Stalked by the Stork...a diary of raising twelve kids

Having twelve children is an amazing blessing and one heck of a crazy ride. Join us through all the joys, smiles, tribulations and trials as we navigate this fabulous journey!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Myth Of The Perfect Family...and ours is so not!

Sometimes when I am feeling particularly stressed out, my children are behaving particularly poorly, or my husband and I are being particularly snippy with one another, I find myself falling prey to what I’ve heard called “The Myth of the Perfect Family.” I know that I, for one, have had plenty of experiences where I’ve been influenced by my own perception of another mom, or another wife. I’ve reflected on what a great mom she seemed to be, how “together” she appeared, how she seemed to be able to manage it all- great marriage, awesomely behaved kids, finances in order, house immaculate and patience to spare. And inevitably, I begin to doubt myself. Why can’t I keep my home that clean? Why can’t I be that loving to my husband? How does she manage her laundry pile? Wow, her kids never seem to fight! They REALLY have their stuff together! I sooooooo wish I was more like that mom….”that” mom from church, or from my kids school, or sports team, or from my neighborhood. Ultimately, I end up feeling jealous, and lousy. And I begin to feel a bit sorry for myself. I feel like I don’t measure up. Like I fall short.
But the thing is, when I do that, I’m chasing a perception… an image of what I THINK and not a reality. Because in reality, no one has it ALL together. No one is perfect. No family is perfect. That other mom who’s life I am temporarily coveting…she’s probably feeling insecure from time to time herself, feeling like she doesn’t measure up, like she falls short.
We seem to live in a society where competitiveness runs rampant. Where we feel we have to do as well or better than the next mom. Why do we use the successes and accomplishments of others as our measuring stick? Shouldn’t it just be enough to live the life that works for our own families, for ourselves and for our husbands?

I was motivated to write about this when I encountered an acquaintance at Wal-Mart and she mentioned to me how much she loved seeing our family and how perfect we seemed together and how she wished her family was as loving and close as ours. Ha! Does she not know??? Does she not know that I loose my patience and yell more often than I’d like to admit? That sometimes I’m lazy? Too tired to read to my kids? That I put Barney on so I can blog hop? That I ordered pizza when we really couldn’t afford it because I’d forgotten to thaw something earlier in the day? Does she realize that our marriage that she THINKS is perfect, is indeed amazing and awesome…but FAR from perfect? I wonder what she’d think if she knew our marriage, over the past fifteen years, has been plagued by many common problems, selfishness, infidelity, dishonesty, immaturity…the list goes on…Does she realize that we haven’t always been super happy? There have been plenty of rough times we’ve had to ride out, including this past summer from heck. If she knew those things, maybe she wouldn’t compare herself and her marriage to ours and feel inadequate. Maybe if I didn’t make those same types of comparisons to others, I wouldn’t feel inadequate and insecure sometimes! And really, who of us needs the added pressure of feeling inadequate? Isn’t life stressful enough on its own?
I have come to believe 100 percent that there is no such thing as the perfect family- only families you don’t know well enough yet! And do our kids really NEED perfect families anyhow? I’d say heck no! They need REAL families. Families that encounter problems. Families that mess up. Here’s a confession. Our kids have seen my husband and I fight. And do you know what that means (aside from the fact that they are now supposedly all the more likely to wind up on a therapist’s couch)? It means that they have seen us make up. They have seen us resolve conflict. They have seen that we make mistakes, are human and that we forgive and can be forgiven. They have witnessed first hand that those who love each other may not always agree on things and that this is okay. They have learned tolerance for differing opinions and different approaches. Most importantly, they’ve learned that we stick together no matter what. No matter who messes up, or how hard things are. I don’t think these lessons could be learned or taught within the confines of a Perfect Family. And that’s a good thing, since ours is so not….


Anonymous said...

I always love it when I hear someone say that they've never yelled at their kids...seriously? Oh how I wish I could say that, but....
Lifting up prayers!
Psalms 62:8 Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Prayer Bears
My email address

Jennifer Lopez said...

Amen Sister!! Someone else's "perfect" isn't my "perfect".

Anonymous said...

No matter what happens in life, the Lord is always there! Praying!
Habakkuk 3:17-19 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places...
Prayer Bears
My email address

Jenn H said...

Loved and needed to hear this! Miss you!

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