How to Be the Perfect Parent. No, Really.
We’ve heard it (or said it) all before; “I’m not a perfect parent”. “I suck at this”. “I have no idea what I’m doing”. “I’m screwing them up for sure”. But, are we? I mean, maybe?
Show of hands, please: How many moms out there have done all the grocery shopping and the kids ate cereal for dinner? Or used up all that energy just shopping at Costco, and then the aforementioned dinner instead consisted of a $1.50 Polish dog?
My other favorite is hearing “we have no food” the minute I walk in the door with an armload of bags. We don’t have food? No, see, we have these things called "ingredients," and if you combine two or more they magically turn into this "food" stuff you speak of! At least I think that’s how it works.
Though as I type this I’ve got herbed chicken roasting in the oven, organic quinoa fluffing in my beloved InstaPot, gluten-free gravy bubbling on the stove. I mean, I’m one damn Instagram filter away from looking like I’ve got my shit together. I’m totally rockin’ this mom thing, amirite?
But what can’t you see, besides the Taco Bell they had for lunch (the evidence of which is still on the dining room table)? The chicken is dry, my gravy is too thick, I spilled gluten-free flour all over the counter, and something unknown is smoking on the burner. It may or may not be gluten-free flour…
But seriously, how hard is it to wipe down after you spill on or under the freaking burner?! It’s not, though I could see how you forget. I forget things sometimes. Oh, damn it, I forgot to sauté the spinach!
Ok, where was I? Oh, right. Instagram fabulous. For every mom out there trying to make something semi-healthy-yet-equally-delicious for dinner, there’s a child making faces of disgust like you’re poisoning them via broccoli. For every photo of a child doing something cute there are 15 more of them being a turd the second you said “Oh I want a picture!”. For every mom that had to relocate the unopened mail and the knocked over laundry pile to another room because someone said they were stopping by I have words for you.
Are you listening?
Hey! You! Mom over there sneaking the last cookie. I’m talking to you. Come closer. Sure, refill the wine first, I’ll wait. Now, really listen to me:
You are perfect.
I see you on Facebook. No, not the photos of the immaculate house (even though, let’s be real, you totally shoved something out of the way to get that shot). I’m talking about that kid. The one who’s got the cheesy (albeit a bit bloody) grin after losing the first tooth. After tears and screaming (probably on your end) to just get the damn thing out. The one who’s covered head to toe in mud because soccer championships are always during the worst possible weather. The one whose mom has been accused of oversharing photos despite appropriately using the #sorrynotsorry hashtag. Yup, I see that kid.
You know who else I see? A loud mom excited about that first goal, even though other moms are glaring at you. A tired, puffy-faced mom with a NICU baby just hanging on and celebrating the bittersweet victory of finally hitting 2 lbs. A stressed mom who wants to know what the absolute best school in the new area is. Because moving to a new area isn’t already stressful enough. I see you.
That mom is you. That mom is me. Those are our kids, who are all kinds of happy even though our house is a mess. Do they care if mom put on mascara or touched up those grays? Nope. Not one damn is given. But we put on that just-loose-enough ‘swim mom’ T-shirt with yesterday’s slightly stained yoga pants, throw those greasy grays in a ponytail, and cheer the loudest. That’s what matters to a child. Even when they roll their eyes at us.
Do you remember that movie The Fifth Element? If you haven’t seen it I’m not sure we can be friends. But that’s neither here nor there. I had a point.
Oh, right. The fifth element in this world. We have earth and fire. We have wind and water. The fifth one is equally important: it’s love. I mean, all those old dudes can’t be totally wrong, right? Love is a many-splendored thing. All you need is love. Love lifts us up where we belong!
If you love your child, you show it, and they know it, you are a perfect parent.
Stop it! I know you just muttered something about end of school year lunches consisting of a week old apple and a soon to be expired Lunchable. It could be worse, you could be the mom who filled her flask with juice. Not that I’m judging. Or you still have to go in for a follow up of little Johnny’s "glowing" mid-semester conference. Every kid has that moment. But what I’m not joking about? Love. Love makes you perfect.
Love those babies. Love the ones you have because let me tell you, they’re here to stay. Love the ones you’ve lost because, like Dr Seuss said, “a person’s a person, no matter how small”. Love the ones that chose you to be their mom. Love the ones you heard about when you got the life-changing phone call to go pick them up. Because there is no more perfect mom for them than you.
Danielle Trapp is a mother of five living in Oregon. She cheers the loudest for her kids, even when they drive her to drink. She also owns a completely natural skincare line called Halisi that you should totally check out. You can find out more about it here.