Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ugly pies and reflections on embracing imperfection…

I can say with absolute certainty that the most difficult part of parenting for me is learning to accept failure, or rather, less-than-perfect results. To say that I am particular about things is an understatement. I like things just so. I like them done immediately. I do not like change. I also like to be right. I like plans, schedules, and rules.

As a child, my parents had very high expectations for my sister and me. They were also very conservative and had fairly strict rules. My mom was far from a “Tiger Mom,” but she still expected us to make good grades and do a good job with whatever extracurricular activities we chose. But we thrived! I had a very happy childhood and learned to have a strong work ethic and to expect success.

When I was pregnant, what I worried about most was that I would hate having a child because my life would lose its comfortable predictability. Friends and family would ask if I was nervous about parenthood, and I would tell them I wasn’t worried if I would be good at it, because I (arrogantly) was pretty sure I would be. What I did worry about was whether or not I would enjoy being a mother in the first place. This doesn’t exactly make for fun chatting at showers, as you can imagine. Even though our son was definitely planned for and wanted, pregnancy totally snuck up on us and happened much, much sooner than we expected. Did I mention I don’t like change?

As a matter of survival over the past three years, I have had to accept that having a child means life will rarely go as planned. Life with a baby teaches you that you must learn to accept failure. Things will not be perfect. Your baby will cry, you will get poop on your hands, and eventually you will come to terms with not showering regularly. Then later on your toddler will throw a fit in a store, you won’t be able to eat in restaurants, and your living room will turn into a giant playpen. Soon you’ll have a preschooler whose favorite word is “mine,” takes 20 minutes to get in the car because he wants to do it himself, and frequently goes to the grocery store wearing a cape.

Things definitely do not always turn out RIGHT, but they do turn out. I’ve learned to accept less than stellar results in exchange for contentment. At least I’m working on it.

Today at the grocery store there were these nifty tetra packs of organic pumpkin pie filling that simply required an egg and a pie crust. They were only $1.50! My 3 year old ADORES pumpkin pie, and I figured it would make for a fun afternoon project, and it did. He got shortening all over his hands and his shirt, but he learned how to use a pastry cutter. We counted tablespoons of cold water, and then he helped me roll out the pastry into a (lopsided) circle. I forgot to lower the temperature on the oven after the first 15 minutes because we were doing a new Berenstain Bear puzzle I scored at the thrift store today, so it turned out a little too brown around the edges. But you know what? It was delicious, and we all ate two slices for dessert this evening.

Five years ago I would have been horrified to serve a pie that looked like this. But today, I am so proud of my son for just about making it himself, crust and all. Cheers to motherhood, ugly pies, changing expectations, and accepting – and embracing - failure.

Claire Williamson,
Representative for Ecological Babies

1 comment:

Laura Jackson said...

Thanks for this post! I think you and I are pretty similar. :-) My daughter will be 1 year old in a couple weeks and I'm still struggling with the "accepting imperfection" thing. Nice to know there is hope for people like us! :-)