This image says so much to me. It makes me stop and marvel at what really happens during the nine months of pregnancy. Two tiny cells meet and less than a year later, a whole brand new human being comes through a woman’s body and into this world. Amazing! Not only did you just give birth to a whole new life, but you gave birth to a whole new life of parenting, too.
It’s too easy for us as new parents to forget that we’re miracles, too! That we were once just like our own little newborns: full of wonder, fresh and young, we looked at the world and all that was in it with awe. We gazed up at our parents and thought, “They’re pretty spectacular! If I cry, they come to see what’s up! They change my nasty diapers and feed me this delicious stuff called milk! They cuddle me and talk softly and kiss me all the time. Man, I lucked out in the parenting department!”
As we begin our own parenting journey, we can become become anxious about trying to do it all perfectly. But the idea of “Parenting Perfection” needs to be dropped pretty quickly, or it will destroy you! There’s no such thing as parenting perfection.
Merriam Webster defines perfection as: something that cannot be improved.
Ugh. I would hope that my day-to-day parenting would always allow for improvement. That way, I can cut myself a little bit of slack on the days that don’t go so well. I can take a deep breath and try to remember that I haven’t done this thing before. Parenting a newborn is really one of the hardest jobs ever. Why? It’s totally on-the-job training. It’s super helpful to go to some classes and read some books, but honestly? The only way you’re going to learn how to be a parent, is by actually being a parent. Plus, it never ends. It’s not like you work an 8 or even a 12 hour shift. It’s round the clock hours with very few breaks – especially when you’re the new guy!
It’s dirty, stinky work and it’ll be at least 3 months before your “boss” starts to give you any feedback that you’re doing a good job. Your “co-worker” is also incredibly tired and cranky – and no matter what you might think – as clueless as you are about how this is all supposed to work! Your life, as you once knew it, has completely turned upside down and it’ll take awhile before you can claim anything to be your “new normal.” (More about this in tomorrow’s post. Stay tuned.)
But when you find yourself doubting your abilities as a new parent, it’s good to remember that you were once a newborn too – entrusted to your own set of parents, and while they may not have been anything close to perfection in the parenting department, you made it through okay. Here you are ready to try your own hand at this.
I hope there’s both relief and humility in this realization. At once, you understand what your parents went through as they tried their very hardest to do their best job of parenting you, and it gives you more than a little bit of wiggle room to figure it out on your own without having to strive for perfection.
Each day is a chance to improve upon the swaddle, the latch, the baby bath. Each day is a chance to let go of perfection and instead embrace wonder, to see the world through your baby’s eyes – a world that is new and fresh and full of awe. Remember, your baby gazes at you and thinks, “Man, I have totally lucked out in the parenting department!”
You’ve been entrusted with this new life. Your life as a family is also new. It will never be perfect, and that’s okay. Perfection is not real, and the illusion of it? Way overrated. So parent well – sometimes, maybe just good enough – and feel secure in the knowledge that no one else has ever done this thing perfectly either. Whew! What a relief!
What issues with perfection did you have about becoming a parent? When did you realize that no one holds the monopoly on this parenting gig, that no one is doing it perfectly?