The Myth of the Perfect Parent
I say, “Embrace the imperfection.”
By Sky Izaddoost, M.D.
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Primary Care
Alon Town Centre
Every mommy has secrets. The first secret: We don’t always have it together. With the advent of social media, idealized parenting has become warped into a competition of who can do it better. We post pictures of our perfectly breastfed angels in our perfectly clean home with the homemade Pinterest cookies.
Unfortunately, this perfection is an intermittent occurrence, not an accurate representation of what parenting should be.
By far, first time mothers feel the guilt of not being flawless. I witness the tears daily from wonderful parents who think they are not keeping up with their friends and neighbors. They don’t know the struggle to be intermittently perfect.
As a pediatrician, I know the benefits of breastfeeding. As a working mother who pumped at work, I know the daily struggle. Not all mothers can breastfeed. Sometimes, it is just not in the cards. Every mother feels immense guilt when their supply dwindles or they are left with giving formula. Mothers cry while someone else feeds her child. It is perceived as the greatest of failures. Don’t feel guilty for feeding your child.
The second secret: The mother who cannot feed her child from the breast has done nothing wrong. She is a loving and caring mother just the same.
Working moms. I am a bit biased to the working mom since that is what I am. The mommy guilt peaks when I drop off my kids at daycare and they cry for me, or worse when they do not. I pray that one day my kids will understand, as I do when looking back on my childhood.
My mother worked. She missed my fifth grade play where I had the lead role because she got stuck at work. I remember the look on her face: completely defeated. But I always felt loved. I was always loved. My mom made the most of the time we spent together.
Just because I am not home with them does not mean I love them less or am a bad mommy. I need to remind myself of that constantly. I am not losing at parenting because my kids go to daycare. You have to do what is right for you and your kids: reduce mommy guilt.
The third secret: I am a winning parent for working away from home.
My best friend is a domestic engineer. By far, being a stay at home mom (SAHM) is the hardest job there is. I commend my friend for teaching, playing, and keeping her cool with her children all day long.
With all parenting there are glorious days when you feel like Supermom – cape and all. Then, there are days when you think: we just survived. Some believe the SAHM is lazy. This is nowhere CLOSE to being true. These women and men work hard. They deserve our respect, too. They are left with the guilt of staying home and being financially dependent on someone else.
The fourth secret: My friend is a winning parent for staying at home.
Whether you are a new parent or have a few kids under your belt, you know the constant guilt of not being perfect. I say, “Embrace the imperfection.” You are an awesome mommy or daddy to your kids and no one else needs to judge.
Dr. Sky Izaddoost is a primary care pediatrician and part of The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Primary Care network of clinics. Her practice is located on the Northwest side in the Alon Town Centre. If you need a pediatrician for your child, visit this page.