By Melanie Sisinni, editor of the Diocese of EriE-News

I’ll admit, in 2017, when I had Stella, I took pride in being a “Pinterest mom.” I ordered a unique embroidered Christmas stocking for her, planned her birthday months in advance and hand-crafted themed treats for different events. By all definitions, I was “extra.” I took pride in being “number one.”

When Gianna came along during the pandemic, I was determined she would have the same experience as Stella. I still planned her birthday — just not so far in advance. There were handmade treats for her party, but they were ordered and made by someone else.

Luca was born in 2022. By that point, I had to learn to be OK with being less-than-perfect. I didn’t have the mental bandwidth to pretend anymore. I tried to fill out every little milestone in his baby book, but it didn’t happen. I wanted to plan his birthday well in advance, with handmade touches, but I ordered plates and napkins on Amazon the week before. I didn’t even send out invitations, instead telling family members, “Be here on this day and this time” via text message.

I love all my kids, and part of me felt (feels) like a failure for not giving Gianna and Luca the same attention that I gave Stella. It took a long time for me to feel “OK” with what I considered a lackluster performance as a mom, and I’m still working on it.

Nothing will humble you faster than trying to get your young children together for family portraits. I try to get a new one every year. Sometimes things go smoothly, but most of the time, no one wants to sit, and the kids run around while I beg them to smile for a few pictures. Several friends in the photography business have assured me that it’s not just my kids who act this way. It’s ALL KIDS. Yes, we eventually got that “perfect family photo” for Christmas cards and profile pictures, but my expectations going into the day were way too high. I wasn’t allowing my kids to be kids and was only thinking about projecting to others that I had everything in order.

Spoiler alert: I do not have everything in order. No one does.

You know who doesn’t care about any of this? My kids. They don’t care about being “the best” or “number one.” They care about spending time together and having a good day.

If we’re honest with ourselves, it doesn’t matter how much time we spend burning our fingers while hot gluing tissue paper to a cardboard cut-out number 2 (this happened). It doesn’t matter if we fill in the blanks in the baby book a few months later or not at all. What matters is the time we spend with our loved ones and the connections we make with them every day. Our relationship with our children is very similar to the relationship that God wants with us.

A personal connection to God matters more than what we do to “show off.” God doesn’t care if you’re perfect. He doesn’t expect you to be. He expects that you “check in” with him every day. If you don’t know where to start, try conversing like you would with your kids. Tell him how your day was, what went well and what you want to improve on. Be thankful for the things you were able to do during the day.

Prayer doesn’t have to be perfect, and neither do you.