I am a perfectionist to a fault, and this was my biggest challenge when becoming a mom. There is no “perfect” baby, outing, sippy cup, sleep schedule, or day. No matter how much I planned, I was always caught off guard as a new mom. “I used my spare pair of clothes already, and we have another poop explosion, what?!”
I had to learn and am still learning that you have to let these imperfect moments go and roll off your back. I can’t tell you how many outings I ruined for myself as a brand new mom, because I let an outfit malfunction or not packing the right amount of snack pouches cloud the actual fun activity at hand. It use to drive my husband crazy. He would always say, “You’re a great mom, who cares if you forgot the antibacterial wipes this one time! Our son will survive! Enjoy the moment.”
For me, letting go of this perfection is letting go of control. You can’t control anything with a baby, so don’t try. I found this control issue worsen as I went back to work and our new nanny started. She was fabulous. She had many more years of experience than I did with a little one. They say that moms know best. True, but looking back, I am pretty sure she probably knew what was best, even though she never over-stepped her place. This was a challenge for me–someone else in my house making decisions for my baby. I had to let go. I had to let her choose what snack pouch to pack on their daily outings or what outfit to dress my little guy in, because otherwise I would have gone crazy. At the end of the day, those little decisions don’t mean anything as long as your child is happy and safe.
A friend of mine once said to me, “My nanny is great, but I don’t let her help me as much as I should.” I say the same thing to myself sometimes. I think this is so common with moms. It’s ok to have someone else help you. It’s ok to let go of the control. The dishes may not be loaded perfectly in the dishwasher the way you like them, but who cares, they are getting washed!
To paraphrase Sheryl Sandberg (big fan) in her bestseller, Lean In: Don’t correct your husband when he is changing diapers, he will learn on his own from his mistakes. Be happy he is helping! This always makes me laugh, because I can’t tell you how many times I stood over my husband as he changed our son’s diaper. “No, like this!” A Control Freak, Perfectionist and Crazy Mommy (even with the best intentions) is still a bad combination!
Now on bed rest awaiting our second son, (who keeps trying to come prematurely), I have no control. We flew my mom out to help us, and I had to completely let go. Because of my contractions, I can’t do anything to take care of my toddler right now except give snuggles in bed and read books. Can you imagine? It’s been frustrating but good for me. I do feel like I have grown a little, as I was hit in the face with my biggest weakness. Maybe this is a great way of preparing for another child, another set of wonderful challenges and imperfect moments. Did I mention that those imperfect moments will be awesome… if I let go and enjoy them!