Today is the day that I choose to stop chasing perfection. Up until this moment, I thought perfection in parenthood was somehow attainable, that I just hadn't stumbled upon the right combination of books and theories that would mesh with your personality, and WHAMM-O, we'd be floating in a blissful sea of peaceful Kodak moments. You would consume all veggies lovingly steamed and placed on your plate, there would be no fights or forced buckling into the stroller, I would be calm and serene as the Madonna with child. (Ok, maybe it was a smidge unrealistic and/or blasphemous to compare you to the Christ child.)
I don't know why I have to keep re-learning this lesson, that there is no such thing as perfection, at least not on this planet. I've attempted to hit this moving target in every realm of my life, failed of course, bemoaned and berated myself for things not humanly possible, then accepted my shortcomings and moved forward. Yet, kind of like a glass of wine to an alcoholic, avoiding the quest for perfection is something that I will battle until the end of my days; I'll be like those waiters on the Titanic, rearranging the place settings.
However, parenthood seemed like something that I could not afford to half-a**, that your entire future seemed somehow pinned on the number of hours I spent reading to you, every nutrient you consumed from ages 0-5, every syllable you heard. That each time I raised my voice at you, I was irrevocably destroying a piece of your very being, burning trauma on your little heart. Or each time I let something slide, I was sealing your fate as a sociopath in a maximum security prison. So I've been reading all the books, studying and comparing all my mommy friends, trying to glean advice from websites, doctors, and what-have-you. But the thing is, no one has THE answer, because seeking perfection is like hunting the end of the rainbow. I think I've spent too much time looking for my pot of gold and missed seeing you, treasuring us just the way we are, realizing that your future is in your own hands, that I can only lay the groundwork. That by dragging you on this never-ending fruitless quest, I am causing you more pain and damage than you could ever get by eating too many carbs or watching an extra video. I don't want you to be a rainbow-chaser like me. I want you to stop and notice the beauty of the rainbow and see the beauty in your own self, flaws and all.
I will never be a perfect Mommy. You will never be a perfect child (amazing, incredible, intelligent, yes, but not perfect). We will disappoint each other. We will yell at each other. I will drink my Diet Coke and occasionally skip breakfast, and you will eat more Goldfish crackers than peas. But we can be the best we can be with what we have. We can teach each other. We can learn from our mistakes. We can forgive each other. We can forgive ourselves. We can take peace and joy in the fleeting moments where our love trumps our imperfection. We can survive all the trials and disappointments, because you could never make me stop loving you.