Although this will likely not surprise you, I have a confession to make: I am not June Cleaver.
I am also not Mama Berenstain Bear. Nor any other paragon of motherhood heralded before me in the media.
I cannot explain why this realization was so shocking to me, but it hit me yesterday like a ton of bricks – I’m not a perfect mother and I don’t even portray an image of a perfect mother. I don’t always have the right words to sum up the moral lesson, I lose my temper, sometimes I argue with their father, I hate doing laundry and the corners of our shower are a little frightening to behold.
I’m not perfect. Nowhere close. No paragon of virtue present in this household.
For a long time I’ve tried my best to match up to the examples set by the maternal influences in my life whether my mother, mother-in-law, sister, friend, etc., or the women I see in movies or on television, or brought to life via words from the imagination of authors of books. I’ve read books, scoured the internet for blog posts, and solicited parenting feedback from friends near and far.
The ultimate diagnosis? I’m not perfect. I will never be perfect.
But that doesn’t make me hopeless. That’s the next step in this line of thinking – that lack of perfection doesn’t equal failure as a parent.
Yesterday wasn’t a special day and I’m sure this is an understanding I will have to acknowledge again and again, but saying the words, “I am not June Cleaver” lifted the monkey of perfection from my back for a bit of time. Here’s what I can claim as real instead of perfection (and maybe you can claim it, too):
- I am a capable woman who is sometimes overwhelmed by the tirade of emotion coming from children over whether they get a piece of gum.
- I am a logical human being who realizes sometimes getting a few hours of sleep is more important than having the floors mopped or socks matched.
- I am a caring person who invests in those around her and occasionally that means arguments and temper tantrums – because the opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy.
- I am courageous and up to the challenge of parenting because I choose to be present in these children’s lives and live authentically with them.
Oh, how I wish it didn’t take me writing these things down to try to remember them in my most critical moments! But I don’t have to be June Cleaver (and neither do you). I can be me.
Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to model yourself after someone else, or an image that seems too good to be true. Just be you. Do your best every day to be true to your values and then… relax.
Be the best version of yourself, no one else. It’s enough. Rebuke the pressure.
What truth statements do you need to write down so you will remember them in your critical moments?