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June 28, 2013

A Perfect parent? don't make me laugh

"Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from."
Imperfect parenting. the subject made me think of this quote from The Matrix, mainly because I am a geek at heart so my references are always so... Geeky. 
But also, because Imperfect implies the existence of Perfect. When you stop and think about it, talking about Imperfect Parenting is actually like saying "yes, there is Perfect Parenting out there, and I am not it". 
Is there really a set of criteria, of rules, that defines what and who is a perfect mother? I googled it, but couldn't find one. I did find so many articles, photos and sayings that tried to convince me that it's okay to not be Perfect. 
Parenting is the only area in life in which we try, constantly, to be perfect. We accept that there is no "perfect" for anything else in our life, there is, after all no such thing as the perfect wife, or the perfect worker, or the perfect daughter, or the perfect boss, or the perfect friend, or the perfect customer, is your husband perfect? are your children perfect? are your parents perfect? You get my drift. Because non of us is perfect, because there is no Perfect. There is no universal set of criteria that makes for a Perfect Human Being.
What makes parenting different than all the other areas of life, is it the way parenting is portrayed in the media? or maybe the fact that people feel they "give up so much" to have kids so they have to make it perfect? or maybe it the silent competition all parents have - who is better, whose child is smarter, who has it tougher, who sacrificed more, you name it - it's in the competition? maybe it's because of the feeling that after we have kids our entire self-definition becomes dependant on them, we are "only" parents? or maybe it the fear, the fear that everything we do could be the wrong thing, and could hamper our child's future?
I think all of it tantamount to pressure, to the enormous parenting-pressure people are under even before they become parents. I think it's especially true today because the average age for having the first child is around 30, and the decision when to start a family is a more conscious one, it is more than just "oh, let's have a baby because we feel like it". There are advantages to being more cautious, more organised, more conscious about the prices you pay and the changes in your lives that having a child brings with it. There are also disadvantages, and one of them is a higher dose of what I fondly call The Fantasy of the Perfect. You know, that image you get in your minds-eye, that mystified look, the How It Should Be picture you painted for yourself. It sets the bar too high. There is no way but to fail and fall.
It makes parenting, and life, harder than it should be.
That is why, for my post about imperfect parenting I chose to tell you about all the ways in which I am the perfect poster girl for an imperfect parent.
I know some of the people reading this will leave this post with a "what a bad mother" chuckle, or a "poor kids" look, and it's perfectly fine by me. You know why? Because I am out of the parents-competition, because I will probably say the same about you, and because as I am weird this way and it will probably only make me satisfied to hear. let's start then, shall we?
Orli, Just Breathe - A Perfect parent? don't make me laugh
The poor kids
If you want to start from the really early stages - my two boys weren't breastfed, they slept in their own bed in their own room from the beginning, they ate store bought baby-food and not homemade, they watched TV from when they were tiny.
Fast forward to today, I don't do "positive parenting", I don't do "democratic parenting" and I don't do "I am your best friend parenting".
I don't like sports. Especially football. I do make an effort, otherwise I have almost nothing in common with Ron, but really-honestly-privately I honest to God hate sports.
I don't like playing sports. All that running around? Not gonna happen. Either play with daddy or play on the iPhone.
I don't like parks, I don't like Zoos, I absolutely hate picnics, BBQs, petting-zoos, ant-farms, etc. Basically everything to do with nature is a big (BIG) no-no.
I don't do bedtimes. If Hidai isn't here the kids are usually on a "no need for a shower kids, just brush your teeth and go to bed. Let's make it an early bedtime" routine. If I have to, they will get a quick wash, and not the elaborate splash-in-the-tub they get with daddy.
I don't read them stories before bed. I don't read them stories every day. I don't read with Ron at all anymore. Yon gets stories if he asks for them. And if I can't get Ron to read them to him.
I don't bake / cook with them. I take my baking very seriously, but not as serious as Ron who won't let me put 203 grams of sugar if it says 200 grams in the recipe. Even if I swear to him that it's okay. Even if I beg.
I don't do arts & crafts. Ron thinks creative activities is punishment, and Yon just wants to take everything and use it in some weird imaginary and elaborate game, that has something to do with animals.
I have a competitive streak.
I shout. and yell. and scream. and slam doors.
My house is not always clean (though it is always tidy).
I use swear-words (sometimes, when I don't pay attention)
I let my children eat junk food. 
I don't play with them every afternoon.
I let them play on the WII, iPad and iPhone so I could get some more time to write.
I hide the chocolate and eat it after they are in bed.
I never volunteer for anything in school.
I'm sure I could find some more examples if these ones aren't enough, and now whenever you think you aren't perfect you could always revisit my list and feel good that about yourself, because hey! there is someone less perfect!
Perfect is not only an illusion, it's also pretty damn boring. Who even wants perfect?



8 comments:

  1. Good question, We will never achieve perfect so why even bother, just do our best and love our kids, that si about it as far as I am concernend. Mich x

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    1. Exactly right Michelle! There is no such thing as perfection, and we are killing ourselves trying to achieve something that can't be achieved... Lets all just stop trying and love our kids :)

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  2. Excellent post! I'd worry that the so-called "perfect parent" would be so sterile and characterless they'd have no personality to give their children.

    My wife and I used to laugh when she was pregnant at the pictures of the "perfect parents" in the pregnancy magazines - the father standing behind the expectant mother, 4 hands on the tummy, and all staring at the perfect cot in the perfectly decorated nursery with all the perfect toys. Such imagery is so fake!! The perfect parent is the real (imperfect) one!

    Love your reference to the matrix! Maybe perfect parents are "spoons" - There is no spoon!!

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    1. Loved you comment! Thank you very much for writing it, and for referencing the Matrix. I am not the only geek here :)

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  3. Great post Orli! Lets face it perfection and parenthood just do NOT go in the same sentence... anyone trying to achieve this state needs to seriously lower their expectations xx

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    1. It's true, perfection and parenting really don't go hand in hand. It's just setting yourself up for failure.
      Thanks for reading and commenting! xx

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  4. Brilliant, loved your honesty. Fantastic piece. Runs parallel with my The Good Enough Mums post in Michell's Carnival thing, but i wrote it a while back so didn't do this fab list of yours about how 'imperfect' you were. Bet your kids are happy though?! Good Enough Mum kids are happier than the obsessive compulsive ones as you'll see from my post. Thanks for being so honest. I'm gonna have to write one like this me thinks! S

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    1. I read your post today as part of the Carnival thing! I loved it! I am going to put a link to it here, so others could read it too - http://www.everyoneelseisnormal.com/2012/10/the-good-enough-mums/
      I agree wholeheartedly with every word you wrote.
      Making the imperfect list was great fun, it's just that after I was done I remembered so many other things that should have been there...
      Oh well. There is always next year :)

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