I was chatting recently with a wonderful photographer friend of mine (who you must check out; her maternity+newborn+family photog is out of this world). We were talking about the pressures of being a good mother, and she joked (although, I’m not sure it was actually a joke), that she wanted a t-shirt that displayed the words, “World’s Okay-est Mom”. We laughed, but I think we may have both breathed a sigh of relief; we are both those moms, and we are okay with it (most of the time).
It’s okay to not be perfect. You’ve heard this before, and you’ve nodded your head in agreement, but somehow, not being perfect still feels like not-quite-enough.
One of my close friends has been my back-yard neighbour since we’ve lived in our current home, almost 8 years. We were both a part of a local "peaceful parenting" online group for years before meeting. We knew each other by name, but we’d never met, until we were both pregnant with our youngest, and my middle son and her oldest were toddling around in our neighbour hood playing together. When we put together where we knew each other from, we couldn’t believe we’d spent all of these years as neighbours, living parallel lives, listening to each others baby’s cry and…
Oh no. She’s heard me.
All this time, my fellow ‘peaceful parent’, has been a secret witness to the inner happenings of my messy life. She’s heard me fight with my husband, yell at my kids, and she’s definitely seen my toddler running around bare-foot, without clothes, on more than one occasion.
I was mortified, and I was closing doors and windows every chance I got after this horrible discovery. I needed to make sure she only saw the best of me, after years of probably hearing and seeing things I’d never want anyone to know. She wasn’t going to want to be my friend. She was probably going to out me on our local parenting group, and tell all the other perfect moms that I’m actually not the perfect, peaceful parent we were all striving to be.
Except, she didn’t. She’s actually apologized to me on occasion about some or other parenting moment that she’s been ashamed of. She accepted me, and perhaps…she felt like she wasn’t alone. We aren’t the same. She has a gentler, softer way about her, and I admire her in so many ways. But she isn’t perfect either; she’s another OKAY mom, and we get to pretty candidly walk that journey in closer quarters than most, and I’ve stopped feeling like I need to measure up to the invisible expectation I’d set out before me.
It’s okay to just be okay. It’s okay to feel like you fall somewhere in the middle. It’s okay to have days where you shoot for the stars, and days where you feel like you are somewhere situated at the bottom of a filthy water well. Sometimes it’s one step forward and 3 steps back, but it’s a journey that we are all on, and no one's looks quite the same as the other.
We live in a world where we tend to only see and share our proudest, sexiest, most put-together moments; we’re all just trying to portray the best version ourselves. We want to remember and celebrate the moments that we feel like we shine, but let’s not forget that WE ALL have some pretty cloudy days and some really ugly moments that we mostly keep to ourselves.
We need to take a good look in the mirror and stop tearing ourselves apart and instead tell ourselves what we love, because negativity breeds negativity. Affirming our best qualities doesn’t mean ignoring our worst, but when we really begin to believe the exceptional and beautiful things about ourselves, those are the things that will flourish and multiply in our life.
There will be some things our kids will remember that we wish they’d forget. We will fall short of our own expectations, and we will probably compare ourselves to the people we think are doing a better job than we are. But let’s go easy on ourselves, and let’s be honest, we are all just OKAY.