier for EVERYONE.

    Reply
  21. Loon
    May 10, 2007 at 9:11 pm (10 years ago)

    You sound like a wonderful mother to me, and I just stumbled across your blog today!

    Reply
  22. Donna/Nesting Momma
    May 11, 2007 at 1:33 am (10 years ago)

    cleaning Oatmeal out of the carpet today…because I let me 2 toddlers watch tv and eat in their highchairs/tv trays. Yes my 4 year old still wants to sit in a high chair…she can do it until she’s 18 as far as I care. She stays in 1 place for at least 20 min. I clean the house now and again because I do have my limites.. Welcome to the no-longer perfect mom club…..I love the book
    ” I was a perfect mom until I had kids.” Sorry ,You’re not the only mom that’s not perfect. I’m not perfect too, so there!

    Reply
  23. moodswingingmommy
    May 11, 2007 at 6:45 am (10 years ago)

    Three cheers from another Not-So-Perfect Mom who is (mostly) proud to be one.

    Reply
  24. a happier girl
    May 11, 2007 at 12:43 pm (10 years ago)

    Doing the best you can is good enough. My three year old recognizes Wendy’s when we drive by. She points and tells me she wants to go get nuggets. I’m okay with it. Parents should go easier on each other. Being a parent is a hard enough job with other people telling you how much you suck.

    Reply
  25. JayMonster
    May 11, 2007 at 1:17 pm (10 years ago)

    Alright, this is my Sunday Post, but I am going to leak a bit here.

    You are so wrong when you say you are not a perfect Mom (in my not so humble opinion), because based on my definition, a perfect mother is the one that always does what she believes is best for her children.

    That’s it.

    If you are doing something else, (even if it is because somebody “says you should”) THEN you are not a perfect mom.

    Reply
  26. Deborah
    May 11, 2007 at 2:54 pm (10 years ago)

    Ok my kid is only 3 and there are not many McDonalds in Ireland… in fact the closest one is an hour away and she can smell those golden arches miles away. Your post is probably the eptitome of most Moms out there whether they care to admit it or not. Bottom line ask your kids if your a good Mommy. Unless they’re pre-teens or beyond they will overwhelmingly respond yes, and THAT is all that matters!!!

    Reply
  27. Working Mom
    May 11, 2007 at 3:17 pm (10 years ago)

    Great Post!!!! I am a working mom with a 9 year old, severely ADHD little boy and a precocious, health challenged 3 year old little girl. My husband works nights, so most days I feel like a single working mom.

    We live in an area of largely pretentious stay at home moms, or the highly successful, have a nanny, working moms. You would be amazed at the number of dirty looks I get when my son can’t be at every cub scout event, sporting event, or after-school/weekend school event because there just aren’t enough hours in the day and I am only 1 person.

    It’s a good day if the kids are feed, bathed and home work is done before 9, much less the house cleaned or spending 2 hours at a 3rd graders activity 3-4 times a week. I have spent too much time trying to be that “perfect” mom. When I finally figured out that I really couldn’t do everything myself, my kids got happier.

    My house may not be spotless; we do not participate in as many activities as the kids would like, and they eat out at least once a week, but they are happy and so are my husband and I.

    Reply
  28. slackermommy
    May 11, 2007 at 10:39 pm (10 years ago)

    Amen sista! I could have written this. You are not alone. Those perfect mommies drive me insane!

    Reply
  29. Polliwog
    May 12, 2007 at 1:49 am (10 years ago)

    I loved this.

    I’m too tired to be a good anything anymore. Good mom, good wife, good person. I just wish I could be bad for awhile and have it be OK.

    🙂

    Reply
  30. Kara
    May 12, 2007 at 10:12 am (10 years ago)

    Great post and AMEN!

    Reply
  31. subarctic mama
    May 12, 2007 at 1:48 pm (10 years ago)

    I’m with you. The mommy-judging all around us is too much. Sometimes I want to be a recluse on playgroup day. Thanks for writing this.

    Reply
  32. Linda
    May 12, 2007 at 7:12 pm (10 years ago)

    I am gonna give a big ol’ AMEN to this post!

    Reply
  33. Cate
    May 13, 2007 at 11:54 pm (10 years ago)

    Good for you, Real Mom! As one real mom to another, I applaud you!

    Reply
  34. Carlos
    May 14, 2007 at 6:59 am (10 years ago)

    I’m with you on all points. And I hope I can hitch my tired 2-boys-under-2 wagon to your Real-parent-train. Please.

    Thanks for saying it out loud 🙂

    Reply
  35. kristi
    May 14, 2007 at 2:28 pm (10 years ago)

    THANK YOU. My son has a hard time in the mornings. We are getting him tested for autism and other behavior related/speech delay disorders. If he wants to take sugary cereal for breakfast, I have no problem sending it. I am just doing the best I can.

    Reply
  36. insane
    January 1, 2008 at 5:54 pm (9 years ago)

    its hard to be young and know that your parents have total control over you. it feels like drowning, and not getting saved until you are 18. it hurts, and whats worst is that parents act like they don’t care that it hurts. in an argument with my parents, i can be completely right and they know it but still they get what they want beacuse they can say “no” no matter how good the argument is. and what can i say? i can’t say no to them, and no matter what i get accused of having an attitude. try to understand your childs point of view and maybe express yours a little better ?

    Reply
  37. snowshoe
    January 1, 2008 at 11:09 pm (9 years ago)

    Okay, I am reading all of your posts because I am really stressed out and looking to cut back on the stress. I am a stay at home mother of 4 – 11, 8, 4, and 2 years. My older 2 boys are homeschooled and so yes, we are all home all the time. My younger 3 children are adopted and all 3 have alcohol damage. The youngest 2 drug damage as well. The 3 have sensory issues (meaning they are extremely easily overwhelmed and fall to rages and meltdowns). We have been told it is very likely the youngest 3 all have some degree of autism. The 4 year old is the most extreme in this regard and most others. The 2 year old has strong health issues (seizures and regression beginning with a cold last fall) And on top of it all, they have a whole list of food sensitivities (including an extreme behavioural reaction to the tiniest amounts of sugar, food dyes, preservatives, additives, sugar replacements, honey – and the youngest also has allergies/intollerances to dairy, wheat, corn, seeds, nuts, citrus, and much more.) How do you do it? How do you calm down and accept that the ‘perfect parent’ is not achievable when your children react severely to the smallest change in routine (can cause nearly a week of rages) or the tiniest hint of sugar in a seasoning (causes 24-48 hours of strong tears, defiance, and destruction). How do I let it go when such chaos follows? How do I let people help when even my husband can’t ‘get it’ and adds pepper seasoning with sugar to the chicken so my children can’t eat it? (and believe me, he ‘gets it’ much more than anyone besides me because he has to live it too – but then he goes to work and doesn’t even see all the destruction caused by something so miniscule.)

    Okay, so after venting, you see that I am not the perfect parent – but the one others would look to and say, ‘see, she has it all together. Homeschooling children, adopted a sibling group of 3 special needs kids, stay at home parent, feeding her children all the healthy stuff…’ but you see, we don’t go to McDonald’s only because there are too many risk factors (I also have a severe egg allergy requiring an epi-pen, and a dairy protein intollerance) and my kids eat healthy because the other option is just too frightening, and my kids are homeschooled because the schools can’t teach them (11 yo is highly gifted, but also strong willed and doesn’t like other children unless they are gifted too. 8 yo can’t learn in a group. Intelligence is borderline one on one, but almost non-existant when you add a few kids to the mix. 4yo is severely overwhelmed in a group situation to the point of raging – she can’t filter out even the smallest noise or movement. She will be homeschooled, too, because she would be a nightmare to the school system and would never last an hour in the classroom (even according to multiple specialists who have been assessing her.) And 2yo will probably follow along due to health issues and MRI showing she is likely to be severely learning disabled.

    And another stressor that most parents never have to deal with, in late summer, we were told that our children had a baby brother and we were first choice to adopt him. DH said we couldn’t do it, and so add telling my kids we had to decide to cause another loss for them as one of my stressors (they already have an older brother 8yo is upset we couldn’t adopt, and their birth parents who couldn’t raise them. This is something we technically could have done and decided against – there was no option on our part with their other losses.)

    Oh well, just my vent as I search this vast internet for stress reducers. Sorry my post was so long.

    Reply
  38. Babyamore (Trish)
    January 28, 2008 at 5:24 am (9 years ago)

    I like this … I breastfeed twins – one who doesn’t any vegies or get calcium except from me and chocolate. I needed to read this I am so not a perfect parent and it feels good and it’s incredibly liberating to know that everyone else isn’t perfect and doesn’t have it all together. thanks.

    Reply
  39. Karly Pitman
    March 18, 2008 at 5:29 pm (9 years ago)

    Yes, yes, yes, yes! It feels so good to be real, to hear another mom say she’s tired of the Mommy wars, the perfect parenting, the pressure to be superMom. Letting go of my inner perfectionist has been a challenge for me, too, and one that has taken me some time, but the rewards are huge.

    To anyone who wants help in letting go of their SuperMom tendencies, I strongly recomment Ann Dunnewold’s fantastic book, Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box. She offers many tips on relaxing your impossible parenting standards ,as well as explanations on how our parenting culture got to be so perfectionistic in the firstplace.

    Reply
  40. Amy Bloch
    May 15, 2008 at 1:27 pm (9 years ago)

    I love this post. I have struggled with the anxiety of being the perfect mom for four years. It has sent me to a counselor because I can’t handle the stress of competing with other moms etc. I have a real problem with making sure to get all the professional photos taken at all the right milestones and have felt pressured to spend tons of money. It has upset the relationship between me and my husband and my son gets sick of getting it done. I am expecting twins now and trying to stay as relaxed as possible and only worry about what absolutely needs to b done. It is hard to give up that control and I feel like if I don’t make the brownies for pre-school that I am just not a good mother and not doing enough. How do I stop being so hard on myself and just enjoy being a mom instead of getting up everyday and worrying about being a mom? Any thoughts

    Reply
  41. April
    June 2, 2008 at 6:24 pm (9 years ago)

    Thank you! I JUST got off the phone with my husband having a breakdown. My husband and I were trying to figure out what was wrong and I just realized what is causing me such much stress…I am trying to be this perfect mother. It seems like it comes so easy to some people, but I am just not grasping all of this. Yes, I breastfeed; yes, my baby eats organic foods; yes, she is on the waiting lists for all the great pre-K programs. At the same time, I sometimes allow her to watch tv (oh my gosh…I can’t believe I just admitted that). It just seems like I have entered a world where all the mothers are competing with each other. It is just too much. Everyone has an opinion of what you should do. Sometimes I just want to tell people shut up! Thank you for writing this because I finally feel PERFECTLY NORMAL!

    Reply
  42. Alicia
    December 21, 2008 at 7:14 pm (8 years ago)

    I love your honesty! Oh, I can so remember when I lived close to my sister, who had her baby a month before my last son was born. The pressure… she could always find something to bitch about. I hate to say it, but I’m relieved I now live about four hours from her! I am definitely far from the “perfect parent”… about the only vegetable I can get my youngest son to eat is green beans… so we have them a lot! lol My kids could live on Ramen Noodles, ravioli and mac and cheese if I would let them. They watch too much tv and play too many video games… but ya know what? My kids know how much I love them! They are not lacking for food, clothes or other necessities, and they are definitely not lacking in love. I treat them with respect, and they treat me with respect and love in return. When my first three were little (they were stair step, and my youngest came about five years later, as a surprise), I so stressed myself about being that perfect Mom. They could not watch tv, because I was so afraid they would see something inappropriate. They had a collection of a hundred video tapes that I knew were good for kids. The house was always spotless, dinner was always a feast, but I was wiped out. I have worked hard to learn to “allow” myself to not be so perfect, and it is nice, because it gives me more time for playing with the kids, hugging them, having them help me with dinner, and those times when they just want to gab for two hours about something, and just really need Mama to listen. It’s worth it to me to let some of that, so called, perfection go, as it’s so much more rewarding for me AND the kids!

    Reply

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