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Adventures in Motherhood

“Ideal vs. Real”

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Published on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 by By Courtney Jensen

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Wouldn’t it be great if our toddlers never ate sugar, cordially shared with their sibling, rarely whined or shouted, and were potty trained before their second birthdays? Ideal? Definitely. Reality? Not always.

Certainly it’s worth striving for the ideal of each situation, right? It is, after all, “ideal”. No one wants to only settle for sub-standard options, but when it comes to children it seems almost too much like a fairy tale to expect the above mentioned ideals. Reality is a land far, far away from the castle of idealism (located near the land of perfectionism) In fact, reality is the world we live in, and we all face the challenges of navigating it.

A mother gets a plethora of “how-to’s”, suggestions, best-willed advice and down right nosey input when it comes to raising her children. All of which are usually aimed closer to the ideal and fail to factor in all the unpredictable variables we face in employing our best efforts.

I used to allow the perfectionist in me to beat me up when it came to any deficiencies I faced with my job as a mom. When visiting the dentist for my son Andrew (then 3) I felt terrible that he was still sucking his thumb. The advice of the dentist of course, was to simply “have him stop”. Now, a mother takes direction from a professional seriously, and wholeheartly aims to make a valiant effort on the advice given. However, there is one factor which diluted my efforts, and that would be child participation. Andrew has been sucking his thumb since his days in the womb (as we first saw on ultrasound at 20 weeks) So, naturally upon laying out the thumb sucking ban advisory, my son only set out to do it more. More clever efforts only drove his habit further. My “ideal” goal gave way to the results of the reality of the situation; this was going to take time. He may not stop when it is ideal, but eventually he will, and that’s going to have to work for me.

Sometimes the advice we are given is a few degrees above the realities we live in, and living in an imperfect world parenting unruly children, we should give and accept more grace when facing parenting advice. Life is full of “happy mediums” and it doesn’t always suggest settling for less, but rather making concessions and achieving a balance.


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