Embrace Imperfection / by Kate Brightbill

When I think of childhood, I think of a clean home, a table set and dinner made every night at 5:30pm, a backyard that was incredible for playing for hours, homemade cookies in my lunch bag, and bedtime stories with my mom, who also managed to be beautiful every day. My image of my mom is as super-woman. 

When I say to my mom that she always had the house clean, she remembers differently. When I mention her I wish I could make every-night-healthy dinners like she did, she reminds me of the ones that were hardly healthy. When I tell her our home was the best, she recalls that our home was under construction for a number of years.  

We are too hard on ourselves. I think most mothers are. I have this saying for my husband that "it's either I look good or the house looks good," but I so desperately want to have both be true when he comes home from work... my own expectations, not his for me. 

As a stay-at-home mom, I feel the need to have my children fed, clean, educated at some point each day, getting outside, playing with me and independently, happy always, learning to be perfect little citizens of the world. I expect my closets to be clean and my home to be tidied. I expect to look nice and presentable at all hours of my days.

Expectations are just as high for those friends of mine who are working moms. They want to have their work shine in the workplace, and then get home and have home-cooked meals and clean homes, while managing to also get quality time with their babies. It's the same, though different.

I got sick this weekend. I couldn't fulfill any of the things I'm accustomed to accomplishing on a weekend. I couldn't catch up on my laundry, or cook, or get to the store for essentials, and I definitely couldn't manage to look anything but exhausted. I had felt like I was in a groove of capability through the week, and it came to a standstill. I was stuck in the bed, sleeping while my husband took care of everything. It felt awful and wonderful all at once. 

I read a book. I didn't "do" anything else. I thought a lot and rested a lot. I wanted to write about a million posts about who-knows-what while I was thinking, but I didn't write either. I just rested.  

Sometimes I think we are given seemingly imperfect circumstances- like sickness on a weekend- to let us recognize that we cannot do everything and we can be okay with that. Mothers work our hardest but we need to be okay with being still. With resting. With introspection and quiet prayer. It can be more important even than having perfect homes and perfect work and perfect children.

I'm starting this week far from perfect. Physically and at home. I actually start every week far from perfect, but it generally isn't quite so glaring. ;) Today I'm going to take it easy and read a lot of books to my children. My meals will not be fancy, my home is epic messy, and I'll probably take a nap. I will continue striving to do my best as a mother, and I will continue to be imperfect.

I'm okay with it. I welcome it.