From time to time I ask myself the same questions over and over again: How can I be a good wife, employee, human? Am I doing it right? Why do I feel sad, angry, disappointed? Since my daughter, Caroline was born my question has changed a bit- How can I be a “GOOD MOM”? How do I balance it out and stay sane in the process? Now, I think I know the answer and if you will bear with me on this I’ll share it with you too.
Why not “perfect”?
Some may ask, why my aim is to be “good”, and not “perfect”? I tried to be perfect most of my life and I was miserable, but I’ll tell you more about that later. First, let’s look at what being “perfect” really means.
Firstly, “perfect” is not something that is always possible to achieve. I would call it a mythological creature from a fantasy world, because you simply can’t be perfect in everything. If you are perfect at one thing, you are terrible at others.
Secondly it is unhealthy to be perfect. When you try to be the best, number one, top notch, you burn out, stress out and get super exhausted quickly. Things and activities that where fun and enjoyable turn into a burden and life looks dull and difficult. You set your goals super high and if you fail, and at some point you will, you get angry toward yourself. You will feel like a bad mom failing at everything, and you will feel guilty for not doing your best and begin shaming yourself – this is a straight and fast road to self destruction and depression. Do not take that road!
Set your goals lower
What does it mean to me to be a “good” mom? Well, sometimes your house is clean, your baby is well dressed, you cook healthy meals, do yoga or fitness, have your hair and make up done and you don’t even want to kill your husband. But occasionally you look like Jack Nicholson from “The Shining”, your baby looks like a dirty homeless monster in a diaper, your house resembles a post apocalyptic place, you consume tons of donuts at late midnight dinners and plan your husbands homicide.
I think you get the point.
What happens when your goal is to be a “good” mom? You allow yourself to be imperfect, you even make space in your plans for those lousy days when everything in your life goes off the grid and out of your control, you expect it to happen. In the end, on average, you are a ”good” mom, mostly being “perfect”, but seldom so imperfect and disastrous. Suddenly you don’t feel guilty anymore, and sometimes you even feel proud of yourself if less disasters happened than planned or Nicholson turned into Mary Poppins just until lunch.
How can you be a “good” mom? My rule is 80/20. Basically, it means trying to do my best 80% of the time, and 20% of the time I’m a “bad” mom. Being a “bad” mom to me means: not brushing my or my daughters teeth, not cooking veggies, just ordering some chinese fast food, no chores (no walks, outside activities, sports, laundry, cleaning, working, writing, cooking) just walking around in pajamas with my baby, littering the house, watching Youtube or Netflix, making mistakes, getting angry, crying, screaming, eating tons of chocolate and so on. You name it, I’ve done it.
I enjoy this 20%, I enjoy it a lot! And of course “bad” mom happens when she wants to, not necessary on weekends She might visit on Monday or any day she wants, but I accept her and we have a great time together. This combination of “perfect” and “bad” mom makes your life easier. In my view, all of us have this combination of “perfect” and “ bad” in them, the problem is that not everyone accepts this bad side. We try to delete it and feel ashamed when it takes control, but if we would accept it and just enjoy that part of us, our life as a mother and generally as a human ends up happier.
The old saying goes: happy mom, happy baby. Please make notice it doesn’t say “perfect” mom.
I know that I set an example for my daughter too. I hope that she will learn that she doesn’t have to be perfect or first all of the time and she can have a bad day. Moms, being second is great – you have most of the winner benefits without killing yourself in the process. When you follow the 80/20 rule you become a happier person, you no longer aim to be the best, your aim is to balance it and enjoy the process called life.
Do you really want to be “perfect”?
Most of my life I tried to be perfect in everything I did. I tried to be the best in my school, at university, at work. I was competing with everyone everywhere. It motivated me to work harder, but it also made me aggressive toward others, and I envied those who did better than me. It gave me back pain and strong headaches almost every other day. My life was a race and I felt like I would lose it all if I did not sacrifice another weekend for work. I have achieved a lot in a short time, I have gained a lot of knowledge and practise and I learned in 3 years what others learn in 6. The quality of my work entered the higher level, but I was drained physically and emotionally. I felt locked in the game, and the number one rule was go faster otherwise you will lose it all.
Then my belly grew..
Motherhood stopped this race for good, I left the train and sometimes I feel sad that this train is going fast forward without me, especially when my fellow colleagues are excelling at ther careers, achieving what I once wanted to achieve. But motherhood taught me something new. It opened my eyes, and showed me the world from a different perspective, where sharing a moment is more valuable than earning money. Creating a memory is more important than being best. Afterall my daughter doesn’t want a “perfect” mom who has it all under control, but is unhappy, tired with a headache. Is it what I want?
I started to dig into my mindset and saw that some of the values I had before were not mine. Those fake values drained me and gave me headaches. All because I wasn’t doing it for me. Culture, community, family and even friends influence us. I thought that buying that fancy car, achieving some title or being first, best, perfect is what I want and it will make me happy, but it only gave me pain and disappointment. I found happiness in a cup of great coffee with my old friend, in early morning walks in the park. What makes you happy?
Motherhood helped me to find my true values. I found what I really love and am more honest with myself and others. I am being the most authentic me. I stopped trying to be “perfect” and have accepted myself- flaws and all. It isn’t easy after 30 years of being what others think of you. I’m still learning to be myself, but it is the path worth taking and exploring. You have just this one life, why not do it your way? Remember, what others think of you is none of your business. Be the mom you want, be the woman you dream, be the human you really are, it doesn’t matter how weird or imperfect it may be. What I really know is that all of us are a bit weird, it is a human thing, so find your thing and embrace it, you will love it.
Oh, and allow yourself to be imperfect and make mistakes, use that 20% to the limits, enjoy being a “bad” mom, “bad” wife or just “bad”.
If you know a new mom, just share this with her. Don’t allow her to feel ashamed of not being “perfect” in every step of motherhood. Hopefully, this will show her that being “bad” is a good thing, and not only in motherhood.
Be happy, be bad.