Answer: Don’t be perfect.
Today I told my 2 year old that if he left me alone he could have a marshmallow.
This evening I overheard Simon telling the kids in the bath “If you don’t stop fighting right now, Mom and I are leaving!”
Last week I quickly did Graces’ homework myself at 6:50 before we rushed out the door to school. I am pretty sure she will still be able to identify the letter “d” before the end of Grade 0.
I even smacked Frankie in a busy parking lot outside the doctors rooms because, well, I was so fucking stressed and had not had a good nights sleep in a week. Her 20 minute long tantrum for another sweet was the protagonist… but the problem was my own mental state that day. I could not be perfect that day and many other days.
I can’t count the amount of times I’ve lost my cool or even used the “F” word directly and loudly whilst losing this illusive “cool”.
Here’s a funny video of Harry using one of my favourite words.
Not one of those examples would make it into a parenting handbook.
But becoming a mother at the exact same time that I was losing mine, meant that I put her on a pedestal. I tried to remember every single thing I could that made her such an incredible mother to me growing up. And there are so many fine examples of her infinite wisdom that I draw on every day. But when I am losing it, and have had it up to my eyeballs with balancing work and life and parenting and my own inadequacies, it’s her weaknesses that make me feel completely and utterly okay. It’s that time she threw the hairbrush at my brother and it missed and hit the mirror that make me know that I can be imperfect and my kids will still be okay. Because I am okay. I was loved. I was respected. I was cherished.
My mother was a parenting goddess, ask any of my friends or cousins who knew her when we were growing up. But she wasn’t called Imvuthusa by the Zulus on our farm for no reason!
Our kids do not need perfect. They need reality.
They need a role model who teaches kindness and acceptance.
They need to see respect in the home between whoever lives or works there.
They need boundaries and love and a big enveloping hug when life gets hard.
They need to learn what to do when a stranger approaches them or that swimming pools are danger!
One day when my kids are parents… I hope they can forgive themselves easily when they crack and have a bad parenting moment. Because, my god, remembering Mem Holley’s imperfections make me feel so infinitely better about myself as I juggle life with three kids.
So thanks mum. For being so incredibly loving and accepting… and for being so completely imperfect also.