We all know, intellectually, that perfection is impossible. Even if it were possible, we’d literally have a 1 in several billion chance of being that person. Those are lottery-winning odds, and frankly, that actually seems like a better use of that type of luck. Kids don't need perfect parents to have a great life. Still, even though we know it’s impossible, there are people out there who appear to be meeting this impossible standard. Then something happens that pierces the façade. and certain moments remind us that there's no such thing as a “perfect mom.” Yes, it's almost always a huge relief.
Seemingly perfect moms loom large in our minds, whether they're just in our memory; like when we get nostalgic about our own moms during our childhoods, or in person; like the a mom we see a lot at school or camp, or even just people we see in passing as we run errands or hang out in public spaces. Often, and without realizing it, we make them the standard we're trying to live up to, even though they can’t possibly be as perfect as we’re building them up to be in our heads. And then, when we quite predictably don’t measure up to that imaginary standard, we feel ashamed (which is silly when we stop to consider that we had literally no chance of success).
Thankfully, the universe gives us lots of little reminders that the “perfect mom” is an illusion, so we can keep learning to be grateful for being the Pretty Damn Good™ moms we actually are.
When You Post The Perfect Instagram Photo On An Otherwise Crappy Day
When you somehow pull off the Herculean task of salvaging a day that has gone completely off the rails, and manage to post a fantastic photo of your kid/family, you start to question everything. “If we all look this amazing despite this being the only minute of the day when everyone was simultaneously dressed, and appeared clean without crying/yelling/arguing, how many other photos that I see rose from the ashes of a totally sh*t day?”
When You See This Photo Of Kate Middleton
This is easily among my favorite celebrity photos of all time. Here is a woman who lives in an actual castle. She came from a wealthy family already, and then married actual royalty. She has a full staff of people to help her do everything, and she doesn't have what many would consider to be a "real job." Yet, with all of the advantages in the world, she still has moments where her kids make her so nuts that her vein is popping out of her neck like a beast (or a boss, because I can't decide). If even she can't manage perfection, no one can.
When You Reexamine Your Own Childhood Through Your Grown Woman Lenses
I crack up laughing when I think about all of the things I saw, watched, ate, and experienced that would be horribly frowned upon by contemporary parenting standards (as well as a few things that were legitimately not OK, in a bigger sense). Yet, at the time, my mom seemed to have it totally together. She seemed like a perfect mom for so much of my childhood. Of course that's impossible, and it's easier to reality-check my assumptions now.
When Your Mom Tells You How Hard It Was When You Were Young
Most of us have things about our own childhoods that weren't great, and we're trying to do things differently with our own kids. However, if we're lucky, most of our childhoods were decent enough that we had at least some period of time where we assumed the adults in our lives had everything under control. So when your own mom describes how much she struggled with parenting at times, it can be really eye-opening.
When You See That Mom Losing Her Sh*t
You know that mom. She volunteers for all the things, she always looks great at drop-off and pick-up, and her kids are always well-behaved and well-dressed, too. Except that one time you dare to look a little more closely, and you start to see the cracks around the edges. Like the way her eyes don't always keep up with her smile, or how that smile disappears completely as soon as the doors to her car slam shut. Then you remember that “everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” you turn your attention back to your own business, and you resolve to be a little kinder to her (and to yourself).
When You Actually Get To Know The Other Moms Around You
Most of us aren't failing at life all the time (even if it sometimes feels like it), we all look like we have it more together when we do to folks who are just passing by.
When you actually take the time to get to know the other moms in your orbit, you realize that we all have stuff we're doing well, and we all have stuff we're not exactly proud of. Everyone's trying to find their ideal balance between nailing the stuff that matters most to them, and deciding what they can reasonably let slide.
When You Spend A Whole Day With A Mom You Admire
When you only see people at a quick event here or there, you often don't get to see all the little tricks, negotiations, compromises, and whatever else goes into making their lives run as smoothly as they appear to. But when you get to spend a whole day with a mom you really respect, and you get to see all the little not-so-perfect things she does or accepts in order to keep things moving, it's a good reminder that no one's perfect. Not even her.
When You Share A Parenting Mistake And Another Mom Says, "Me Too"
We all make mistakes, but since we see all of ours and relatively few of other people's, it can sometimes feel like we're much less competent than everyone else around us.
However, when you open up about a mistake you made or a regret you have, and another mom — especially one you respect and assume has her life totally together — says those magical words, you know that really, truly, no one is perfect, and it's totally OK.
When You Start Googling Whatever Parenting Issue You're Having
Nothing in the world makes me feel more normal (or maybe even like I might be getting a little ahead in life) like Google's search predictions. Google autocomplete is any human's best friend, because Google autocomplete doesn't judge. Google autocomplete says, "Oh, you're worried about this thing? So many other people are, too, that we're not even going to make you finish typing your question. We know. We got you."
When You Join An Online Mom Group
It's easy to think, when you're out and about and your own kid is melting down, or you're struggling with a feeling or a problem that you've never experienced before, that you're the only one. Then you join an online mom group (or 12) and you realize that all these people asking questions, giving advice, sharing #MomLife photos, and occasionally (OK, often) engaging in ridiculous arguments, are the cool and collected moms you might just as easily pass while grocery shopping, or while at story time, or anywhere else. Then you see them in a new light. Sure, they may seem put together now, but you've seen the unfolded laundry or YouTube playlists or disagreeable extended family members they put up with in order to accomplish that.
Nobody's perfect, and it's a huge relief.