Real moms inspire me! Moms who balance work and family life and moms who stay-at-home with their kids. Moms who juggle soccer practice and baseball games, meetings with clients and work deadlines with trips to the grocery store, the vet, and the pediatrician and dentist for annual check ups. Moms who get up each morning, despite battling cancer or other health challenges, and make breakfast, pack lunch boxes and continue on with their everyday lives, despite the constant anxiety and fear that having a significant physical or mental illness presents. Moms are heroes in my mind because they constantly give of themselves to their families and often, to their friends and communities, too.
I love to read memoirs of inspiring women throughout history who’ve worked to make the world a better place. I also love human interest stories in newspapers, blogs or websites about regular, non-famous moms and their journeys. Often, though, when I read about motherhood, I feel like I’m reading a fictionalized version of the truth. More like “inspired by true events” than simply the real, honest truth of the day in and day out joys and struggles that are inherent in parenting. I was inspired to write this post this morning as I’m simultaneously creating my holiday card on Tiny Prints! I have one tab on my computer open searching my iPhoto albums to select a family photo and the other tab is open to my blog and a blank screen awaiting the words I’ve longed to say on this topic. As I look for a beautiful image of our family from this past year to highlight, I am mindful that one happy picture does not tell the complete story of anyone’s life and certainly not mine.
I’ve written before on this blog about my struggle to overcome perfectionism and my journey to embrace a more joyful and authentic way of life. Perfectionism is a mask that many moms like me wear. It’s safer and provides a type of armor to the world around you. But, it is also exhausting to keep this pace up! Parenthood and perfectionism do not mix. Period. I’ve done a lot of soul searching this past year and what I’ve come to learn is that joy comes first. When we focus on the joy in our lives–and what brings us each joy is different, of course–we become mindful, calmer, and more able to see the beauty in the everyday. It’s incredibly freeing to let go! To allow ourselves to be seen as perfectly imperfect parents. To allow our family, friends, our community and the world to see us as human beings, not supermoms!
Being authentic is what makes us who we are as women and mothers. It’s also what makes us interesting, unique and what draws people to us. No young girl dreams of becoming a Stepford wife! Most young girls I’ve talked to long to create lives for themselves that are meaningful and full of the things, people, work and causes they are passionate about. They are ready to dive in to their adult lives with joy, enthusiasm and passion! When we become mothers, we also become role models for our sons and daughters and by holding on to our essential self and valuing joy and authenticity, we are teaching our children to do the same as they grow up.
It’s taken me a long time to realize that perfectionism is not something to aspire to. Perfectionism in motherhood is an impossibility and robs you of so much joy. I have chosen to embrace my humanness, my flaws, my strengths and weaknesses. I am making the choice to allow “good enough” to be more than enough. In simply clicking the “publish” button on this piece today, I am making the choice to be vulnerable by sharing my story. I know I am not alone and that many Type A moms reading this piece will recognize a bit of themselves in these words. I hope that if you do, you will join me in dropping the mask of perfectionism and embrace authentic motherhood. When we choose to be courageous and to be open with our lives, we are inviting others around us to do the same. When we share not only our joy and Facebook-worthy photo ops with our friends and family, but also our struggles, our pain and our worries, we are being real. Let’s let go of the supermom myth–she isn’t real and exists only our imaginations!
If there’s one thing I’d love for you to take away from reading this post, it’s these words, your voice matters. Each mom has a unique story to tell and share. I love listening to stories from other moms about their days, about how they’ve created the life they have and the choices they’ve made along the way. Instead of comparing or judging each other’s choices, we can choose to listen. Really listen. We can appreciate one another and offer words of encouragement. We can choose to use our voices for good! We can create the kind of nurturing and positive culture of parenthood in our communities that we all long to have.