Being a Mom & Letting Go of Perfect
How do you know if you want to become a mother? Is it something that is chosen for you? Is it a need rooted deep from days of dressing up dolls or mimicking our own mothers? For me, it most likely stemmed from loving all things adorable and little. I used to dress up kittens on our family farm in doll clothes and push them around in a buggy, while the mother cat lazily looked on appreciative of the nursing break. Later in life, I moved on from kittens to best friends, caring for them, making sure their evenings out at local parties were safe. Usually deciding to be the DD to ensure we all made it home safely. In college, I became a nanny and a steady force of consistency for two small children that spent most of their days calling me ‘Nanna.’ I enjoyed it but admittedly, started to feel like I wanted more alone time with adults.
That time never came. At 20 I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I flew into power mom mode. The next 6 years were a blur of giving my all to two small children, finishing college, getting a divorce from my first husband, meeting my current husband, getting married and becoming pregnant with my third child. I was exhausted. Emotionally, physically…everything, I was just tired. But who has time to be tired when your third child turns 9 months old and you find out you are pregnant with now your fourth child. I know, I know…geez lady! Back away from your husband and learn some restraint. But truthfully, I was succeeding because my partner was bearing the bulk of the weight. At this point, I had checked out. I was by all counts a ‘good mom’ but not by my own personal standards. I did what I needed to do to ‘get by.’ I was there for all of them, but not in the way I was when my first two were born.
But what I came to realize is that this new version of Mommy was OK. Did my first two ever watch anything but one hour of PBS a day, usually when I made dinner? No. Do all four of them now have more screen time and do my toddlers now watch mindless shows about princesses that rarely have good teaching? Yes. Because sometimes I just need to sit down and stare at a wall and think about nothing. I have become more selfish. What does Mommy need? Do I sometimes text my partner, “At 6 pm I am leaving for 2 hours, is that ok?” It is, because he’s a gem and loves being a dad and knows just how draining it is to be a parent (more of his praises later, seriously, the dude needs a post just dedicated to his greatness).
Being a mom is hard. Being a mom that doesn’t take ‘Mommy’ time is even harder on you, on your children, on everyone. I used to feel guilty that I was letting them down by wanting to leave them, by wanting just a moment alone. But I finally started to understand that I wasn’t being the best version of myself by doing ‘it all.’ Everyone has their own standards and values of what being the perfect mom is. Some of us can’t let the dishes wait, some of us can. Following other moms that we aspire to can be joyful but draining. Find your middle. Do what works for you. If you need to sweep the floor before you go to bed so you wake up happier because your home is clean, do it. If waiting until tomorrow to clean up so you can get 30 more minutes of sleep is more important, then do it.
You do you, Mama.
Photo by: Geneoh Photography
Chelsey Werth is a photographer, producer, creator and mother of four. She grew up on a farm, but would rather ‘glamp’ than camp. She loves to garden, cook and bake, and when she’s not being a modern-day Martha Stewart, she also runs a family blog called Hop & Howl.