I’ve always considered myself a perfectionist.
Like many woman and mothers, I love a clean spotless house, delicious homemade meals and a posh outfit with no wrinkles or stains. Being a mother is no different.
So deeply internalized is the “perfect mom” ideal, mothers are often the victims of their own unrealistic expectations to do it all and do it all perfectly.
Mothers carry many roles as we know; the chauffeur, the maid, the coach, the hairdresser, the teacher, the chef and the list goes on and on. We as mothers put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do so many tasks and do them perfectly. However, more often times than not, those perfect memorable moments are in the raw, unexpected and unplanned.
I’ve always loved spontaneity and adventure but nothing comes close to the adventure I was expecting.
Last year at this time, I had just had my third baby, our first boy. We already had two older girls, five and four years old, so a boy was so new and exciting for our growing family. Our new baby boy was just barely three months old when I found out I was pregnant..again.
Shock & fear hit my entire body. I couldn’t even believe it. I wasn’t ready to have another baby just yet. I wanted to get my body back. I wanted to travel again. I wanted to have plenty of time to love on my newborn baby, plus enjoy my other two girls. I love being a mother and knew I wanted more children but this unexpected news came way too soon.
This can’t happen yet. I’m not ready. This isn’t part of my plan.
Within the two weeks after finding out I was pregnant, I was sicker than ever. Pregnancy hormones didn’t sit well with me and I spent more time over the toilet than with my family.
One night I’ll never forget was when I heard my kids having fun in the family room while I laid in my bed, unable to physically move. I wasn’t involved at all for those long two weeks and I wasn’t the fun mommy they were used to.
Tears swelled up in my eyes. I had a three month old baby I wanted to love on and being sick in bed made that hard. I curled myself up in a ball on my bed and prayed.
“Heavenly Father, I’ve always wanted five kids. My whole life. I love being a mother but I can’t have five. I can’t be pregnant again after this. I’m too sick. My kids deserve a better mother. Sadly, this will be my last pregnancy..”
I’m not kidding when I say that same night, I woke up at 3 am in crazy pain. I was rushed to the emergency room because my doctor thought I may have an ectopic pregnancy. It was such an emotional roller coaster. Before I was crying because I was going to have a baby so soon, and here I was even more upset because I feared I would lose a baby.
It felt like an eternity waiting to enter the ultrasound room so I could finally find out what was going on inside me. I laid down as he put the cold jelly on my belly and I asked,
“Is there a heartbeat?”
He looked at me and then back at the screen, then back at me over and over again and finally said..
My heart stopped.
There was a long pause..
“There are TWO heartbeats.
You’re having TWINS!”
I couldn’t believe it. What? I seriously was in a twilight zone. I kept pinching myself. What?! Twins?! This wasn’t part of my plan!
He left me alone to regroup and gather my thoughts and I quickly remembered my heartfelt prayer just hours before.. five kids. I’m going to have FIVE kids.
Just like I wanted, but not how I had planned.
I immediately felt so blessed and the fear was gone. My prayers were answered in the most unique way, and not the way I had planned. It was an imperfectly perfect plan.
Fast forward now and my identical twin girls are three months old and the exact same age as my little boy was when I found out I was pregnant with the twins. My life with five kids, six years and under is quite the challenge these days and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Again, not as I had planned, but way, way better.
Perfection looks a lot different for me these days.
Perfection now is cheering on my little boy as he takes his first steps.
Hearing my daughter sound out words and read to me.
Watching my other daughter learn to rollerblade around my hardwood floor and bumping into walls.
And watching them all, as if in slow motion, dancing with each other and laughing.
That to me is perfection.
I love the chaos. The crazy. It’s like a party, the more the merrier and I almost thrive on it now.
It took me awhile to laugh at the little messes, the chocolate fingerprints on my white linen couches, all five babies screaming at once.
I live for it.
My close mama friends throughout the years have shared with me some mom-isms and I’d love to share three that I totally love and live by that helps me, as a mother, find total joy in motherhood and live an imperfectly perfect life.
1. Your attitude is everything. It’s in your full control and luckily, you are the only one responsible for it. I remind myself daily and try to be the mother who chooses to see the joy in any situation.
There have been several times if I would’ve chosen to have a bad attitude because things didn’t go as I saw in my head, it could have ruined an extraordinary memory for me and my family.
One in particular was when I had plans for a lovely picnic up the canyon in hopes of enjoying the sunshine and beautiful scenery with my family. As soon as we got there, without any notice, it started raining so hard. I was super devastated that my idea of a fun Sunday was totally ruined.
As we were cleaning up in a hurry, I looked over and saw my girls jumping in the puddles instead, as if nothing was wrong. Then it hit me, nothing was wrong! We jumped, splashed and played until we were all covered in mud. That was why we came, to laugh, play and create memories together. Again, that unexpected moment was imperfectly so perfect and one I’ll never forget.
Other times like this happen all the time and will continue to happen only when I chose to have a positive attitude and see the best in any situation.
My ‘perfect cake’ ruined, turned into a fun unforgettable cake fight that is now a birthday tradition.
In my ‘perfect family photo’ I ended up finding a dum dum sucker in my hair & that picture seems to be my favorite.
Our ‘perfect family outing’ to the circus and they only remember running through the sprinklers afterwards on a whim together.
My idea of the ‘perfect present’ for my baby boy only led to him loving the ribbons covering the box instead.
Each time, my initial reaction was, “Oh no. This is terrible.” But all those imperfect memories bonded our family together and even now make the best stories to tell and retell.
2. Another good momism is to laugh. Laugh every day. Laugh at yourself for making a ‘mistake’. Laugh at your kids for the innocent messes and craziness they create. After all, thinking that our kids will sit quietly and not make a mess is actually really funny. As Aubrey Hepburn says, “Laughing cures a multitude of ill. Its probably the most important thing in a person.”
I’ll never forget when my older daughter, who was two at the time, was found covered in every tube of lipstick I owned. It was all over our rug, her clothes and her cute guilty grin. She kept saying “I pretty mama, I pretty.”
She was pretty and as mad as I thought I was, I just started laughing. Then my husband started laughing. It was so infectious, we both couldn’t stop. She was so cute and so proud of herself and I chose to see that instead of getting annoyed at the replaceable mess. Nothing is ever too serious when you have kids.
3. Look for ways to say YES. Although not perfect at it, I strive to live up to this one daily. If they want to build a fort in the living room, I say, “YES! You can after you clean up your mess in the basement or YES! As long as you play with your little brother too.”
This summer I made a conscious effort to say yes whenever my older girls asked me to jump in the pool with them. I don’t regret washing my hair more often and didn’t feel like I missed out on my summer tan one bit. We created memories together just by me saying yes.
Finding ways to say YES seems like it gives me more control on the circumstance and makes for a happier mama and happier children too.
Life is overwhelming joyous and crazy good and downright hard all at the same time.
Life is imperfect.
Motherhood is filled with U-turns, missed exits, and other detours that in the moment seem like a complete catastrophe. But I’m trying to remember that most of the imperfect bloopers are fixable and sometimes even lead to more perfection than we can ever imagine.
I know when I look back on these years raising my children, those moments that didn’t go according to plan or the way they were supposed to will be the ones I miss the most.
I may have lost my mind at the end of the day, but I found my soul in knowing I get the blessed chance to be called mommy.
Day after day of motherhood, I wing it, hoping and praying I do my best. That is all we can do, our very best. Motherhood is one of the greatest gifts and blessings ever given. It is absolutely perfect, imperfectly perfect.
This article was written by Brittney Winder, a gorgeous mom of 5 – make sure you follow her and her journey through motherhood on Instagram!