We’ve all seen the TV shows: sitcoms like Leave it to Beaver, that portrayed the perfect family as a husband, a wife, 2.5 kids, a dog and a sprawling house with a perfect lawn and a white picket fence. Sounds lovely, right?
Family dynamics have come a long way since June and Ward Cleaver. Today, we have single parent homes, blended family homes, multi-family homes, homes with stay-at-home-moms, homes with stay-at-home-dads, homes where both parents work… the list goes on and on.
The problem is, no matter which category you fall into, you will always be met with criticism.
You see, everyone is a parenting expert these days, especially those without children. That is why it is so hard to feel adequate as a parent. I too, was a perfect parent until I had children of my own.
If you are a woman and you work full-time, you are ignoring your role as a mother. If you are a stay-at-home-mom and your husband works full-time, you are lazy and don’t contribute. If your husband stays home with the kids, he is whipped. If he works too much, he is a workaholic. If you are the perfect “Pinterest parent” who does crafts with your kids and makes from-scratch meals three times a day, you are trying too hard. If you toss your kid a pop-tart as he is getting on the bus, you aren’t trying hard enough. If you are a single mom, you are depriving your kids of a father. If you have been married more than once, you are a, well.. you know. If you have a glass of wine at night to wind down, you are a lush. If you don’t do anything to wind down, you’re uptight. If your kids watch too much TV, their brains will turn to mush. If you don’t let them watch enough TV, they will grow up to be uncultured. No matter which way you turn, someone is waiting to tell you what you are doing wrong.
We all have those girlfriends who are always sharing photos of their picture perfect lives and houses right out of a magazine. They cook, they bake, they go to yoga. Their children are always in matching outfits and somehow never get anything messy.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Those women are not real.
For every perfect family photo, that mom had to bribe her children. For every matching outfit, there are three more laying on the bedroom floor because the tag was itchy or the tights were too tight. For every spotless house, there is a cleaning lady behind the scenes or a mom who goes without sleep at night to keep it that way. For every perfect, homecooked meal you see on Instagram, there were three nights that week they went to McDonald’s.
Instagram has a funny way of making people look perfect. It’s a filter. Don’t fall for it. You are doing just as good of a job as they are, they just know how to spin it and put a pretty bow on it. Embrace your messy house, your take out dinners, your kid’s mismatched outfits. I promise you no one grows up and says, “Man, my mom was great, but I wish the throw pillows on our couch had been a little more coordinated.” Cut yourself some slack, momma. You are doing a great job! Some days your best will be Mickey Mouse pancakes, perfect family photos and matching outfits. Some days your best will be just getting out of bed and getting your kids fed that day. Your kids will remember the time you spend with them, not the time you spent organizing the sock drawer.
So many of us burn ourselves out trying to be the “perfect mom”. There is no such thing. So put on your sweatpants, pour a glass of wine, let your kids have pizza for dinner, and turn on the TV if that’s what your mental health needs today. I promise, they will be ok.