Perfection is an illusionLong before most of us had kids, we had an idea of what we'd be like as parents. We had the ideal fantasy of what our world with children would be like. And while we sat staring at our first child, we put together a little list of the things we wanted to teach our kids, the things we needed to modify within ourselves to be that "perfect" parent, which of course had no resemblance to our own parents at all. We clung to it as our personal parent bible and we would rise to the challenge. We would be the best parents the world has ever known.
With that, the first kid is watched like a hawk, juice boxes are evil and you hyper-hover so that no chemicals via manufactured foods will ever get inside your kid. You do the kid classes and although they may not have a clue what is going on, you feel validation in a room full of mother's doing the same thing.
Then the second kid comes along, and a couple of the things you used to micro manage, lose their ranking on the priority chain. It takes some reworking and time, but eventually you adjust to two kids. Kid classes are harder with two, so you stop going. You say "I can play with them at home", pat yourself on the back and carry on.
And then you have more kids and everything goes to hell. The house looks like several small tornadoes ransacked the house at all times, even after you spent several hours cleaning it. Juice boxes become the norm and you let them have any type of chemical-laden food just so they give you a few minutes alone, and if that occurs while you're in the bathroom, then it's a double bonus. Classes become too expensive and too difficult to manage with all the kids, so you stay home and plug them in because you're too tired. You're just happy you've made it through the day so far.
People see you in public with all the kids and say things like, "are they all yours?" No, I got the BOGO code and got a great deal in aisle 13, and, "I don't know how you do it", I drink, lady. Lots and lots. If crack came in a patch, I would be wearing one. I miss the days in NJ where the the liquor stores were attached to the grocery stores and I could wheel everyone into the liquor store after grabbing milk, to fill my cart up with essentials. The cashier would make the observation that I was buying more beer than food, count the kids and nod her head. You feel my pain, lady?
When you start allocating a percentage of the grocery money for beer, all the ideas you had long ago, about being the perfect parent become laughable. You realize that you yell and threaten your kids as much, if not better than your parents. "I'll give you something to cry about". But instead of hitting, we'll introduce Barbie to the recyclable bin. You have become your parents and every time you say, "How many times have I told you...", you grimace and have to squelch the impulse to soak your head in the sink.
You shift your focus on surviving the parenting experience, and hope that your kids will be resilient enough to not need as much therapy as you think they will.
You let go of the word "perfect" and strive for "better than most", which is way more realistic. Perfection is like a unicorn. It is a unattainable fantasy, just like the ones you had before kids which hyper-focused on the novelty of having children, instead of the challenges they provide.
And believe me, they are a challenge. Mommy needs her juice box.