What you are about to read could sound like bragging - but I promise you, it's more of a confession than a badge of honour. Here it is: I lasted three years without yelling at my kids.
I'd lost my temper many times, but I'm an actress, and managed to channel it away from my kids and blame it on something unrelated: "Oopsy! Mommy's feelings have a little boo boo. This bottle of fermented grape juice Mommy is drinking acts like a band-aid for the owie."
I kept up this ruse for years, until finally, a snow boot was thrown at my head one time too many, and everything but the F-bomb came shooting out of my mouth as though I was a bag of popcorn left in the microwave 10 seconds too long. "I can't stand it! You're driving me crazy!!!"
I practically ducked as soon as the words came out of my mouth, thinking, "this is it, the sky is about to fall. The parenting committee, whoever they are, are going to picket in front of my house. Someone's going to brand me with a red hot 'lousy parenting' poker. And worst of all, I've probably ruined my kids." And cue reader calling me crazy.
I thought my kids were like bananas -- one emotional bruise and the whole thing's ruined. I don't know where my ridiculous idea of being a perfect mom came from. But I'm not alone. When I was telling my friend Cheryl Hickey (of ET Canada fame) about how hard I try to give my kids a flawless life, she agreed that it's easy to fall into that trap. She once found herself walking out of a Toys "R" Us with her half-naked baby Jaxs, (wearing only a shirt, since he had ruined his clothes with a un-celebrity-like poop). "I cried all the way home. I thought I had traumatized my son!" Little Jaxs probably thought that it was a thrill for his legs to experience their first winter! But we moms worry and flog ourselves a lot during the early years.
I keep wondering if it's because my pals and I had our kids in our mid-30s; we had our lives completely under control by the time we got preggers, and treat our new career as moms with great ambition. Since we're 'established' in many ways by the time we have babies, we expect more of ourselves than, if, say, we got knocked up at a frat party. I think it sets up a weird dynamic for the kids -- 'cause, hey, they need to learn from our example that you can stumble (with or without dignity), dust yourself off, and keep going.
So the unreal expectations end now! I'm calling for a city-wide ban on perfection. I will trust that when I do my best, as an informed adult, that's good enough. I mean, can't learning to be a parent be just like learning to ride a bike; you fall sometimes in the beginning, and then fall less and less frequently, and then fall only when you're doing pop-a-wheelies?
I hope so, cause that's life. And kids, if you're reading this -- you're not bananas. I, on the other hand, might be.
Jessica Holmes is the author of "I Love Your Laugh: Finding the Light in my Screwball Life."