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I’m Not A Perfect Mom— and You Don’t Have to Be One Either

The internet is filled with how-tos about being a perfect mom and what to do with your child so they don’t get cavities or diaper rash or die. 

But I will be one of the first to admit that I am absolutely, positively, not a perfect mom.

Sure, I worry and obsess about doing everything right. But, I’ve had to learn that there are some things that just aren’t as important as sanity and happiness.

Just the other day, I witnessed a mom being figuratively beaten over the head about how she was managing her little one. It was a constant stream of, “Don’t let him do this!” and, “Make sure you always do that” and so forth.

Quite honestly, I’m sick to death of hearing unwanted advice and judgments coming from other moms who should be helping and learning from each other. No one is perfect. We’re all trying our best to make sure our kids grow up to be healthy, happy adults. There is no one single perfect way to be a parent. There are just a lot of people trying to stay ahead of an exponentially growing mountain of laundry and incessant need for snacks.

not a perfect mom

Sometimes I put off dishes for ‘future me’ to finish up in the morning.

We are all trying to survive parenthood: from toddler tantrums to teen angst, and all that’s in between; it would be nice if we could take a break from judging each other and seeking unattainable perfection.  

That being said, here are just a few of the imperfect things I regularly do as a mom:

Some nights, I feed my family junk food.

Oh yeah, I actually plan unhealthy dinners at least once a week. We’re huge on brinner (or breakfast for dinner) and we love dessert. And on those late, late nights when mommy is out at the campus library writing a paper or studying for an exam, they even get McDonald’s… *gasp.* I’m not sorry, either. Yeah, sometimes we don’t eat healthily, some months I can’t afford to get organic or all natural groceries and we go with processed foods, and around the holidays I even let my daughter pick out her own cereal, which is inevitably sugary, chocolatey, and totally not healthy.

But you know what? The same little girl who loves getting Happy Meals and Cocoa Puffs also eats three servings of broccoli in one sitting, stuffs her face with fruit at every opportunity, and only likes a tiny bit of honey in her chamomile tea. Perfect? No. But we’ve created a good balance between nutrition, necessity, and indulgence that makes every happy (and stress-free.)

I totally gave up on breastfeeding.

Let me tell you, the first month of my daughter’s life was a living hell. For whatever reason, I just wasn’t making enough milk for her. She was so hungry all the time and I was so exhausted. I would stay up all night sobbing because she never had enough to eat. I was worn out, suffering from multiple postpartum disorders, and I just couldn’t take it. I tried everything from teas to compresses to breastfeeding groups and nothing helped. Finally, I gave myself permission to try supplementing with formula.

Ladies, it was like a magical switch had been turned on. My child went from a milk-craving lunatic to a sweet bundle of snuggles. The crying stopped. I could sleep. It was amazing. I continued to pump and breastfeed for a couple more months, but man, when that kid found out how much she could get out of a bottle, it was like, “Bye Mommy, catch ya later!”

It’s moments like this that made all the trouble worth it.

She pretty much weaned herself by the age of 4 months, which was fine by me. 

And despite that, she’s incredibly smart, well-behaved (most of the time) and growing like a weed. Even though my choice to stop breastfeeding was by some standards ‘not perfect,’ it was absolutely the right choice for the two of us.

 In perhaps one of my most controversial mom moments, I turned my daughter’s  car seat around the day she turned one. ***

When she was born, she was 23½ inches long. By 12 months, she was already over 30 inches. Every time I put her in her car seat after about 10 months, she would scream her little head off. NON STOP. Didn’t matter if we were moving, if she had a toy or a mirror or even a bottle, she would scream and kick her legs like a maniac. I was miserable. I dreaded getting in the car and almost got into at least 3 accidents because of the emotional and physical stress driving put me through.

So, I weighed the options: keep her rear-facing and probably cause an accident where people might die, or turn her around and risk her safety in a hypothetical accident. I chose sanity and silence. I swear that first car ride with her looking forward was magical. She loved it, I loved it, and we’ve never looked back since (pun intended).

{*** Please note: It is recommended by the State of Vermont and pediatricians that children stay rear facing until AT LEAST 2 years old. This recommendation is not based on the size of the child but because, “babies have heavy heads and fragile necks. If the baby is facing forward in a frontal crash (the most common and most severe type of crash), the body is held back by the straps, but the head is not. The head is thrust forward, stretching the neck… a baby’s neck bones are soft and actually separate during a crash, and the spinal cord can tear. In contrast, when a baby rides facing rearward, the whole body–head, neck, and torso–is cradled by the back of the safety seat in a frontal crash. This is true even for babies who have strong neck muscles and good head control,” Vermont Department of Health. For more information about car seat safety please check out the Be Seat Smart Website.}

Finally, I refuse to give my daughter a sibling.

I’m on some massive medication due to a mental illness that I have, so for me to get off it and get pregnant and be pregnant without my medication is terrifying to me. I could do it. I could have another child, but honestly– I have no idea what kind of parent I would be while pregnant. I don’t think the risk of harm to myself and my family (not physical, but definitely emotional) is worth it. I would rather be a great mom to one kid, than compromise two. So, I had my tubes tied, and despite multiple comments like, “You guys make such great kids!” or, “But you’re such wonderful parents!” or even, “You’re doing your daughter a disservice by not having more,” I am not having another child. I chose (yet again) sanity over perfection.

You know what, none of these issues that I just wrote about are a big deal. I’m sure thousands of mothers make the same choices, but the sad thing is that each time I made of one those decisions I was wracked with guilt and convinced myself that I was inferior and that there was something wrong with me to cause me to even consider those options. (I mean, there is something wrong with me, but it’s not because of all that…) So, put away those measuring tapes that have the “practically perfect in every way” option and start looking at each mom and each situation as unique and different.

No two solutions will ever work the same way for everyone.

If you had told me in those first few months that I needed to wear my child everywhere, I would have probably started crying because I felt the need to get away from my child to save my sanity. If someone had stopped me and yelled at me for turning her carseat around, I would have lost it.

We all tout inclusion and non-judgment, but can we honestly say we don’t judge anyone (especially ourselves)? If we can learn to accept our own imperfections, maybe we can extend that kindness to the strangers around us.

I am not a perfect mom, and I have no intention to be… 

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2 Responses to I’m Not A Perfect Mom— and You Don’t Have to Be One Either

  1. Meredith Gordon
    Meredith Gordon June 6, 2017 at 11:42 pm #

    This is so wonderful and brave Cynthia!!! We need more posts like this in the world!

    • Cynthia Buckpitt
      Cynthia Buckpitt June 7, 2017 at 9:56 am #

      Thanks Meredith!

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