I am so excited to begin the blogging festival celebrating the Mama’s Comfort Camp birthday month with this post by my friend Kristin. It is such a great example of the mothering attitude the Mama’s Comfort Camp wishes to make more common. I believe that in parenting, it is often the gap between expectations and reality that causes much of the suffering we experience; when we adjust our expectations, we can help ourselves enjoy motherhood so much more. Thank you so much for this, Kristin. I’m making a mental note to remember your ideas next time I set foot on an airplane…
Kristin is a 25-year-old stay-at-home-mom and wife of a residence hall director. She has a toddler son, C, and is expecting Baby Deuce in early May. You can find her at Little Mama Jama, where she blogs about trying to figure out this thing we call parenthood, as well as her battle with postpartum depression, living on campus, pregnancy, and frugal living.
Have you ever looked at another family and thought, “Wow, if only my child was that well-behaved!”
Have you looked at another mom and thought, “How does she have time to bake such extravagant desserts and make herself look that good?”
Have you walked into someone else’s home and been jealous of their clean floors and abundant space?
I have; and I’m willing to bet that you have, too. It’s so easy to compare ourselves to other moms, our kids to other kids, and our homes to other homes. The problem is that we only see a glimpse of what others allow us to see. When we compare our insides to other people’s outsides, we fall short every time.
As a perfectionist, I have very high expectations of myself and I tend to project those same expectations on others, including my 22-month-old son. I sometimes expect more of him than is realistic. We went on a family vacation to Disney World in January, and I was terrified of how he’d act on the flight. I didn’t want to be “that family.” You know, the one with the screaming, kicking, out of control toddler who bothers all of the passengers on the plane. He did okay on the flight to Orlando, but on the way home? We were “that family.” I was mortified. He screamed repeatedly, was kicking the seat in front of him and was generally out of control.
Then it hit me. Kristin, he’s not even two years old. His ears hurt. He’s confined in a small space and can’t run around. He’s bored. This is normal behavior for his age under these circumstances. The kicking of the seat isn’t really his fault, since the passenger in front of him has her seat fully reclined and resting on his feet. All we can do is entertain and distract him the best that we can, but outside of that, his behavior is out of our control.
There is no perfect child.
Once I realized this, I knew I had to start changing my expectations. Expecting perfect behavior from my toddler was setting me up for stress, disappointment and frustration. Expecting perfect mothering from myself was setting myself up for failure. I’m not going to be supermom all the time – maybe not ever! I’m human and I just need to love him, be there for him and do the best I can. That’s all he needs.
I’ve been working on changing my expectations, because I’ve realized that no person or situation is as perfect as it may seem. I looked around and realized that while I yearn for my own home, my homeowner friend is envious that we never need to do maintenance work on our apartment. While my son is a terribly picky eater and I’m envious of parents whose children eat well, he has also turned into an excellent sleeper. Perhaps those children eat well, but have difficulty sleeping. I might be frustrated with how my stomach looks after experiencing two pregnancies and (soon-to-be) two cesarean sections; but my friend with the washboard stomach hates something else about her body.
No child is perfect. No mother is perfect. No home is perfect. Nobody is perfect.
Changing my expectations has made me calmer, happier and more satisfied with all areas of my life. Moms, it’s time to change our expectations so that we can embrace our own lives, our own children, our own homes and our own skin. We are beautifully imperfect.
Mama’s Comfort Camp is a place we can all come and be welcomed with open arms as the beautifully imperfect people that we are. Yael has created a community where we can go to laugh, cry, celebrate our triumphs and stomp our anxieties away with each other. It’s been a wonderful place for me to go to shower others with love and support when they need it, and to seek out that same support when I need it. I’m thankful that Yael has created this space where we can all just be completely ourselves without any pressure to be more. The honesty and love in that community helps me to change my expectations and be true to myself – imperfections and all.
Thank you so much for this, Kristin.
So what do you think?
Where in your mothering could you let go of expectations that only add stress to your life?
Share in the comments, and if you have a minute, check out Kristin’s lovely blog:
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