If there is one thing that I have learned so far in the four (almost five) months of being pregnant it's that you can't really prepare for whatever happens once your child is here. Parenthood, in this respect, represents the biggest leap of faith I have ever taken in my life. I'm doing the trust fall, and I hope I'm there to catch me on the other side. Now, I could get wrapped up in what will my child eat, where will more money, time, and more of "me" in general come from, but instead I have decided to focus solely on what I can control, which is basically getting the nursery ready.
I am not really planning on a birth plan (though my doula will tell me from time to time that I veering dangerously into birth plan territory) and I am not making much of parenting plan, either. My big plan for parenting? My husband and I are going to be ourselves. You know what that means? We don't plan on being perfect parents. It's a trap, anyway, in case you haven't surmised that on your own.
Parents who think they can do it all right are some of the most annoying people that you can ever hope to meet, and I don't want to be those people. I want to be a real person doing this life thing authentically and as far as I am concerned that means I am going to mess up. I am gonna keep my little fingers crossed we don't screw up too bad, but I am pretty sure that somewhere along the way I will:
Let my kid eat fast food
Drop the f-bomb multiple times in front of my kid (who knows, maybe in the same sentence)
Demonstrate some terrible behavior that I will quickly tell them not to tell daddy about
Piss my kid off over something they can't have, several times over
Fight with my husband only to realize kid has seen the whole thing
Pretend I didn't see them eat that thing off the ground
And many, many more things I can't even imagine....
Any mother I have ever spoken to has their own horror stories about the things they did that make them less than perfect parents. The funny thing is, most of them know that they occasionally screw up, make bad decisions or just plain don't care (exhaustion has a funny way of doing that, they tell me.) It's just that we are all running around trying so hard to "be the best" that we are too stubborn to admit we don't actually want to be perfect--we just want to be ourselves.
In the final analysis, I blame society for putting these ridiculous guilt trips on parents about what we should or shouldn't be doing and when. For whatever reason, American mothers seem to hold in more guilt than Catholics, and I just wanted to say: I'm not playing the guilt game. I'm gonna screw up as a parent, but I'm not going to punish myself over and over again or (worse) tell myself that any of these things make me a bad parent. I am going to be a parent who is present and attentive. I'm going to be funny, down to earth, and not riddled with guilt for the times when I am not living up to the standard of the day.
So whether you are an expectant mom, like me, or already a mom, I suggest you give yourself a break and not try and be perfect. And I don't just mean right this second--I mean all the time. Perfect is dull. Authenticity dictates that we have to be vulnerable enough to screw up, and you know what? Most of the time, it's a great learning lesson for children to see their parents be normal humans. I know that my parents have made mistakes and seeing them deal with it has helped me in my life up to now.
Be human. Be vulnerable. Do not attempt perfection--you'll be disappointed every time.