One day, I took my boys to their well visit. I was sick myself. I pulled out something cute(ish) to put on, and ultimately put it back deciding to commit the ultimate act of motherhood frumpiness, and threw on my sweats instead. I called it good.
And, you know what happened next, right? I ran into someone I know. And, of course, she was dressed adorable, and had her three precious kids in tow looking equally as cute. It was an easy opportunity for me to feel like a big loser, but instead, the thought didn’t even cross my mind. I said hello, chatted for a minute, and let it go.
It was later, at the grocery store, when I was trying to wipe the blue drool off the toddler’s face from his sucker before I got him out of the car, and a young couple (with no kids) was getting in the car next to me, and were waiting for me to take care of my child business, that I stopped and thought, “I wonder what kind of Mom they think I am.” I looked down at my sweats, and kind of chuckled at that thought. To an outsider, I could definitely look like a frumpy housewife that has sticky kids (it’s inevitable) and no longer cares about herself (not true).
But, the funny thing is, while I am admittedly having an off day, I feel like I care about myself even more now. More than I ever have. Because, it’s not that I don’t care about looking nice, but it’s more about not caring about those around me looking in anymore. They don’t know my story. And, right now, it’s about taking care of me and my kids. The rest is no one else’s business. And, if that means that one day I leave my house in sweats because I have eaten toast and sprite for the last 48 hours, and now have a cold on top of that. Then so be it.
But, it’s been a process to learn to let go of the perfection complex and embrace the idea of simply doing your best you can that day. As a young mom, I felt deflated if the baby had a blowout in her cute outfit and she had to run errands with me barefoot and in a plain white onesie. Today, I feel happy if my kids have their clothes on when we leave the house.
Sure, some might think this is a form of “letting yourself go” but I don’t see it that way. I see it as a form of “letting myself be.” Letting myself have an off day if I need one. Because, I’m allowed to have an off day too, right? After all, I did just spend an entire day hanging over the toilet, like ALL humans have to do from time to time. So, why not allow myself to be human.
Letting myself take as much time as I need wiping blue sucker drool off the face of my kid might slow the young couple next to me down, but aren’t I important too?
My son’s recent birthday party is a good example. I had decided to have a low key party and have it be pancakes and pajamas themed. The kids would come over at 9 am on Saturday in their PJs and eat pancakes, and have a dance party in the basement, and then it would be over.
But, then, I started to feel like that wasn’t enough. I decided I needed to decorate, and had plans to put cute little toothpick washi tape flags in every stack of pancakes.
I even enlisted my 7 year old to help make them. I also bought some pom poms that I as going to thread, string, and hang for decoration. And, I made a cute banner that I spent too much time on. Suddenly, this party had to be pinterest worthy and hand made. Admittedly, I had lost my marbles for a minute. And, when Friday night (the night before the party rolled around) and I just plain ran out of time, I left the pom poms sitting there. Unopened.
The morning of the party? No one cared about the decorations. 4 and 5 year olds care about pancakes and fun. Not decorations.
And, I could have felt like a failure, but I didn’t. I hosted 10 kids at my house and fed them all breakfast. That is no easy task, my friends. I let myself be. Which meant, I went to bed on Friday night when I was tired instead of stringing pom poms.
So, how do you get there? HOW do you let yourself be without feeling like a failure?
Ask yourself who’s standard are you trying to meet? If it’s yours, or God’s then, that’s OK. If it’s anyone else’s, then it’s time to re-evaluate the pressure you are putting on yourself.
Be perfect in something. Sounds hard right? Maybe one mom is perfect in always looking cute when she goes out. That works for her. But, maybe your perfection is that you never yell at your kids, or you never deny them a hug, or you always read a bed-time story. You have areas in your life where you are perfect, you just need to discover them, and remind yourself of them when you start the comparison game.
Ask yourself, “would I expect this level of perfection of my kids?” If the answer is no, then it probably means no for you too. Would you expect your kids to always say yes to a friend that doesn’t treat them equally as good? Then why expect it of yourself?
Go above and beyond sometimes. The key word there is sometimes!! Don’t do it always, but do it sometimes so that you can remember those times on days when you just can’t do it all.
Take care of yourself. You definitely don’t want to forget to brush your teeth or put normal clothes on regularly. That would be letting yourself go. Take time to remember that humans need and can look pretty too. But, don’t beat yourself up if it isn’t a daily affair.
It’s a process that takes time. I’m not perfect at it either. Far from it in fact. But, on the days that I do allow myself to “be” imperfect, I find myself a little more.