My daughter is 5. And already I can see the elder child tendencies beginning.
She has very high expectations of herself.
The colors cannot go outside of the lines. The paper cannot be wrinkled. Heaven forbid if the markers bleed through to the next page. In her frustration she tenses up and screams, “It’s not good!!”
And she’s incredibly sensitive.
So, when she gets in trouble, I hear her say to herself, “I can’t be good” or “I’m a bad girl”. Which absolutely tears my heart out.
Because, let me tell you, she is a very, very good girl. So good that I can’t believe she’s related to me.
I hear my sweet girl say that she can’t be good – and what she means is that she can’t be perfect. She can’t help herself from doing those things she knows she shouldn’t do. She is so hard on herself – just can’t give herself a break – can’t give herself a little bit of grace.
She’s 5, mind you.
As a mom, I beat myself up that I don’t feed my girls all the right things. That I can’t stay on top of the laundry. That I don’t know how to decorate my house like people do in magazines. I fully expect to be able to work a full-time job, come home and spend hours on end playing and laughing with my children while cooking a meal that Martha would be proud of while folding underwear and scrubbing the toilets. I’m not kidding, I expect myself to be able to do that.
When Emma colors outside of the lines and gets upset, I tell her, “it’s okay to color outside of the lines, it doesn’t have to be perfect – in fact, I really love all the colors you chose.”
When she makes a bad choice and is angry with herself I tell her that she’s a very good girl. And that she can learn and make better choices next time.
She doesn’t get it. And apparently, neither do I.
Several months ago, I wrote a post called, “If you were my kid . . . ”
I guess I could call this one, “If I were my kid . . . ”
And I would say . . .
If I were my kid, I’d tell me that it’s okay to color outside of the lines. That the laundry will pile up sometimes and make me feel like a crazy person – but that at the end of the day it’s better that I spent 30 minutes snuggling with my girls on the couch than sorting socks. I would tell me that it’s okay that they ate chicken nuggets again. Or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich again. Or even hot dogs. Or mac & cheese. (Okay, so maybe that’s an area I need to work on a little harder.)
If I were my kid, I would tell me that I cannot do it all. And I don’t have to. And that no one is expecting me to do it all – no one except myself. So, get over it.
Life won’t be perfect.
I won’t look like Heather Locklear when I’m 50.
My house won’t look like it just had a photo shoot from Southern Living.
And that’s okay. Because I love my life. I love my beautiful, smart, imperfect children. And I love my talented, handsome, amazing, imperfect husband.
And today, I might just give myself permission to accept my imperfect self. And hopefully that will rub off on my kids.