No More Perfect Kids – Post 1 (by Kim Jansen)

A tendency toward perfection invaded my motherhood even before I brought my first born home from the hospital. I was determined to have a “natural” childbirth. No interventions. No meds.

Two weeks past my due date, however, our bundle of joy had yet to arrive. I reluctantly allowed my doctor to break my water. “Ok,” I thought, “I can still do this.”

Fast forward 18 hours, with very little progress and one tired mama. The doc pulled my husband aside and suggested a narcotic to take the edge off my pain. Without it, he feared labor would end in an emergency c-section. I whined and wailed at the prospect of any anesthetic – as if somehow labor was a test, and I had failed. Thankfully, I acquiesced, and 30 minutes later (plus one phone call to a local community of nuns asking for prayers), I was ready to deliver! What relief! What joy! The love swelling up in my heart cast aside all my doubts…for a little while.

When we brought our newborn home, I dove into all the parenting books. I was determined to be the best mother. But I was anxious. And he cried. A lot. My baby’s frequent tears and erratic sleeping patterns left me feeling helpless and inadequate. This wasn’t what I signed up for!

The first chapter of “No More Perfect Kids” begins with a similar story. Jill recalls waking to care for her newborn for the umpteenth time, thinking about her best friend whose baby slept through the night.

“I dreamed of cuddling my adored first baby, not of standing outside her bedroom door, exhausted, weeping along with her in frustration,” she writes. “I was a new mom, and already my expectations for my first child were getting tangled up with comparisons and disappointments.”

Jill continued to notice this phenomenon as her children grew. She would have preferred to sit next to her son on the piano bench rather than on the sidelines of a soccer game. Although she hated fashion & shopping, they were her daughter’s primary interests.

“Every parent does it,” she says. “Before kids, we dreamed about what our family would look like…We decided – in our mind – who our children would be.

“And then we had kids.”

Temperaments, interests, talents, struggles, developmental delays, medical conditions…the list is long with ways our imaginary kids differ from our actual kids. But, at some point, we must come “face-to-face with putting fantasy aside and embracing reality.”

The following questions from Chapter 1 pierced my heart to the core:

“And then we had kids.”

Temperaments, interests, talents, struggles, developmental delays, medical conditions…the list is long with ways our imaginary kids differ from our actual kids. But, at some point, we must come “face-to-face with putting fantasy aside and embracing reality.”

The following questions from Chapter 1 pierced my heart to the core:

“And then we had kids.”

Temperaments, interests, talents, struggles, developmental delays, medical conditions…the list is long with ways our imaginary kids differ from our actual kids. But, at some point, we must come “face-to-face with putting fantasy aside and embracing reality.”

The following questions from Chapter 1 pierced my heart to the core:

“How do I guide & lead a child I sometimes don’t understand?”

“How do I love the infant, child, teenager, or young adult I have right here in front of me and not wish she was any different?”

“How can I delight in how he is created even though it’s different from what I imagined?”

“How do I inspire and encourage but not expect perfection from my child?”

Wow! This is the kind of mom I aspire to be. But where do I start?

According to Jill and Kathy, the first step is developing a “Come to Momma” attitude.

When a baby is learning to crawl and then walk, parents stand close by with arms outstretched, a broad smile, and an encouraging tone of voice. Although there will be many falls and missteps, we don’t see these as mistakes. We celebrate every attempt, “because we’re looking for progress, not perfection – for growth, not completion.”

I love how Jill sees this same dynamic in her older children… “When I watch my ten-month-old granddaughter pulling herself up and walking around the furniture, I realize she’s not that much different from my teenage sons still at home looking for progress in the form of independence.”

This “Come to Momma” perspective cultivates the following ways of relating to our children, no matter their age:

“What if we expect them to stumble along the way and we didn’t consider that stumble a mistake?”

“What if our arms reach toward our children, not folded in front of us?

What if we had an encouraging, optimistic tone in our voices, issuing a request…not demands they can’t live up to?

Again, ouch! What an incredible challenge! I look forward to putting this into practice at home and to learning more about the antidotes to “Perfection Infection.” Stay tuned!

Leave a Reply

Close Menu