As a parent, it took me a long time to warm up to the idea of letting go of perfection. When my first kid was born, I tried hard to be Supermom. My son’s clothes were color-coordinated with matching socks and a cute hat. I dutifully put him on a sleep schedule, and while he napped, I lined up the jars of baby food in the cabinet. Instead of napping myself, I used the time to pick up his toys and put them (in coordinated order, mind you) in toy bins. I never lost one half of a pair of socks because every one of them went into a mesh laundry bag and came out of the wash intact. The socks were stacked in the top drawer of the changing table–all in convenient reach to match the next outfit.
When Baby Number Two arrived, I was still pretty much on top of this motherhood stuff. Her birth threw me for a loop though, as I ended up with a second cesarean despite trying for a natural birth. We moved into a brand new house just a week after she was born. After a couple of months dealing with depression, I found help through a birth support group. Even though I was working a part-time job, I was still able to get most of the toys into the appropriate bins every now and then. Baby Number Two had matching socks with her outfits, although we occasionally lost a few here and there. Because you see, when you take your eyes off one kid, the other one strips so fast that you can’t keep track of socks anymore.
And sometimes you’re too tired to care.
Baby Number Three changed the whole parenting game. He was lucky to even have any socks on his feet at all. If the toys were scattered in just ONE room, that was considered a good day. To top it all off, my teenaged niece came to live with us. There were some days the hubby and I were split in four directions. Do the math–it doesn’t add up. The perfect family life unraveled quick. I was no longer striving for perfection–I was just desperately trying to get through each day with every kid fed, clothed, and still breathing.
As for the socks, we resorted to having a family sock basket using a laundry basket. Any socks we could capture from the dryer instantly went into this basket. It was a free-for-all dive each morning to try and come up with matching socks or ones with no holes in them. My mom, bless her heart, bravely tried to match the socks when she came to visit. It was a futile attempt, for the socks quickly ended up in the usual basket heap after she left.
A wonderful thing happened when I began to embrace this imperfect life and let go of the perfection crap. The house didn’t sparkle, but I no longer cared. It was more important to read to each kid and to teach math while making brownies.
When I screwed up as a mom, the kids forgave me. And they still loved me.
It was all okay.
Because you see, I’m now at the end of the parenting journey and my last kid will head to college in a year. I look back and realize we had a perfectly imperfect life after all. What really mattered was the memories: the summers at the lake, the games we played, the stuff we did together.
And most of all: we raised siblings that actually love each other.