The Perfect Woman

I told my three-year-old the goldfish had died because she kept putting her hand in the water and made it dirty. She turned to the remaining fish: “Oh yeah, I’m really sorry about that fishy. I killed your brother.”

My little fish killer apologized, yet not a morsel of guilt was to be found in her heart. She has her own little brother. The two of them bite, hit, kick, scream, and apologize by force alone.

Guilt?

The word does not even register in their vocabulary. They know once they see through the apology and the hug, the world is set to right once again.

“Catholics have guilt and Jews have guilt, fine. But mothers can trump them all.” ~Diane Lane

I have struggled with guilt all my life, but motherhood has brought this sickening emotion to the highest of heights. How many mistakes I have made, how many times I have failed. My carelessness has placed them in grave danger. I thought I had connected their bike carrier to the back of my own bike securely the other day. Instead, I suddenly turn to the sound of honking horns, find my loves heading straight into the busy road! Every time I think of it I tremble, lose sleep for the condemnation eating me inside. I look their way. They are busy, happy, “Come play with us, Mom!” they shout among squeals of delight. There is no anger in their hearts, no resentment towards me.

I yell at my daughter, the sweetest little face ever to breathe. I break her dear form to tears with my selfish anger. I am the worst of the living – who yells at an innocent creature this way? I apologize, and she immediately wraps her sweet arms around me. She smiles once more, loving me without limit.

“Guilt is the source of sorrows, the avenging fiend that follows us behind with whips and stings.” ~Nicholas Rowe 

As the parent, I thought I was the one who was supposed to instruct my children. This time, it is they who are playing the teacher. To face guilt like a child seems to be the only true way to happiness, peace. Freedom.

They are guiding me: I was not made to function in guilt. I mess up, I fall short, I fail utterly and ugly. I must get back up. I must move on. It is the only way I will survive.

I will never be the perfect woman, but I can try to be a great one, even if today I miss the mark.

Sasha at MomLife Now

67 thoughts on “The Perfect Woman

  1. Great blog, thanks for sharing.
    What is perfection anyway? We can only be the best selves that we can, & that does not compare to anyone else. We each have our own separate journey.
    Yes our children are great teachers, enjoy the ride.

    • Somewhat new to this mom thing, I have quickly learned the competition is fierce and comparisons high. You are right though, we cannot live like this. Still new, I am learning more each day, and trying to take advise like yours to heart. Thanks! 🙂

  2. What a great post! I often say that guilt is the curse of motherhood but I can also relate to the my mother’s guilt when she’d say “After all I’ve done for you” loud sigh. You are right that children give us a second chance to learn what we didn’t get right the first time around. Blessings

  3. That’s where the true beauty of humanity lies. In a child’s pure smile and warm embrace. Even if I spend a large part of the day yelling at them like a maniac, at bedtime, all I get are sweet, cuddly hugs, giggles and unmatched love. I see “no anger, no resentment” for the numerous times I mess up as a mother. You explained it perfectly.
    May lives with our children always stay this imperfect but filled with perfect love.

  4. I love your honesty and compassion…two of the most important qualities to possess as a mom. It is inevitable that we sometimes lose our tempers…and trust me, they understand, as long as we are open with them and don’t try to pretend we are always right.

  5. You’re human the same as the rest of us and you’re doing the best you can to raise your children. Yesterday’s gone. If three’s a better way you will find it, and that’s the positive side of mistakes, they educate us all. As for the children, the rubs of life will sort it all out and they will grow to be good citizens.

    • Thanks Ian. “Yesterday’s gone.” I love it, and hope to forever live my life in this way, embracing the present. “Good citizens,” well, I suppose that will do. 😉

  6. What a great post! I think all women feel terrible guilt about motherhood. I remember crossing a road, and a truck not stopping at a red traffic light. It missed me by cms, and the baby pram by a little more, but years later, I still shudder, I still blame myself for crossing the road, and i still think I should have been less reckless when I crossed the road.

    My daughter teaches me too. She forgives, she understands, she loves freely. We can’t be perfect, and I guess children understand that. I love the concept of ‘the good enough mother’ and I hope I am that. Guilt is the other side of motherhood. It happens, I think, because we love our children so very, very much.

    • Isn’t it incredible the way these moments never leave us, continuing to shake our frame years later? I try, although not easily, to lay aside the shudder and look up with a prayer of gratitude to the One who must have been watching over us.

      I agree completely with your thoughts on this. Motherhood has brought my love to a place I knew not existed. So intense that anything less of perfection can quickly be turned to guilt.

  7. Reblogged this on MomLife Now and commented:

    I had the honor of guest posting on A Holistic Journey! I have been a huge fan of the Holistic Wayfarer for some time now and was both thrilled and terrified to write this piece. Here’s to pleading “not guilty.” . . .

  8. This is absolutely beautiful. I needed this today. Now. I was the worst person on the face of the planet today. The worst! I lost it. I broke. I could not handle the sweetest little person, and so I gave him to his father and locked myself in my room for the rest of the day. And now the guilt is eating away at me and will keep me up all night and kill me a little bit more tomorrow.

    Okay, I’m going to read this again now.

  9. Sasha, this is amazing. It is true. I know this feeling all too well on days that mommy is too tired or busy to play. I feel like the worst neglectful mother in the world as I tuck her in for bed. In the morning her face still lights up as she see me. She still kisses me and says “I love my mommy.”

    • Is it not the greatest gift ever, the way they love us without limits or conditions? They teach us the true way to live, to breathe, to love, each day bringing new mercies again.

  10. I completely understand where you’re coming from. One time, on our way back from the beach, I had left our 11 month old in his car seat, without buckling him in, all the way back to our condo. It wasn’t until I went to unbuckle him that I realized he had never been buckled in. I still shake when I think about what could have happened because of my oversight. The great thing about small children is that they don’t hold grudges. That boy is 2 now and loves me more than I could ever ask.
    Great post!

  11. The hardest lessons are the ones we learn from those we feel we are supposed to be teaching. I don’t remember the conversation, but I remember my son’s correction. He was 4 1/2 years old at the time: “That sounds a lot like grumbling to me and I don’t think God would be happy about it.” As long as I learn the lesson, I will become a better parent, wife, sister, friend, neighbor, etc.!

  12. Ever since I read this post this morning, I’ve been thinking about it. I was so grateful that you shared your experience of making a mistake, because it made me feel just a little less guilty that my son got into our Comet cleaning powder today, poured it on the floor, and then was trying to lick it. Seriously, it was just one of those days that I was so frustrated with myself. But, just like your kids, my little boy forgave me in an instant for overreacting. He hugged me, snuggled me, and flashed me his sunshine smile. Thank you, Sasha, for another great post 🙂

    • Marla, I dd not want to share my bike story! In fact I had not told a single soul before writing this, for the guilt eating me inside. A little prompting from the Holistic Wayfarer brought it out of me though, and I am so glad she did.

      We all mess up–badly–and it seems in sharing our mistakes we are somehow able to find the way to forgive ourselves. You are a great mom, this is evident from your blog. Keep on loving that little Comet eater, and keep loving yourself despite all the mommy mess ups. 🙂

  13. Oh this has been me all week long and I’m hating it…but writing about it and finding freedom in knowing I’m not alone. I’m just a mom, doing my best, and sometimes I fail and I suck, but they love me anyway! What a gift! Thanks for this.

    • Thanks! Yes, I did not realize how powerful of a force guilt would be in this motherhood thing. I am slowly learning to put it behind me and look forward each day. 🙂

  14. Just what the doctor ordered, your affirming words at the end.

    I am not my mistake(s), I tell myself.
    John Maxwell said something to this effect: Mistakes are messages that give me feedback about life and interruptions that should cause me to stop and reflect.

    Thanks for being vulnerable and using this platform to tell “our” stories.

    • I am a huge fan of John Maxwell and these words are exactly what I need to keep tucked into the back of my mind. Thanks for sharing this, I will not soon forget it!

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