An Imperfect Role Model
By Winnie Yu
An imperfect role model. As a mother, I used to think I had to set the perfect example, especially since I have two daughters. I had to work hard. I had to eat the healthiest foods. I had to dress well. I always had to arrive on time. I had to be nice. I could never tell a lie. I had to donate money to anyone who ever asked. And I could never mutter a bad word, even during life’s most frustrating moments.
Striving for perfection, however, was exhausting. It was also impossible to achieve. Take the time my daughter Annie and I got rear ended by a reckless driver last year on our way home from a piano lesson. A few choice words slipped out of my mouth that day. Annie quickly learned that her mom was hardly “perfect” and never would be.
And that, I decided, is okay.
Even the most perfect among us are hardly perfect. We get angry. We get grumpy. We snap. We judge. Simply put, we don’t always do what’s considered the right thing. Most of the time, however, we’re just decent people, trying to do the best we can. I call it being human.
Letting my daughters see my imperfections gives them — and me — room to breathe and allows them be the imperfect people they are. It frees them up to relax a little when they mess up. It also teaches them to forgive others when they are imperfect and to move on with the bigger picture in mind.
Does that mean there are things I’ve done that I don’t regret? Absolutely not. Does it mean I think it’s okay to be rude, inconsiderate and crass? Not at all. What it does mean is that I don’t pressure myself to always do the right thing, even when I know my kids are watching me.
Freeing myself from the strict standards of perfectionism allows me to relax and teaches my kids the best lesson of all: no one is perfect.
And that’s perfectly fine by me.