Friday, September 9, 2011

Perfect

(Carter, 1 week old)
Call me crazy, but I want to be perfect.

I want to keep  my house perfectly clean and picked up- organized to a fault, of course.
I want to put healthy and nutritious meals on the table for my family, tempting even Addison's picky appetite.
I want to always keep up with the laundry and have fresh smelling, folded clothes arranged neatly in the appropriate drawers.
I want to get up every two to three hours to nurse my newborn and not feel the lack of sleep.
I want to be able to entertain and stimulate Addison appropriately every minute of the day- and be present for every second of her many therapy appointments.
I want to cuddle my son and speak soothingly when his dark eyes widen in terror at the sight of his sister.

But truth be told- I fail at that list. Constantly.

There's nothing like having a brand new baby to remind you how exactly imperfect you are. You picture the ads from the 50s of the housewife dressed to the nines, vacuuming her floor while simultaneously rocking her baby to sleep and cooking a five course meal (OK, maybe that's not an ad, but it's the general concept). Todays "50s ad" is the blogs. Do you realize how easy it is for some blogs to always picture their lives as perfect? their children dressed to a fault in the latest fashion, sitting neatly in a row while working on various crafts to boost their intelligence level. Nothing is ever out of place- everything is perfect. Blogs can be so deceiving- showing only the slice of life that the writer chooses to share.

This week I have been striving for my version of perfection, working diligently during the blessed time that the kids are asleep to fold laundry, unload the dishwasher, wipe down the bathroom, vacuum up the worst spots- housewife survival. But today, the lack of sleep was just catching up with me, and while Grandma had Addison and Carter was fast asleep, I ignored the disaster that needed my attention and took a long, leisurely nap.

Ah, a nap. A nap to a mom with a newborn is like a tall glass of cool water to someone stranded in the desert-after consuming too much salt and hiking 6 miles in the heat.

I enjoyed my nap appropriately and then arose when Addison was back and Carter cried to be fed. I nursed Carter while Addison watched signing time in her crib and relished in feeling somewhat well rested for the first time all week.

I took Carter into the living room, placed him in his swing, went to retrieve Addison, warmed up a cup of coffee and was about to collapse back on the couch and watch Addison play- just enjoying my children. Still wearing my hot pink pajama pants and looking exactly like someone who had been kept awake all night, I was surrounded by overwhelming clutter and an unvacuumed floor. You can imagine my surprise when I saw a wonderful couple from church standing on my front porch with a meal for us.

I vaguely remembered emailing that they could drop it by any time (right after I forgot a chiropractor appointment and received a phone call from a therapist that I forgot to call back) and I blushed as I looked around at my house and invited them in as graciously as possible.

My imperfection was now on display.

As they put the delicious looking meal in my kitchen, crumbs lined the countertops, empty pop cans sat on the butcher block, a bag of breast milk storage containers had been liberally spread across the floor by Addison, 10 bottles sat by the sink that I had retrieved from under Addison's crib that morning....

I was embarrassed. Clearly I was a failure.

After a nice visit, they left, and I tried to sort out why this was bothering me so much.

After all, one week ago today I had a brand new baby. Both of my children were clean, dressed and fed. I had limited time and had chosen a nap over the pick up.

Why was I being so hard on myself? I know that I needed that nap to keep my sanity. Was imperfection really failure or just my reality?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that while having a new baby is challenging me past what I thought I was capable of- I will learn and grow and adapt to my  new normal. I will be able to keep up with my house again soon.

But meanwhile it's OK to having a learning period. It's OK to adjust. It's OK to be imperfect. It's OK to need help from other people.

To the lady in the 50's ad with perfect hair and makeup while doing housework with one hand and cooking and mothering with the other- you are fake. You are not real. Stop making me feel inferior.

Sometimes doing the best you can is the new perfect. Nothing more. Nothing less. And you grow and learn, rising to the occasion of life.

Why is it that as moms we're so hard on ourselves? Why do we expect the perfection that we see on TV shows and read about in other people's blogs? That's not real perfection- it's made up, supported by television crews, millions of dollars, and advance planning to give that illusion of perfection. We're all just doing the best we can, stretching ourselves to our next level of achievement.

So here I am. Imperfect. But happy. and blessed beyond what I ever thought possible. I'm letting go of the guilt and enjoying these moments. After all, the clutter and laundry problems will always be there...but my sweet little newborn and spitfire toddler won't.

Speaking of perfection, I tried to get a good sibling shot with their "big sister" "little brother" shirts...clearly they were aiming for perfection as well...


better luck next time, I guess...

To the couple who brought us the meal: the brownies were the most amazing brownies I have ever tasted. Clearly, every brownie rule was followed. Truly, those brownies were perfect. Thank you. (-:

15 comments:

  1. I want to be perfect too. And am far from it. But you are the perfect mom to your perfect babies. That's all that matters :-)

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  2. Here's hoping things get better soon. I can't imagine two little ones at the same time...give yourself some credit! And I love the sibling pic where it looks like Addison is just happily laying on her brother...priceless.

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  3. I struggle with this myself. I want desperately to live in a sparkly clean house, to have that perfect house always ready if someone stops by unexpectedly. Yet, I learned when Caleb was small that time with our kids is fleeting. And frankly, you don't want their greatest memory of you to be "My mom always kept the house spotless." You want them to remember all the times that you dropped everything to play, or read a story, or just cuddle. Don't feel guilty. You are obviously taking care of what is most important! :)

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  4. you also have to remind yourself, that even though you might 'feel" ok you just had a baby. Your body is in need of rest even if you don't think you do. It is recovering, making food for your baby, and also lacking in some sleep due to feedings. Please give yourself time to recoup before you get perfect ideas..lol just some reminders from an imperfect mother who has been where you are.... get what needs to be done but enjoy your baby in the process he will only be little like this for so long. :) The more children you have the more this advice will make sense! BTW: He is a beautiful boy and I love his big sister's curiosity to her new sibling.

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  5. I so can't relate. I'm perfect.




    BAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    I had a post-late-night-blogging-melt-down this morning. It wasn't pretty. I've been banned from staying up past my bedtime to blog by my husband and kids as a result!

    I think we should have reality week in blog land. Post our dirty piles of laundry and our pop cans on the butcher block photos.

    Wait- I'm talking to the woman who looks like a CoverGirl model after giving birth. I don't believe you're not perfect!!!

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  6. I so agree with you. The thing about the 50s housewife is that those two babies won't remember if the house was spotless that particular day, but they will remember all the love and attention they get from you. That's worth more than clean countertops any day.

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  7. Here's a line that should come in handy... "Oh! What a surprise! My goodness, I just walked in the house myself. That husband of mine has been here all day, so excuse the mess."

    Push your ethics and self-condemnation aside and use it at will. :0) xoxox Love those sweeties of yours. DEEEEElicious.

    When do we get the photo of the wildly celebrated scrotum? (Just kidding...of course.) xoxo

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  8. ok first I'm so shaking my finger at you for even THINKING about doing housework one week postpartum! My midwife forbids me to do anything but care for my newborn for 6 weeks (ok at least 2 and then nothing heavy which to her includes vacuuming and laundry) and second....I'm only just now getting my household back under control and Reagan turns one next Saturday, so perfect...yeah, so overrated! Now if I lived a few states closer, I would come over and do a little housecleaning for you and make you take another nap! And bring you more brownies that follow all the rules :)

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  9. Hang in there, Deanna!! This is EXACTLY what I went through when I gave birth to our second baby five months ago. It's really hard to let go of that "perfection" that you feel that you can "almost" achieve when you just have one child. But God is good, and He gives us grace to except the imperfections and learn to just love on our babies. :)

    Hang in there! SO happy for you! Your kids are absolutely darling!! :)

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  10. Thanks for this! I was just sitting here thinking I should clean up the mess around my house. The mess that shows that 3 kids are having a great day playing. Silly me. And I loved the comment that said we should have a 'reality' week in blog land. Which inspired me to toss up a quick post w/reality pictures of my house...right now. As is. In full having-a-blast-while-playing mode. I needed this reminder to relax and breathe...http://thebossymom.com/2011/09/what-my-home-really-looks-like-when-no-one-is-coming-over/

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  11. Hi
    My name is Jenna and i came across your site. Carter is Cutie, and so adoreble. Addison is beautiful, and cute. That is a cute pic of big sister, and her little brother, adoreble! Especially with their shirts on! It looks like Addison was checking her baby brother out. I was born with a rare life threatening disease,and developmental delays. I love it when people sign my guestbook. www.miraclechamp.webs.com

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  12. Oh my goodness, I have been out of town and didn't get to catch up on all the blogs I follow and I missed it...I missed the post where you announce that you had your baby! I am so sorry I wasn't one of the first to congratulate you! Get some sleep...pretty sure the lady in the 50's ad ends up with some wicked wrinkles and grey hairs from not ever sleeping ;-)

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  13. give yourself some grace and take the NAP! when baby sleeps mommy needs to sleep too. (remember that dust is a protective covering) =) enjoy your little ones.

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  14. Oh my goodness... you're my long lost sister. I strive for perfection too and as I'm struggling to juggle two children (my newest addition is just two months old) I feel like I'm constantly struggling and doing less than I should.

    I'm trying to let myself adjust to the new norms of being a mom of two but it's hard.

    Thanks for being so honest.

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