‘Your kids don’t need perfection. They just need you.’: Mom urges others to ditch mom guilt, accept ‘imperfection is truly perfection’

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“I suffer from something all moms suffer from: Crippling mom guilt. You know that moment at the end of the day where you feel like everything is going to fall apart because you’re so exhausted, so tired of being touched all day, but your kids are choosing this exact moment to throw a tantrum that rivals the heights of the Eiffel Tower?

Yeah, that’s usually when I lose it. I might be snappy, I might raise my voice, or I might not give quite as many snuggles that night. But the moment they close their eyes, I’m overcome with horrible mom guilt. I should’ve been nicer, I should’ve listened to their silly jokes, and I shouldn’t have gotten mad that they refused to brush their teeth. We all feel like this.

And I highly doubt it goes away when our kids grow up. If you’re a parent of teens, you probably feel like you shouldn’t have said some things to them, you shouldn’t have gotten as mad when they made a mistake, and you should cherish the time you have with them, even if it feels like hugging a porcupine.

mom sits on couch while working on her laptop with her son also sitting on her lap
Courtesy of Jess Carpenter

On the daily, parents struggle with the fact we aren’t perfect. We want our kids to look up to us, and we’re willing to sacrifice so much of ourselves to act like we are perfect. We see other moms on Instagram and Facebook acting like they have their life perfectly planned. Their homes are clean, they make desserts Martha Stewart would be proud of, and their holidays look like they’re straight out of a magazine.

It’s easy to feel inferior when we’re looking at the highlight reel of everyone’s lives. And then we feel even more guilty. Why can’t we provide that for our kids? Why do we feel like we’re drowning when they’re clearly thriving? And then there’s the dark thoughts of… would my kids be happier with a parent like that?

Let me just answer really quick: NO! Absolutely not. 100% no.

mother sits next to her daughter while the girl kisses her cheek, mom smiles
Courtesy of Jess Carpenter

Your kids don’t need perfection. They just need you.

They need you to be present, flaws and all. They don’t care whether your hair is a mess, if you’re not the best baker in the world, or if you can’t string together anything more than boxed mac-n-cheese. Kids aren’t wishing for magazine-style living. They don’t care if you snuggle with them on the couch watching TV or if you play with the two Barbies in your home.

dad floats in the water while holding his daughter at his side
Courtesy of Jess Carpenter

Believe it or not, kids are just fine with the necessities. Seriously, they don’t have to live in a Pinterest-worthy home.

Kids need love. And to them, love is spelled t-i-m-e. It doesn’t matter what it is, or if you think you’re the worst, they just need you to spend some time with them doing something together. I know how it feels to think you have to do everything possible to be the best parent. And if that’s what you’re striving for, let me just tell you, you’re already an amazing mom. You might not feel like it, and you may worry your kids are going to hate you because you yelled at them that one time, but I promise, they love you. They think you’re amazing, and you’re truly their world. Just like they’re your world.

mom and dad hold their son and daughter while standing on the beach in front of the ocean
Courtesy of Jess Carpenter

So, if you feel like you have to be perfect, take a deep breath, you don’t. I know there’s a ton of anxiety surrounding motherhood and rearing children. I’ve experienced it myself. And though it doesn’t help to tell someone with anxiety to ‘relax’ or ‘get over it,’ I just want to say your experience is valid, and your kids truly love you no matter what your anxious thoughts are telling you.

You’re a parent, which is incredibly hard. It’s draining, it takes everything out of you, and it’s also the best job in the world. With everything that’s happened the last couple of years, we are all feeling it. We’re all in over our heads, and I doubt any of us feel like perfect parents right now.

But, in the world of parenting, imperfection truly is perfection. Those flaws you think you have are what make your kids love you even more. I think back to my own mother and the funny things she did that probably weren’t ‘perfect’ in her eyes. But to me? They were.

siblings, brother and sister, sit on a boat with life jackets on
Courtesy of Jess Carpenter

You are your child’s everything — even if they’re throwing a tantrum and saying, ‘You’re the worst mom ever.’ (I’ve totally gotten that, by the way. It was because I said she couldn’t stand up on the countertop.) So, yes, you’re probably not perfect. Nobody is. You probably have flaws, your kids will probably point them out (especially if they’re teens), and you’re going to feel some mom guilt and inadequacy.

But worry as little as possible because deep down, whether you’re an Amazon Prime mom or DIY mom or neither of those and just trying to survive mom, in your kids’ eyes, you are the most amazing person in the world. It may not always seem like that, and the days are going to be long and hard, but I promise, you’re doing alright, mama.”

siblings, brother and sister, sit on the playground and pose for a picture
Courtesy of Jess Carpenter

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jess Carpenter. You can follow her journey on Instagram, TikTok, and on her website. You can visit Jess’ author page here and buy her new book hereSubmit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Jess here: 

‘Your kids want to see how amazing you are. They need to see you reach your goals.’: Mom shares important reminder not to put off your dreams

‘I preach body positivity and talk about embracing flaws, but the second I look at myself, all that goes out the window.’: Mom shares journey accepting and loving her body

‘I’m just tired. I don’t need someone to fix it, or tell me it gets better, or that these days are short. I know.’: Young mom candidly shares exhaustion, guilt she feels because of it

‘You don’t have to look at your life through someone else’s hardship-lens. Your feelings are valid.’: Mom shares importance of accepting emotions, ‘It’s OK to be sad’

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