I want to meet the most perfect child in existence. The child who came out of the womb sleeping and eating famously. The child who never, ever fussed. The child who spoke early, walked early, potty-trained in a day with no accidents. The child who began speaking as if he/she was a fancy-mannered Downton Abbey character with one part intelligent banter and two parts humble, witty humor. The child who will undoubtedly grow up to be a model student, employee, and overall delightful citizen.
The perfect child.
I really want to meet that kid. Or, more importantly, I want to meet the parents of this kid and get in their mind and take a stroll around whilst stealing their secrets on how they raised a flawless human. And since I’m already stealing stuff while I’m there, maybe I’ll just steal their identity and pretend I was the perfect parent all along …
But, alas, I will never meet said perfect child. Nor will I ever meet his/her parents. Because … newsflash! … they don’t exist.
I got a lesson in this just a couple of weeks ago. You might have noticed a few pages back that the entirely lovely folks here at 605 Magazine came to our house to photograph and talk to us about our home. On the particular day they were scheduled to come over, I wanted the house to be “perfect”. So, I did what any self-respecting mom would do; I hid dirty laundry in the closet. I stuffed toys in cabinets to be found again on a rainy day. I cleaned food smears off of the window. I organized. Heck, I even showered. But the one thing I forgot to prepare for was a toddler behavioral meltdown.
You see, my daughter chose this day to display the “Terrible Twos” in the flesh. She refused to talk to anyone, heaved herself onto the floor, threw food across the room, refused to smile for pictures, even refused a cookie and a lollipop (terrible bribing on my part) and was just an overall hostile hostess. When the visit was over and the 605 staff departed, I just had to laugh as I imagined the conversation they might have walking away from our house, “Um … We let the mother of that child write the parenting column for 605 Magazine??”
The good news is, I haven’t been fired … yet.
But as I rehashed the event over with my husband, he gently reminded me that a tantrum by a two-year-old does not make me a bad mother or him a bad father. It merely makes our daughter, and us, human. “Show me a toddler that doesn’t have a tantrum once in awhile,” he wisely chided.
So, that’s when I realized I was not only trapped in a winter polar vortex, but a perfect vortex.
Why do so many of us parents (myself included here) subconsciously compare ourselves and our children to fictitious, unblemished humans? At times, we think and act as if our children should behave supremely and if and when they don’t, we feel as if we are blowing it big time as parents. And sometimes, let’s face it, we are blowing it and we need to step up our game. But other times, most of the time, I think the perfection standard trips us up more than it should.
Perhaps it stems from our own culture’s obsession with all things perfect: The perfect house. The perfect body. The perfect couple. The perfect marriage. The perfect pregnancy. The perfect meal. The perfect vacation. The perfect book. The perfect child. The perfect life. We are bombarded with messages of perfection and how we need it, how we get it, and how to keep it.
I personally blame Pinterest.
But all jokes aside, the message we get is: Perfection is king and we have a huge #FAIL after our name if we don’t have it in every area of life. But as I’m learning, the problem with this mentality is that perfection is simply unattainable. In fact, it doesn’t exist. Especially, when it comes to our journey as parents and our children. So, we can simply be our best and do our best for our children and leave the notion of being “perfect” out in the cold polar vortex.