How I’m Setting Realistic Parenting Expectations in a Pinterest World

I know we pay a lot of a lip service to embracing our flaws. “I love you — warts and all” is a mantra for many. And yet somehow, societal pressures still make so many of us think we’re not good enough. We all know those gorgeous photos on Instagram don’t represent the average person and their life. Still, it’s easy to allow those pictures make you feel bad about yourself. And when it comes to raising kids in a world that values the picture-perfect? Well, it can feel impossible to parent in the time of Pinterest.

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

For moms, that pressure to make everything look good can be particularly harsh. For me, other people’s photos of their spectacularly organized homes and sparkling-clean countertops have become 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 photos of little girls with perfectly pleated hair while my child’s curly locks are a tangled mess; in fact, those photos have actually compelled me to pull out the detangling spray and curl cream.

But when do we finally say: “I’ve had enough”? When do stop letting Instagram and Pinterest make us feel like bad moms? When do we 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’m 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 just because everyone is alive and in the house.

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

When I’m exhausted and wearing the same T-shirt and black leggings for the third consecutive day, it 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 and present parent. I know I’ve set the bar pretty low, but at least I can meet those goals.

We can’t be everything to everyone. I’m never going to be a fabulous DIY mom, and my house is never going to be decluttered. But 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 that 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, my quirks, my flaws, and my limitations are all part of who I am. Mommy is a person who is amazing just as she is. Authenticity is beautiful.

This article originally appeared on Fairygodboss. As the largest career community for women, Fairygodboss provides millions of women with career connections, community advice and hard-to-find intel about how companies treat women.