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How I'm Setting Realistic Parenting Expectations in a Pinterest-World
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Jillian Kaplan  image
Jillian Kaplan ,
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@lessonsfromtheminivan
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I know that we pay a lot of a lip service to embracing our flaws. “I love you — warts and all" is a constant mantra. 

But somehow, societal pressures make us think that we’re not good enough to exist in the world. We all know that models’ pictures and gorgeous peoples’ Instagram photos don’t represent the average person. Still, those pictures make so many of us feel bad about ourselves. 

And it’s not just about looks anymore. Pinterest makes doing every aspect of life perfectly look easy.

And for moms, that pressure to make everything look good can be particularly harsh. Those pictures of spectacularly organized homes and sparkling clean countertops have turned into my emotional triggers. They have me questioning myself. What’s actually in the “important paper pile” gathering dust on my countertop?  Why haven’t I thrown out the bananas with the fruit flies congregating around them? Oh yeah, because I intended to use said bananas for my Pinterest-worthy banana bread that I’ll never make. I see little girls with bows in their hair while my child’s curly locks are a tangled mess has actually compelled me to pull out the detangling spray and curl cream. 

But when do we say: “I’ve had enough?” When do we realize that internet pictures are fun to look at, but we can’t beat ourselves up for being unable to replicate them? For me, that realization is right now. And I am okay with that.

The truth is, I’m constantly exhausted. As a single mom of three children who battles several autoimmune diseases, I’ve worked towards accepting my limitations. I can’t do it all. Actually, I can’t do most of it. Some days, I have to pat myself on the back because everyone is alive and in the house.  

My love and presence is everything to my children, and I’ve taught myself that that’s all they really need. 

Exhausted and wearing the same tee shirt and black leggings for the third consecutive day doesn’t affect my kids. When I make frozen pizza for dinner instead of the stir fry I promised to whip up, at least my children are fed. When I pick my kids up from an activity wearing a hat to cover my greasy hair, at least they have a caring parent to pick them up. I know I’ve set the bar pretty low, but at least I can meet my goals. 

We can’t be everything to everyone. I’m never going to be a fabulous DIY mom, and my house isn’t going to be decluttered.  I’m always going to be a mom who shows up for my kids and who my kids can count on.

Often, our inner voice is our harshest critic. 

And when our negative inner voice is amplified by the media we're shown all the time, those nagging thoughts can drag us down on an hourly basis. Do we really deserve to be miserable because we haven’t yet achieved a certain income, weight, relationship status, or job? Can we accept some things as okay for right now, and others as okay for always? 

This year, I’ve decided to be my own best friend instead of my own worst enemy. My authenticity — quirks, flaws, and limitations — are all part of who I am. Mommy is a person who is amazing just as she is. Authenticity is beautiful.

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Follow Jillian Kaplan on Instagram @lessonsfromtheminivan

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