Letting go of unrealistic expectations is the most perfect thing we can do in parenting

You know that feeling inside when you’ve reached your limit? You just want to give up. But you don’t because your children are looking up at you in that moment and they need you. Need you to make dinner or change their diaper or give them a hug or a ride to swimming practice.

Some of the overwhelm we feel comes from unrealistic expectations that we have set. Trying to do too much. Measuring or comparing ourselves instead of just accepting. Striving for an outward perfection that only exists in our heads and isn’t even attainable.

“For women, shame is: do it all, do it perfectly, and never let them see you sweat. A bunch of unattainable competing, conflicting expectations.”  – Brene Brown in Gifts of Imperfection.

Sometimes we are so caught up in our thoughts that we don’t even realize we are striving for competing, unattainable things. Motherhood brings on crazy feelings like this, but it also teaches us that feeling this way is crazy.

My children teach me to feel differently. Here are ways in which my children taught me to look at perfect differently. What if perfect is:

Growing stronger through the tough moments and trusting I can get through anything.

Experiencing moments as my own, and not judging them as better or worse that someone’s else’s experience.

Choosing to be kind to myself. Knowing I can only be kind to others if I am kind to myself.

Doing what is feels right for me, knowing that looking within is the only place I’ll find it.

Knowing that with each difficult moment comes far more moments of joy and love.

Choosing to do things everyday that fill me up so I can center myself and control my reactions.

Believing that I too deserve compassion, and know its okay to ask for help and take some time for myself.

Recognizing feelings of overwhelm coming from unrealistic expectations and resetting them.

Believing that I am enough right now in this moment and so are my children.

Being present so I don’t miss any of the beauty unfolding in front of me.

What if we reset our expectations of what perfect is? What if we were as kind to ourselves as we are to our children are to us?

Our children are our greatest teachers because they love us as we are. They love us even when the house is messy or the meeting went poorly and we didn’t make the time for them. They challenge us to be more present. To choose love. To enjoy little things. To make a different choice.

The best thing we can give to them is what they give to us everyday. Unconditional love.They show us their true, emotional, and authentic selves. They love whole and open up. They are emotional and they experience every up and down fully and then move on.

When I’m feeling overwhelmed, their presence, joy and unconditional love helps me snap out of it. So my responsibility as their parent is to do the same for them. Give them my presence and unconditional love. Even when they are in the midst of tough moments of big emotions that I don’t understand or even feel embarrassed about. That is when I need to recheck myself and make sure I’m choosing love and kindness as they do for me.

Parenting has taught that even the tough, uncomfortable moments are perfect. They are perfect because they bring out parts of us that need to grow.

Where there is growth there is movement. Where there is movement, there is meaning. Where there is meaning there is love.

Parenting teaching me to reset expectations when I'm feeling overwhelmed

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