Updated: Aug 15
With social media today, it is almost impossible not to stumble across the “perfect parent” profile. You can't help but envy their family photos, everyone with giant smiles on their faces, while showing off their most recent family adventure. These moms who provide their families with these all organic, gluten free meals that they slaved over all day, and made from only the finest ingredients that they had grown in their backyards. It's even more impossible to wonder why you can't be that perfect parent. You can't help but feel like a failure when you pull into the Mcdonalds drive through to pick up dinner because you know that you are so mentally drained from the day, that going home and cooking anything more than a frozen pizza was just not going to happen.
I have caught myself thinking “If I can just pull through this depression, anxiety (or whatever mental health issue was taking over my body that day), then I could be a better parent, then I could have the energy to be excited about making my child the perfect dinner, or that we could hike freaking Mt Everest together, if I could just get out of bed. If I could just be NORMAL, I could be a better parent.
But let's be honest about a few things. One… your child won't remember, and honestly doesn't want that Kale and Salmon dinner you wish so badly you could master one night for dinner. It will end up in the trash, and, at least with my son, they will be digging through the fridge looking for anything covered in cheese and bacon within an hour. And two…. Those “perfect parents” you see on your Instagram feed… they just aren't real. I promise you, they too have struggled with insecurities, depression & family fights. Pictures can lie. You may see a picture night after night of a family sitting down to their large home cooked meals. But what you MIGHT not see, is that that is the only time they have together. You might see that once dinner is over, the family disperses to their rooms and don't reunite until the next night's dinner. One picture of smiles, does not mean “happy.”
Stop comparing. Comparing yourself to the perfect insta mom is no different than comparing your body to a Kardashian. It's not real. And it's depressing as hell. We all have moments where we might snap at our child when they ask us the same question 30 times in a row. We all have moments when we feel like we are failing at being the ideal provider. We all have days where we walk into the kitchen to see a pile of dirty dishes from last night's dinner, just to mumble “no way in hell” and immediately walk out.
My child will not remember the insane amount of time and effort I put into having the perfect home, the perfect meals nor the perfect outfits. You know what he will remember? The pizza party nights we have on Fridays, where I allow him to curl up on the couch with me and maybe over indulge in his favorite dinner & favorite cartoon. He will remember the after dinner board games we play, because I didn't have to spend the whole evening not only cooking, but cleaning up the aftermath. The nights where we shove the clean and needed to be folded pile of clothes into a corner so we have room to turn the living room into a blanket fort for movie night. He will remember the “lunchable” picnics at the park. He will remember having his mom around to drop whatever for a quick game of Old Maid or Go Fish, instead of having a mom too preoccupied with making sure every dirty dish is put away before bedtime. Yup, my house is almost always guaranteed to be a mess, but I am okay with that, because I would much rather spend any free time making real memories, not just a happy second for a quick Instagram photo.
You're children want your time and attention more than they want a toilet so clean, they could lick it. And as long as they are getting that, then mama, I promise you are doing a good job.