Kate's Plate

Let them see you cry.

The opportunity cost of perfection in motherhood, and why vulnerability is a better path to growth.

“I yelled at them today.” I tell my husband with a disheartened tone. “I really didn’t want to, but just felt too cornered and it just happened. We went over again and again how they won’t be getting to go to their friends house because they haven’t yet done their chores and that leaves us with not enough time. I said it in such a kind and loving tone at first, but they just kept pestering and wouldn’t stop. I ended up yelling and I hate that I did that.”

This is a common scenario for mothers in the trenches everywhere.

Motherhood in the trenches, it’s not for the faint of heart. It draws out our insecurities, our vulnerabilities, our flaws. It drains our physical bodies, taps our mental reserve, and leaves us with the worst of ourselves. It’s in those tapped out moments, we show up in ways that can only be described as frazzled, desperate, irreverent.

Motherhood doesn’t allow us to show up as our best selves. Or does it? What does best-self even mean…

We’d love to be the well-rested, well-fed, well-socialized, well-showered, well-dressed and well-minded selves that we know we CAN be, more often. That would be so nice, wouldn’t it? The mother you “aspire to be.” The one who’s got it all together and is always one step ahead of the game. The one who’s got the right words and the right tone.

However, perfection in motherhood is a trap.

It is a trap into believing that is what they need to thrive.

I believe that perfectionism is detrimental to having a great connection to your kids. 

The truth is that we, the parents, are growing up alongside our children, in a different phase-yes, but very much still growing and maturing. You may have had children very young, while others waited until later 30’s or beyond. But even then, we are still just babies. Baby adults, if you will, and we have so much growth yet to do.

There are gorgeous moments when we aren’t our best selves, but we aren’t yet tapped of all humanity, that are beautiful and raw and real. They are not perfect, but they are juicy moments of vulnerability which are so tangible and honest. They are signals of your own personal growth. It is imperative to have our children witness some of these vulnerable moments of growth. 

  • The moment after a blow up, when everyone is calm and we genuinely apologize, with specificity, for our poor choice of words.
  • The moment when we share something personal that happened to us with a pre-teen who can start to relate.
  • The moment when we are tearful over something unrelated, and our child pauses to notice our face. We can choose to explain why we are sad, and give them a change to try out having empathy.
  • The moment we are frustrated with them, and they witnesses us take a deep breath to calm down and try again.
  • The moment we burn our dinner and laugh and eat a random side dish instead. They witness you being flexible in life.

Kids are sponges, and soak up our humanness and connect it to theirs. There are so many human moments in motherhood and thank goodness our children get to bear witness to them.

As much as I strive to be the best mother I can, when I reflect on my own childhood, the imperfect moments of my parents stand out the most. I know they did the best they could, had wonderful intentions (still do!), that they loved me so much, but that they were figuring it out on the way just as much as I was. They treated siblings differently, yelled at times, picked us up late, burned dinner, let curse words slip, didn’t say the right things, gave us advice when we didn’t want it, and also gave us space when we didn’t want it either. But it helped me grow by seeing them be imperfect, individual humans.

Your vulnerability is a strength in motherhood. It connects your child’s imperfect growth to yours. As long as we give grace to kids and ourselves alike, we all thrive.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to the stunningly imperfect and gorgeously human moms. We love you!

 

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