I’m turning 40 next month. And, while that in and of itself seems both like a huge deal, and not really a big deal, I do think that I’ve reached a milestone that is even more important in my life.
I’ve learned to embrace real instead of seeking perfection.
I’ve learned that it’s OK to speak my truth, even if it makes other people feel uncomfortable, and I’ve learned that people often think of me way less than I think they are thinking of me.
Recently, I shared a blog post about something I really struggle with as a mom. It wasn’t hard for me to write though. I felt confident that it needed to be said, and I shared it unabashedly. The result was an outpouring of emails from women thanking me for being brave enough to admit something hard.
It made me realize that there is freedom in being real, and owning our own story. There is liberation in speaking our truth. There is happiness in letting go of what others think about us, and embracing our imperfections.
I’d argue that being real, and letting go of trying to keep up a facade or a persona that other people expect is one of the best parts of growing up. If not THE best.
Some people reach this realization a lot sooner than 40 years old. I don’t think there is a magic age where all of a sudden you learn to let go of your own expectations of yourself, and the expectations others have of you. I think it’s a gradual process, until one day, you think to yourself, I really don’t care what kind of mother I thought I should be as a 20-something newlywed. I am who I am, and I need to love myself.
Or, I don’t care if admitting that I take anxiety medication makes someone else feel uncomfortable. I don’t want friends that expect me to be something I’m not. I want real ones.
For me though, the biggest part of accepting real and rejecting perfection is how it affects my mothering. I don’t feel guilt as often as I used to. My kids have watched approximately eleventy billion hours of TV so far this summer for example, and I do not care. In fact, I might even brag about it.
It’s not that I don’t care if their brains turn to mush. It’s more about not caring if we have to do things like watch a lot of TV to get through a stomach bug that’s been in our house for two weeks, or survive an afternoon when we’re all cranky and tired from staying up too late the night before.
Being real as a mother, is the best thing I can do for myself. And, that means that I start to wholly accept my flaws. I start to wholly accept that I’m allowed to make mistakes just as my children are allowed to. It means that I wholly accept that I’m a human being that needs personal space at the end of a long day, and deserves to kick her kids out of the house to go find their own entertainment.
It’s quite possibly the best thing I can do for my kids, too. All mothers need to grow up. I believe now that the key to happiness is authenticity in our parenting, and in all aspects of our lives. And, the best thing about finally growing up, is learning that it really is OK to just be real. And, forgive ourselves as much as possible.