Give Yourself Permission to be Imperfect
I have a confession. It's something that I'm not ashamed of. It's just something that I feel defines the kind of person that I am: I do not dye Easter Eggs with my kids. I have not dyed Easter eggs for years, in fact. I don't know when I stopped. It had to have been 4 or 5 years ago, but I did. And I've never really looked back.
Now before you get all judgey on me, I'd like you to know that I am a Christian. I am God-Fearing, and I love Jesus Christ. I'd also like to note that I am a good mom. I'm a mom of five kids, and I love them with all my heart. Most everything I do revolves around them, and I love that right now they define a large part of who I am. And that's the key to this thought. I let them define me, I let myself define me, but I do not let the world, social media, or even Pinterest define me.
Today, it seems like there is so much pressure for moms and women in general to be their best selves, and then to make sure that it's fully documented and published for the world to see. It's not fair to put everyone's best days against our most average days. It's not healthy. I am a photographer. I am most fortunate to see lots of families in my line of work. I think capturing the love of a family is beautiful. I do a lot of family and child portraiture and know that women are by far the hardest people to impress when I post a gallery. They are so critical of themselves.
Take the pressure off and just embrace where you are at. Does that mean give up and not do your best? No. It does mean that you keep trying and keep away from the trap of comparing yourself with others.
When I became a mother almost twelve years ago, I was having trouble with nursing a screaming baby girl, and at the time, my mother gave me some sound advice that I've always remembered. She said, “Meggan, give yourself permission to not be perfect.” It has stuck and while I know that I'm not the size I want to be, and there are so many days that I fall short of my personal goals, there are also so many days that I do things right. Celebrate those small victories.
A few weeks ago, my son who is in Kindergarten brought home his first illustrated story. It was a story about one of his classmates and he was so proud. I praised him on his good hand writing and great pictures. I was really impressed. My older son, who is in third grade, grabbed his paper, and also a blue Sharpie marker and announced he was going to grade it. I was immediately horrified. My kindergartener also looked horrified. I jumped in and told him that we were not going to grade it, we just get to enjoy it. Grading it was the teachers job. My third grader with all seriousness said, “It's okay mom, I was gonna give him an 80%.” After rolling my eyes and consoling my kindergartener, having to reassure him that he really did a great job, it got me thinking. How often are we quick to judge others? Isn't it all too easy to want to give another person an 80%? What if they were just doing their best?
I don't dye Easter eggs, because it's a big mess, I hate boiling eggs, and the thought of finding one forgotten in the yard or house weeks later grosses me out. I also don't pretend that a leprechaun visits at St Patricks Day, and I am completely okay with that. Be you and don't be afraid to do life your own way.
We have a responsibility as a society to be more gentle with ourselves. We should give ourselves permission to not be perfect. We should extend that same courtesy to our neighbors. The world would by far be a better place.