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When the best memories of motherhood are perfectly imperfect

Posted April 6

Oh, Facebook, how did you know what I needed?

Thanks to the glory and semi-creepy stalkerish nature of social media, Facebook reminded me last week of a moment that happened three years ago when my then-4-year-old daughter came into the kitchen with the most horrific toddler mullet of all time.

When she walked in, I burst into laughter and tears simultaneously, unable to commit to one of the many emotions I had upon seeing my daughter look like a toddler trucker. She explained simply that her hair was too long, so she had cut off her ponytails. We later found them, elastic bands still intact, in the trash bin. I may or may not have kept one for a weirdly long time after this incident.

Anyway, long story short, miracle of miracles, her hair grew back! And now, here we are three years later with this hilarious memory that will always be one of our family’s favorite stories.

I needed that reminder that the best moments in our lives are often the unexpected ones where nothing goes according to plan. As a mother, I drive myself nuts trying to puppet-master everything into going perfectly. A perfect vacation. A perfect memory. A perfectly clean house. (Ha ha, OK I threw that one in there because it’s something I want, not necessarily something I'll ever have.)

But time and time again, there are these moments that are completely imperfect. And without fail, those are the moments I remember most fondly — not the picture-perfect ones that go without a hitch.

It’s the moments such as when we were supposed to go skiing but ended up on the side of the road in 8-degree weather with a naked baby dangling in the air covered in vomit. Or the time when we spent 20 minutes as a family trying to decide whether the brown stuff smeared on the banister was chocolate or poop (spoiler alert: It wasn’t chocolate). Or when our heat went out in the dead of winter and we all snuggled together camping-style for a night.

Each time, my initial reaction was, “Oh no. This is terrible.” But all those imperfect memories bonded our family together and even now make the best stories to tell and retell.

When that mullet memory popped up on my Facebook last week, my heart melted a little. I remembered that little chubby toddler face, so proud of her new hairstyle. I remember hugging her and all of us laughing in the kitchen. If it hadn’t been for the unexpected disaster that day, I wouldn’t even remember that afternoon.

Life is imperfect. Motherhood is filled with U-turns and missed exits and other detours that in the moment seem like a catastrophe. But this week, I’m trying to remember that most of the imperfect blips are fixable and sometimes even lead to more perfection than we can ever imagine.

And I know when I look back on these years raising my children, those moments that didn’t go according to plan will be the ones I miss the most.

Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, she discusses it all while her daughters dive-bomb off the couch behind her and her newborn son wins hearts with his dimples.

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