The Only Thing Preventing You From Being The Parent You Want To Be

“Are you the parent you want to be? If not, what’s stopping you?”

I asked that on my Facebook page yesterday, and the majority of people responded that they aren’t. The reasons ranged from money and patience, to support and anxiety.

It was all something I could relate to. I didn’t have time to respond back to anyone and tell them so because I was working hard yesterday to be the mom I want to be, and clean the house, play with the kids, make healthy snacks, blah blah blah.

But I thought about it a lot yesterday, and about how sad it is that so many of us feel like we’re not the parent we want to be and the things that are preventing us from being that person are largely out of our control. It’s like we’ll never be good at this job no matter how hard we try. How depressing is that?

We have got to reframe this and set ourselves up for success, friends. Nobody deserves to go through life feeling like they are failing at something every day, especially not raising their kids.

So lately I’ve been trying this thing where I picture the mom I want to be, and then I recognize that that is a FANTASY based on images that are not true to MY real life.

And then I reframe it based on reality.

“I want to be the mother who enjoys playing with her kids all the time.” Is now:  “I want to be the mother who enjoys playing with her kids for maybe a few minutes a day.”

“I want to be the mother who has homemade snacks and cooks healthy dinners every night.” Is now: “I want to be the mother who doesn’t feed her kids from a drive through most nights.”

“I want to be the mother who does crafts with her kids.” Is now: “I want to be the mother who doesn’t have to drink the whole bottle of wine after doing crafts with her kids.”


Losing. My. Mind right here.

Okay,  but humor aside, there really is some truth here.

It’s called lowering expectations, and it’s helped me a lot in the past.

The only thing really stopping you from being the parent you want to be is the parent you want to be. There is nothing wrong with recognizing that that parent is a mythological creature, based on your current circumstances.

Remember, that parent may very well be a real, tangible thing for other people. Hell, maybe other people are actually wizards, too. We will never know.

But you? You are not a wizard. And you have limitations that keep you from becoming that mythical being. So, like, stop wanting to be that impossible, made-up person.

The Only Thing Keeping You From Being The Parent You Want To Be | BabyRabies.comThis was for a project I just did for MyHabit. They wanted gorgeous, styled photos of me and the kids.
All those smiles are fake. Candy was promised. I think Lowell is probably in a state of paralyzed fear.  

In my experience, my patience thins and my temper shortens the more I think about my failures and all that will not live up to the impossible expectations I set for myself. When you stop holding yourself to such high standards, your humanity has room to breathe.

The Only Thing Keeping You From Being The Parent You Want To Be |

Right after I told Scott, “Whatever. I give up. Are you done? Just shoot. This is us. I can’t with the styling and posing.”
Okay, it’s possible I also yelled, “Can you please just TRY to shoot it level?”

I would also encourage you to give the “parent you want to be” all the traits of a normal human, including making mistakes, and being able to start fresh the next day without the help of a wand, but definitely with the help of wine, or therapy, or medications or any/none of those combinations. Also, for sure with the help of sleep.

So be kinder to yourselves, okay? Of course, always strive to be the best you, but also accept the current best you. Put that person up on a pedestal, even if that person doesn’t get to spend as much time with their kids as they’d like, or feels touched out and done at the end of the day.

Lower your expectations. You are enough.

Now enjoy this gorgeous, styled photo of my toddler who desperately needed a snack so much that he nearly ripped my dress off. Please know this woman is mythical. She does not exist in the real world. The only time I ever look like this, I’m nowhere near my children. The only time I breastfeed is when I’m with my children. So this is like an oxymoron. 


Also, you can’t really see this, but he’s driving Thomas the Train down my cleavage. 

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  1. I really needed to read this today. I’ve been struggling with my expectations of myself as a mother and wife since my son was born 8.5 months ago. I really want to be that woman who has it all together. Whose house is clean everyday, who makes a healthy dinner every night of the week, who has thoughtful and engaging activities planned for her child every minute of the day. I’m realizing that’s impossible though, at least for me. I’m going to have to be ok with being the mom who’s usually wearing yoga pants, whose house is clean and tidy maybe 10% of the time and who needs her husband to pick up take out a couple nights a week because I just can’t with the cooking some days. My son is healthy and happy, so I’m doing something right.

  2. Kelly Adkins Nixon on

    As always Jill, this post is right on time and on target. Every night is a guilt trip of ‘did we get enough one on one playtime in today?’, ‘Maybe DisneyJr wasn’t the best idea all morning’, ‘I really should have cleaned the stairs’, ‘more vegetables tomorrow’…and the list goes on and on. I try to remind myself everyday that there is no picture perfect parent. Then I turn my head and look at the snoring munchkin hogging my pillow and think perhaps, I’m doing ok. (and we’ll save the reason he’s on my pillow for another post…another time…:))

  3. I’m so glad you included this “always strive to be the best you, but also accept the current best you” PERFECT! it’s always kind of implied but very rarely said. While our kids can benefit from us cutting ourselves a break I worry that too much might get dropped. They definitely deserve our best!!

    • Definitely! And I’m the kind of person who isn’t happy with not giving my best, so it’s a balance for me. I want my kids to see me being the person who tries to get better every day, but I also want them to see me love myself no matter what.

  4. Carolyn Allen Russell on

    For the record, I love the family photo where you gave up so much more than the posed version (which was cute, don’t get me wrong! But the second one is just so much more relaxed and natural and it makes me smile because it feels so genuine). I also loved your breastfeeding photo 10 times more when you said he was driving a train down your cleavage – I think I just prefer the real to the styled 😉

  5. Thanks for this. The feeling of lightness as you let go of some of those weighty expectations is so lovely! Goodbye, vision of perfectly kept home! Hello, CPS-won’t-take-my-kids level of dirt. Ahhh.

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