I’m done setting unrealistic expectations for myself as a mom

I just want a butt like J-Lo.

A house, garden, and marriage, like Chip and Jo Jo.

Hair like this girl I saw on Pinterest one time.

Skin like Kerry Washington. Does she even age???

To cook like my sister.

To have the patience of Mr. Rogers.

The humor of Kristen Bell.

The parenting skills and prowess of every expert ever.

To buy all organic groceries.

But to reduce my grocery bill by 50%.

The clothing genius of Hello Fashion Blog on Instagram.

To be fit and strong like Jillian Michaels.

But to not give a rip about those things like Mother Theresa.

I want to teach my kids to be fearless and that they can do ANYTHING.

But I want to control it so they never ever get hurt or scare me ever.

All while coming across as "chill," "fun," and eating a slice of pepperoni pizza two times the size of my face.



"The only thing worse than this unattainable standard is the guilt that follows when perfection proves impossible. Sister, what could be crazier than a woman who wakes children up before dawn, feeds and waters them while listening and affirming all their chatter, gets them dressed and off to school with signed papers,then perhaps heads to a job to put food on the table or stays home to raise littles who cannot even wipe, completes one million domestic chores that multiply like gremlins, breaks up fourty-four fights, intentionally disciplines 293 times a day, attends to all emails/ correspondence, deadlines, helps with math/writing/biology homework, serves dinner while engineering a round of high-low, oversees bedtime and bath marathon, reads lovingly to lap children, tucks them in with prayers, finishes the endless daily junk everywhere pickup, turns attention to husband with either mind or body, then has one last thought for the day: I am doing a terrible job at everything. .....we cannot do it all, have it all, or master it all. That is simply not a thing. You have to decide which parts are draining you dry, [and ask] what parts do you love and are life giving?"

Jen Hatmaker, For the Love


This morning as I struggle with my own shoulds, woulds, and coulds, I am reminding myself of the process of letting go of these unrealistic, crushing expectations.

It can get like a pressure cooker up in here.

See it...

Recognize this insanity for what it is. This morning I laid in bed, thinking about all that's on my plate and told my husband, "It's happening again."


"It's feeling impossible again. The pressure it's becoming too much." I let the tears fall down my face.


"Life. Kids, work...all my expectations and what I'd like to accomplish."

As the tears fell it felt good to own it.

Vent it.

When I say my unrealistic expectations out loud—it's a lot easier to recognize them for what they are: impossible. I set myself up for failure before I've even started.

So I call: ENOUGH.

I am pretty awesome. Most especially when I'm rocking my work out clothes, bathed in yesterday's sweat. I probably smell like flowers.

Laugh at it.

Reality doesn't always seem funny by myself, but it does seem funny when I text it too my friends. Like when I wore a scarf for an entire day before realizing there were two baby socks and a pair of infant pants tucked inside. Like pictures of potty-training fails, or a "I gave up on today, so I'm watching Runaway Bride instead."

Forgive yourself...

Maybe it sounds silly, but there is something powerful that happens when I say to myself, "I forgive you."

I forgive you for not being perfect. I forgive you for being grumpy. I forgive you for letting your kids watch too much TV. I forgive you for not being as patient as you'd like. I forgive you for being flawed and being human.

I don't know about you, but I need a clean slate.

I have a really hard time building anything productive on top of yesterday's guilt.

Honestly, I usually feel so bummed about my failure that I have no energy to fix anything. I end up repeating yesterday instead of making the changes I want to make.

Release it...

Now let it go.

Love yourself...

The other day I was obsessing about a mistake I made that affected someone else. I envisioned how furious she must be, and chastised myself for being so forgetful and careless. In the middle of a hurricane of negative self-talk, a small voice inside me said: Would you be mad if she had done this to you?

No, of course not. It's not a big deal.

Then why not you? Why wouldn't you give the same grace you have for others, to yourself?


The challenge?

Let's be imperfectly and wonderfully OURSELVES. We have our strengths and we have our weaknesses. We will NEVER be everything.

No one is pulling this off.

I have a sneaking suspicion that our kids wouldn't trade us for anyone in the world. Not even for J-Lo + Mother Theresa + Mr. Rogers.

They may each be wonderful in their own ways, but to our children, nothing compares to the glorious, undefeatable, messy wonder that is their mama.

You might also like:

A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.


I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

Keep reading Show less

This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

Keep reading Show less

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less