I'm sorry I'm not a perfect mom. Mom and daughter at beach.

I’m Sorry I’m Not a Perfect Mom: Overcoming Pressures of Perfectionism

When you know, you know. And I know that “I’m sorry, I’m not a perfect mom!”

To start, let’s take a deeper dive into the meaning of perfectionism.

According to Dr. Brene Brown:

“Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”

So, where does the idea of a ‘perfect mom’ come from?

Motherhood can be an overwhelming job, and with the constant images of perfection on social media, it’s easy to compare ourselves to other mothers who seem to be ‘perfect moms.’ At the same time, we glance at the pile of dirty dishes in the sink while hearing our crying toddler in the background and wonder, “Maybe I’m terrible at this?”

According to Parents.com, “Perfectionism has to do with black-and-white thinking. It’s often easier for us to wrap our mind around things when we make them into binaries like good or bad—a perfect mom or a bad mom.”

Taking on the enormous job of motherhood overwhelms our senses, and we fall into the trap of black-and-white thinking.

It’s easier to identify with polarity than the true grey areas where motherhood lives.

Understanding how motherhood fits within all those shades of gray will help lift some weight off our shoulders!

So, if you’re tired of trying to chase perfectionism, what can you do about it?

I turned to the experts for guidance on understanding and healing the notion of a ‘perfect mom.’

Here are some tips I discovered:

Mom smiling and laughing with daughter. Self-kindness not perfectionism. Mom knows "I'm sorry I'm not the perfect mom. And that is okay."

1. Embrace your humanness. Be kind to yourself when you make mistakes.

Amber Thornton, Psy.D of psychology today, says:

“Challenge black-and-white thinking or thinking in extremes. Remind yourself that one mistake does not ruin the progress you have made; it means that you learned something and will do it differently next time while still moving toward your goal. Remind yourself that everyone has flaws, and we all make mistakes.”

I remember, one summer, I was late signing my daughter up for summer camp – I was so hard on myself about it afterward!

Reflection has taught me how valuable self-negotiation is.  If you can reassure yourself after moments like this by recognizing all your successes, then each ‘mistake’ becomes an opportunity for growth rather than something worth beating yourself up over.

Woman has busy kitchen. Taking a moment to enjoy her daughter.

2. Embrace a “good enough mother” mentality. It’s more than okay not to be a perfect mom.

As a parent, it’s easy to pressure oneself to be perfect. But what if we embraced an alternative: being a “good enough mother,” as coined by pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott.

This approach promotes being sensitive, responsive, and adaptive when our children need us most — recognizing that striving for perfection isn’t always necessary or realistic.

Instead of rigid standards all the time, consider allowing space with your kids where you can just ‘be’ in whatever capacity they might need at any given moment – no sitcom episode expectations required!

There will be unexpected issues and challenges every day. And if we can have the awareness (I find this hard!) to remain flexible and present, we’re doing a ‘good enough’ job!

Woman smiling, holding coffee cup. Not a perfect mother - a real mother.

3. Role model self-acceptance for your children.

 Louise East of mamatribe says:

“Do you expect your children to be perfect all the time at the expense of their health and happiness?

Show them how to accept themselves, see their self-worth as separate from what they do, and learn from mistakes with resilience.”

This makes sense to me.

As parents, we need to show our children that self-acceptance and resilience are key. Rather than strive for perfection – which can be damaging in the long run – we can model a healthy attitude towards mistakes by practicing forgiveness ourselves.

Encouraging kids to see their worth apart from what they do and how perfect they appear can promote emotional well-being throughout childhood into adulthood!

Two women hugging. Vulnerability. "I'm sorry I'm not a perfect mother." Needing support.

4. Embrace vulnerability by acknowledging, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not a perfect mom.’

Vulnerability is what connects us deeply to ourselves and to each other.

Being a mom can feel overwhelming and vulnerable at times.

There are days when you feel compelled to constantly question your decisions and worry if you’re doing the right thing. It’s OK not to have all the answers and trust that you’re doing your best for your children.

As long as you keep an open mind and are willing to learn from others, it’s a great way to be a better mom. You can be strong and vulnerable – two fundamental characteristics of motherhood.

Being vulnerable as a mom doesn’t mean that you’re weak; it just means that you’re open to learning and growing as a parent. It’s important to remember this when facing uncertainty or questions about motherhood.

At the end of the day, your children will love and appreciate you for being there for them through the highs and lows. So allow yourself to be vulnerable and embrace all the messy, fragile, and wonderful moments of being a mom.

So don’t be too hard on yourself, and enjoy the ride.

Woman in bathtub. Taking the time for self-care. I'm sorry I'm not the perfect mom.

5. Embrace self-care along the way.

Between taking care of your kids and the efforts required to manage your home life, there’s no denying that being a mom can be exhausting. You can feel compelled to do it all! Instead, set aside time to give your mind and body a break.

Whether it’s a relaxing bath, yoga session, or reading your favorite book, find something that allows you to recharge and make time for yourself. You will be better equipped to handle motherhood’s challenges when you have time for self-care.

Remember to step back and breathe when you feel vulnerable as a mom. Motherhood can bring many highs and lows, but it’s important to consider why you feel this way.

Are there things that you can do to make the situation better? If so, take action, and don’t hesitate to ask for help. And remember – you are doing a fantastic job!

A group of mothers hugging. Women supporting eachother.

6. Remember, you are part of a much larger picture. You’re not alone.

It’s easy to feel alone as a mom.

But building community is one of the best ways to lift your mood!

Reach out to other moms and ask for help or advice when needed. Sharing your experiences can be gratifying. It feels good to connect with others, celebrate the highs, and support each other through the lows.

And don’t forget – there is no such thing as a perfect mom, so be kind to yourself and give yourself grace.

We need to let go of feeling: ‘I’m sorry, I’m not the perfect mom.’

Being a “good enough” mother doesn’t mean you are perfect. It means you embrace your humanity and are fallible – because we all are. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable in front of your children permits them to do the same.

They will see that it is OK not to be perfect. It is more than OK –– it is essential for leading a happy and fulfilling life.

We can move from saying, “I’m sorry I’m not a perfect mom,” to “My dearest child, I know one thing for sure. Every day, in every way, you deserve a good mom. And, even better, I promise you to be a real mom. Of course, I’ll make mistakes! I’ll work hard, try to laugh often, and learn as I go. Don’t ever forget that I know you are the best thing that’s ever happened to me, forever and ever!”

So today, allow yourself a break. And if you know a mom who needs to hear this message, please send this article their way today!


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