Imperfect Parenting

Child with toy on head surrounded by colourful plastic balls.

When DorkySon was about six months old, we started taking him to swimming lessons, and I remember being awed by the number of mothers who showed up at the pool every week with perfectly painted toenails, immaculate bikini lines, and tummies that had returned to pre-baby muscle tone.

Jeez, I thought, where do they find the time to do that? I thought of my own days, which were still flying by in a haze of feeds and laundry and naps. Some days I found time to smear a bit of moisturiser on my cheeks, but that was about the extent of my personal grooming.

In truth though, it had little to do with the demands of DorkySon. Even before his arrival, when I had oodles of spare time, I didn’t have pedicures. I had never been the kind of person who could organise her life to the extent where it felt like I ‘had it all’. Something always had to slip.

I had been an Imperfect Student (spending too much time on the union elections and not enough time on my dissertation), an Imperfect Green (overly fond of my tumble dryer and short haul flights), and an Imperfect Wife (crap at cooking, stubborn, always forgetting to replace the loo roll).

So it didn’t come as a huge shock to realise that I was also going to be an Imperfect Parent. I know that Perfect Parents do exist – the ones with an immaculate house, smart clothes, three delicious home-made meals every day, and polite, happy, well-adjusted children – but not in this house.

What I hope though, is that when I let things slip in relation to DorkySon, it’s only the small things. When DorkySon was born, DorkyDad and I vowed to each other that we would do anything in our power to keep him healthy, happy and safe. Beyond that, we would accept our limitations.

So yes, I do sometimes shove a bag of chocolate buttons in DorkySon’s hands, just to avoid a tantrum in the supermarket queue. Some nights I step over his trucks to get into bed because I haven’t bothered to pick them up. When we go to our Tumble Tots classes on Friday mornings, my hair is usually still soaking wet from the shower, because I haven’t found time to dry it. Last night I’d had big plans for Annabel Karmel vegetable skewers…but by 4.30pm I was whacked, so I sat DorkySon in front of a Peppa Pig video for ten minutes and stuck a pizza in the oven.

Looking back a few years from now, I am pretty sure that none of that will matter too much. I hope not.

I hope also that I continue to appreciate the real joy of being an imperfect parent; the knowledge that on those rare occasions when you pull off something perfect – when you haven’t had to let anything slip – you appreciate it all the more. There are those days when you manage to have fun with your family, cook something tasty for dinner, avoid any arguments AND slap on a bit of mascara. My standards may be pretty low, but for me, that spells perfection.

8 responses

  1. Oh I love this post! I’m definitely in the chocolate buttons/toys all over the floor/wet hair camp – I try to keep a long term view about what’s important in our family life and I think we are all the happier for it!

  2. Low standards of perfection do indeed create success much more easily lol! If we’re all out of the house looking clean and tidy, I count it as a win these days!

  3. I am all for chocolate buttons. In our house it is nutella that is a staple in our cupboard for such situations.These things are important to save the house from meltdown with a toddler around! Oh and my friend a dietitan told me you just have to feed them what is bad for you – calorie laden, cream based, heavy stuff – so Pizza is good! x

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! I still haven’t read all the posts from the carnival yet – but from the ones I have read it’s comforting to see that imperfect parenting is the norm!

  4. Pingback: Imperfect Parenting | Love All Blogs

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