Mom! It Doesn't Need to Be Perfect!


Yes, Mother. I can see you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me.
~Alice Walker

Funny, I have never been a perfectionist type.  I’m pretty sure that most people I work with would also agree that being detail oriented is not one of my strengths.  I’ve always been a big-picture-creative-type. 

However, I do believe that I have some strong Type-A personality tendencies that have manifested since I became a mother.  I developed some of these tendencies at a young age.  (I’m going to blame my poor father for this.)  He put a lot of pressure on me to put a lot of effort into everything I do.  I wasn’t the brainiac child.  (That was my sister.)  I was the kid that had to try twice as hard to get the same grades my sister would get without studying. 

So, over the years I established a pretty good work ethic but I also formed the expectation that everything I focused on, and put a lot of effort into would turn out well.  This has held true in my academics and most of my career.

But by having children…That’s a whole different ball game.

Mom! It Doesn't Need to Be Perfect!

The quote in the title is what my 7-year-old daughter said to me when I was trying to help her with her homework.  My response was, “Well, we need to at least try to be perfect.”  Isn’t that what we are supposed to be trying to do as parents?  Raise perfect children?

In the past few years we discovered that my daughter has anxiety issues paired with some asperger tendencies.  None of which the doctors say, is strong enough to diagnose as a disorder.  They say she has “heightened levels for her age”. 

My husband and I have gone through so many doctor and therapist visits.  We started noticing she behaved differently from the other kids about four years ago.  We checked it out as diligent parents would but we didn’t get stuck on trying to get her labeled.  Now, we resolve to helping her with social and coping skills so she can function normally with everyone else. 

She is an enigma.  She is creative, friendly, affectionate and musical.  But she doesn’t clue into some social cues but manages to make a lot of friends.  She has an amazing memory and written vocabulary and her grades are good but she has speech delays so has a tough time expressing herself verbally, so she writes a lot.  Her teachers tell me she plays alone at recess by choice because she’d rather act out scenes she's memorized or draw in the sand.  But she’s happy when she is doing this.  

The funny thing is, one of the issues that my daughter has is that she fixates on things she’s working on and gets worked up if it’s not perfect.  Her teachers at school helps her cope by allowing her to remove the pressure that she puts on herself to be perfect by saying things like, “It doesn’t need to be perfect.”

Never in my life would I have guessed I would be raising a special child like my daughter. When you have kids you figure you’ll be chasing after them to tidy up and correct their spelling.  I have a child who expresses the same anxiety with homework as an adult who has been told they are being tax audited.  I have a hard enough time relaxing myself!  Now I need to know how to explain relaxing to a 7-year old and have her do it.

This has been a good thing for me though.  I’ve been used to studying and researching things for my own personal growth.  Now I do it for the benefit of my children.

I had always been caught up in trying to better our lifestyle, but when things happened in my family concerning my children, I learned quickly what my real priorities are; what I really need and don’t need.  How important it is to keep things simple.

So, if you have ever felt bored with your life that you want to shake-up everything that you established for yourself as an independent single person, or want to discover an entirely new side to yourself, then please…have kids.  Heck…Get married too!…You will learn all kinds of interesting things about yourself.

I have never been into gambling, but I would equate having kids similar to adding that component of excitement, disappointment, chance, emotional torture, surprise and bliss into your life.  

It is a true test of your adaptability.  It’s learning how to factor in other personalities that are attached to these small people that you have made and mold them as best you can.  But the kicker is…you have to let go of the outcome.  When they are young, sure, you can guide them and hope the values you have instilled in them are ingrained so deeply that they will make good decisions.  But they are their own people.

It is no wonder that parents get caught up in enrolling their children into too many extra-curricular activities.  As a parent, it is so easy to get caught up in the idea that if you do X then your child will be able to output Y and the more you do it, the greater chance your child will have a fighting chance at being great at something, which will ultimately lead to their success, well adjustedness and economic independence.  (Hopefully they become filthy rich and may even send some of it back our way.)

I am finding however, this does not necessarily hold true for outcome in children.  I am slowly adjusting to the paradigm that I can only try to do my best, to instil good values and provide exposure and opportunity for them to develop their talents, but their outcome is not mine.

I will never regret choosing to have my daughter and son.  My daughter is different in a lot of ways but we’re blessed with her gifts.  My husband and I always say, there is a reason she was sent to us.  She has brought more out of us than anything we could have ever dreamt of.

Maybe everything already is perfect…


  1. Thoughtful post. I am one of those imperfect parents with imperfect kids. It just makes for an interesting life, and amazing children. I think all we can do is our best, and show our children love and acceptance of who they are. Parenting is a challenging and enjoyable rollercoster role in life.

  2. Our kids sound a lot alike! And you are right that we can mold them as best as we can but we need to let go of the outcome. It isn't fair to them.

  3. Beautiful post - our kids have to be perfect in their own ways. My girls are full of energy and really loud, it can drive you (and their teachers) up the wall, but that's who they are. I wouldn't change them for the world - they are perfect!!!


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