Motherhood is About Connection, Not Perfection
“Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard and valued—when they can give and receive without judgment.” – Brené Brown
Human researcher Brené Brown spends a lot of her work reinforcing that we are wired for connection. And I think the majority of us can agree with that. Yes, of course, we want to feel a connection and a kinship with our families, our friends, our world. We want to be wholly present, meaningful engaged. But there's a surprising factor that often stands in the way of it: the desire for perfection.
Ever spend hours cleaning the house and then walk into your child's bedroom to find an explosion of toys? Ever react and get upset when that happens? (It’s not just me, right?)
Or, what about at the end of a long day when your partner comes home and crashes on the couch while you clean up dinner and think about the million little things that need to be done before you finally go to bed? Tell me I’m the only one who passive-aggressively closes the cabinets just a little too loud from time to time?
Or maybe you sigh in exasperation as your toddler knocks over the bowl of dry ingredients for the chocolate chip cookies but a moment later tell them to turn to the camera so you can post a picture on social media of the grand ol’ time you're having?
When we spend our time desperately chasing perfection but don’t quite capture it, it can be easy to lose control over our emotions. Perfection is passion, an ideal that makes us feel so strongly about the matters of our hearts that we might act in ways that make us later feel less than, like we will never quite measure up.
We strive for perfection but at what expense?
Because here's the thing: If perfection is what we’re striving for in motherhood, then we are totally missing the point. We can call it quits on trailing behind our tiny tornadoes, picking up every toy they leave in their wake, and instead join them in their animal parade. We can put off the dishes for 15 minutes, recap the day while we relax with our partner on said sofa and then divide-and-conquer the final evening chores. We can enjoy having a messy table with dear friends around it, rather then waiting for the moment when there's time to make our homes look Pinterest-perfect. (Spoiler alert: It will never happen.) Our journey through motherhood should be about connection—with our friends, with our family, and with our community—not perfection.
I am behind on laundry and my house is messy because I haven’t had time to clean it. Is my 6-year-old really burdened because the laundry is piled up? Probably not. (Unless you consider that my 6-year-old really wants to wear the same pair of Sonic the Hedgehog pajamas every night and if they're dirty he can't—but I don’t really think of that as a burden per se.)
Though it's easy to compare ourselves with others, the habit is nothing but trouble. Because no matter what there's always going to be someone more (fill-in-the-blank) than you. But you know who doesn’t care about that? Your children. The greatest gift you can offer to them is being exactly who you are and connecting with them on a deeper level. (Also, your best friend probably doesn't care, either, and is likely relieved and validated to find, when she and her little one come over for a play date, that you're also behind on laundry.)
Connection is a value that's in short supply these days. So love deeply and give of your time freely. And most of all be yourself—your real self.
Because perfect is boring.