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I thought I was going to be the 'perfect mom'—before I had kids

The "shoulds" of motherhood seem to be around every corner:

I went to my daughter's school when I should have been getting work done. I was working even though I should have been helping our babysitter calm my toddlers' tantrum.

I work from home but I should work in an office; I'd focus better. I work—full stop—but I should be staying home with my children.

I was out with friends when I should have been home soothing my baby's cries. I was watching a mindless TV show when I should have been spending time with my husband.

I was up late (again) when I should have been sleeping. I was catching up on work when I should have been taking time for myself.

I was looking at Instagram when I should have been folding laundry. I was holding my baby while she napped when I should have been cleaning up.

I was eating takeout when I should have cooked a healthy meal with the groceries we have. I was doing the dishes when I should have been watching my daughter's dance moves.

I was online shopping when I should have been emailing. I was daydreaming when I should have been crossing tasks off my to-do list.

I was wearing three-day-old yoga pants and a sweatshirt when I should have been in jeans and a cute top. I was sipping coffee in silence when I should have been getting something, anything done before the kids woke up.

I was eating ice cream when I should have been going to the gym to shed the baby weight. I was hard on myself for that mistake when I should have let it go.

I was snoozing my alarm when I should have been showering and shaving my legs. I was playing and having fun with my kids when I should have been organizing and decluttering.

I was too tired and canceled my plans when I should have pushed through. I ate leftover chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese when I should have eaten something healthy.

I was crying when I should have been calm. I was doubting myself when I should have been believing in everything I have to offer.

I was talking down to myself when I should have been lifting myself up. I was kicking myself when I should have been comforting myself. I was focusing on the negative when I should have been celebrating the positive.

I should have been on time—instead, I was late. I should have been productive—instead, I was overwhelmed.

I shouldn't have yelled—instead, I am sorry. I should have been nice—instead, I lost my patience.

I should have said the right thing—instead, I said it wrong. I should have come up with something more creative to do—instead, we had a fun doing something 'ordinary.' (And you didn't even notice.)

I should have gotten my hair highlighted—instead, I have roots. I should make sure my cup is filled—instead, it's running on empty.

I should worry about keeping up with the Jones'—instead, I'm trying to save for our future. I was going to be the "perfect mom," and instead of that, my kids got something else: me.

I don't always do what I "should." And I'm not even remotely close to "perfect." But I'm trying to be a good mom and a good partner and a good sister and a good friend and a good daughter and a good person.

Is the TV show Riverdale more worthy of my time than sleep? No—but, I need to unwind. Are yoga pants the most fashionable thing to wear? No—but to me, comfort is key right now.

Is cleaning my house important? Yes—but, so is holding my baby when she's small. Are healthy meals good for you? Yes—but, sometimes takeout is necessary for my sanity.

Is interacting with my children and watching their songs and dances and tricks and "shows" good for my soul? Yes—and so is a clean, empty sink.

Are plans with friends fun? Yes—but sometimes, I crash so hard at the end of the day I can hardly move.

Is being kind important? Is practicing positive parenting #goals? Is patience a virtue? Yes, yes, and yes—but parents are only human, too. And sometimes, we lose it.

And sometimes, we make mistakes.

And sometimes, we falter.

Usually, we learn a lesson. Usually, we can make things better.

Because we can always try again. Because tomorrow is a new day.

There are a lot of "shoulds" in this world, but the only one I'm interested in is: I should be proud of myself. I'm learning and growing and evolving. And I'm trying.

And sure, I may not be THE "perfect mom", but I can say with absolute 100% certainty—I am the perfect mom for them.

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