From the Mothership: Hoping for Perfection


Only a few weeks into the first grade, my teacher requested a parent conference. This is not the note you want to bring home to the folks. Even at 7 years old, I knew something was up and that something likely wasn’t good.

I still remember how it all went down: Me sitting at an empty table coloring while my parents huddled around Mrs. Ousley’s desk making quiet conversation. After several minutes, my mother called me to join their discussion. My mom gently grabbed my left shoulder, brought her face lower so it was even with mine, and said:

“Emily, it is okay if you do not make a 100 on every worksheet.”

What? What was this foolishness coming out of this woman’s mouth? Did she just tell me a 96 was acceptable? Hog wash.

You see, Mrs. Ousley noticed the stress when a new concept didn’t click right away, the tears and upset stomach when the grade wasn’t “perfect.” So she phoned my parents to get to the heart of the matter. And that, friends, was the first time (at least that I recall) being confronted with my struggle for perfectionism. (Thank you, Ms. O, by the way!)

Decades later, a handful of B’s (even one C in college!) later, and some oh-so-helpful counseling along the way, my tendency to cling to these crazy ideals in my head was much less the monster it once was.

Babies Stage Left

Cue the children. When my first darling jewel arrived . . . oh, heck, let’s cut to the chase. Most mothers are maniacal about the health, adjustment, and development of their children — with a heaping dose of “am-I-doing-this-right-will-I-mess-up-my-kids-forever.” But couple that with a mind prone to pressure, prone to create an ideal to mimic, and whiz bang, you’re in trouble.

In that moment, at month three of my little lady’s life, when I sat in her nursery floor certain I could never “conquer, perfect” motherhood, I remembered: “It’s okay if you don’t make a 100 on every worksheet.”

My girls
They are perfect for me. I am perfect for them.

Sure it sounds crazy, but it’s true. That memory was a jolt that reminded me of that early lesson and the subsequent significant lessons learned years after. Of course, no child should EVER BELIEVE the goal is to ace every problem, every test. That is not success. It is just as ridiculous for any mother to believe perfection in parenting is possible. Perfection is a farce. Anything of value is messy and jagged and real. The ups and downs, triumphs and failures, and the love deep enough to cover it all, THAT is what makes mothering beautiful, mesmerizing. And I am learning to lean into that truth.

Career Stage Right

Not one person in my family felt shocked by my career choice — an editor. However, this publishing career path did not pop into my mind until the summer before college commenced. This was/is the perfect outlet for my perfectionist tendencies to manifest; yet, even in this, the same rules apply: perfection is not possible, reality really is preferred, and sometimes good enough takes the cake. (Read and repeat.)

Now at the helm of the Fort Worth Moms Blog, I am determined to follow my own advice. I want this blog to benefit the stay-at-home mamas, the working mamas, the formula-feeding mamas, the breastfeeding mamas, and all the mamas in between. To do that, I must, we must drop these crazy notions about perfect parents and perfect children and what makes a perfect woman.

I am not perfect. The FWMB is not perfect. But here’s to a place, a forum, a community where we champion motherhood, femininity, and all that facets of womanhood.

Oh, and don’t forget: “It’s okay if you don’t make a 100 on every worksheet.”


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