The last few weeks, I’ve been experiencing some problems with Honest Girl and Honest Baby’s daycare, specifically, with the woman who assists in Honest Baby’s infant section. <Sidebar> The nature of the problem isn’t important.  I’ve had long discussions with the director about the issue, and, as far as I’m concerned, it has been cleared up. I’m not one to hold grudges.  Mistakes happen.  People sometimes use poor judgment.  Forgive, but never forget.</Sidebar> Though we held a meeting and talked the issue through, I was still nervous about sending the girls to daycare this morning.  Would the person I had complained about treat them differently?  Would she be bitter?  Would she resent me, and therefore my children, by proxy?  Would I be forced to pull my kids out of there?  Was my complaint going to be responsible for a hostile environment for my girls?

I brought them in to the center, left Honest Girl to her breakfast and her “boyfriend” (she currently has two. One is the boy next door, and the other is a boy at daycare who apparently likes to hug her. A lot.), then took a breath and brought Honest Baby to the infant area.  The woman I had complained about smiled, sheepish.  “Can I talk to you?”  I smiled back.  I suddenly felt like a small child.

She apologized, repeatedly, for her actions with Honest Baby, and begged me to not remove the girls from the center: “We all just love them.  They’re the sweetest little things.  They love each other so much.  It’s just wonderful to see every day.”  I smiled, knowing that, for all of the other things that might be chaotic in my household, my girls really do love each other. Honest Baby smiles with her entire body whenever Honest Girl comes over to her, and Honest Girl loves to bring Baby her toys, her blanket, loves to hold her hand and kiss her, and help burp her.  At least once a day at the center, Honest Girl walks over to the infant area and spends some time with Honest Baby.  She calms little sister down, makes her smile, and it melts their caretakers’ hearts.  I nodded, “I know.  They’re crazy about each other.”

“And about you.  You know, you’re a perfect mother.”

I was taken aback.  Perfect mother? I started to shake my head.

She reached out and put a hand on my arm.  “No, no.  I’m not just saying this.  God’s honest.  I see you drop them off every morning.  I see you ask for kisses, and hugs, and tell them that you love them.  I see how their hair is always combed, and how you put them in nice, clean clothes every day. You are a really, just perfect mother.  I’ve always thought so.”

I had started crying without realizing it.

She continued, her eyes filling. “And the way those babies love each other?  They don’t just know how to do that.  Babies have to be shown how to love like that.  They have to see it somewhere.  They get it from you.”

I looked away. Perfect mother. Perfect mother? I thought about the time-outs I had to give Honest Girl this week, the night I let her eat a hot dog and bar-be-que chips for dinner, the time I let Honest Baby cry in her crib because I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed for the fourth time, even though I knew that she had a little head cold and just wanted to snuggle.  I though about my dirty bathrooms, and grease-covered range. Perfect mother?

I think I said thank you.  I hope I did.  But it couldn’t have come out as anything other than a whisper as tears rolled down my face.  Regardless, she pulled me to her and hugged me, tight.

Every day, at some point, I feel overwhelmed.  Every day, I feel anxiety.  Every day, I convince myself that I am permanently damaging these incredible, young souls that are under my care.  But her words made me realize something.  When was the last time, parents, that we thought about how we’re perfect for our children?  When was the last time somebody told you, without instigation, that you are doing a good job?  When was the last time you admitted that, yes, the dirty dishes have taken over, but I just made my toddler laugh, and felt, honestly and truly, that that was enough??

So let’s start right now.  Right here.  How do you feel perfect as a parent?  What things make you feel overwhelmed?  I’ll bet, once you write it out, you’ll find that the bad stuff is easy to let go of, and the ways that we are perfect will be things that we can hold on to, all day long.  You don’t have to share your name.  At the end of today, I’ll collect all of your responses, and copy them to the end of this post, so that the whole world can bask in our collective awesomeness.  This can be completely anonymous. I just want you to think, really hard, about how great you are. Because you are.  You all are.  I promise. Just perfect.

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Because they always think you’re perfect. No matter what.

 

I’ll start:

Name: Rachel

I am a Perfect Parent When I . . . I am great at story time. I do the funny voices, I yell, I emote, I wave my arms. I can make my girls laugh, and even my infant, who doesn’t understand language yet, is mesmerized by mommy at story time. I know that I’m helping instill in my girls a lifelong love of books. I’m also a really good cook. When I make dinner, I *make* dinner! And, often, we will all sit at the kitchen table and eat dinner as a family. Together. That’s important to me, and I think I rock it.

I Feel Overwhelmed as a Parent When . . . When I think about actually organizing, cleaning, and maintaining my house, I have a small aneurism. It’s too big, there’s too many places for dust to collect, or cobwebs to form. And don’t even get me started on the sad shape of my toilets! I have finally made peace with my vacuum cleaner, only to trade clean floors for dirty bathrooms.

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