Thursday, October 25, 2012


The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. 
Anna Quindlan 

I wouldn't say that in general I am a perfectionist.  I am usually more than happy with good enough.  I am lousy at being precise.  For example, when I paint words or hang pictures on my walls I never measure because 1) I don't want to and 2) I can do a better job if I don't.  I trust my eye more than my math.

I also think it's better to dive into a project without any sort of notion that it will be perfect.  Losing (or never picking up) the idea of perfection gets things done.   

There are some insidious ways that I am more of a perfectionist than I should be though.  I recognize how absurd my perfectionist desires are sometimes.  I would love my house to be perfect but I would have to spend all my time on that pursuit and I think thwart my children in unhappy ways if my house were really going to be perfect.  I wouldn't be happy if I spent all my time making my house perfect.  I would love to be completely and perfectly physically fit but I don't want to spend the time that would take either.  There's too much I'd have to forgo.

It's a little easier for me to excuse myself from perfection when I know the trade off isn't worth it.

Other times, it's hard for me to release my aspirations. 

My children bring out my desire to be perfect more than anything else.  I want my children to be perfectly happy.  I want to meet their needs perfectly.  I want to always be who they need me to be when they need me.  (I want to have a perfect knowledge of when they need me to step in and when they need me to step back.)  I want to always say the perfect thing and find the perfect consequence to their behavior.  I want to keep them perfectly safe, allow them perfect opportunities and give them perfect Christmas presents.  Oh, and doesn't it seem to follow that if my children are perfect then I am a perfect mother?

(I think I should switch and insist on perfectly straight pictures on my walls.  That would be a lot easier.)

Being a perfectionist is sort of irrational.  It won't make us happy or help us to reach our authentic potential.  

I will never be a perfect mother.  Never.  For one thing, just when I am beginning to figure something out, the children get older and circumstances change.  It isn't exactly an even playing field.  For another thing, I'm imperfect.

Have no fear of perfection.  You'll never reach it.
Salvadore Dali

The best I can do, the best any of us can do, is keep trying.  And we will.  I don't know very many people that don't want to succeed.  We need to give ourselves a break though.  We need to realize that no one we love really expects us to be perfect anyway.

A few weeks ago, I burst into tears when Adam was in Europe and schedules were colliding and one of my children was sick and I couldn't meet everyone's needs.  Braeden gathered me up in his arms and patted me like I was an unreasonable toddler.  He assured me that everything was fine and then he said, "What do you need me to do?"

He didn't expect me to be perfect, or even anything close to perfect.  It was sort of a revelation.

When they were babies, my relationship with our children was based on me doing everything for them and them rewarding me with smiles and cuteness.  Along the way though, as the challenges keep coming as I'm trying to keep up with parenting children that change every day, they have learned that I'm a person too.  Despite my best efforts to keep the secret from them, they know I'm not perfect.  And they are OK with that.  

Maybe more than a perfect mother, my kids could use a mother that doesn't freak out.

Hmm.  I'll work on that.


Marianne said...

Braeden's a good kid.

Olivia Cobian said...

Wow! Marianne's comment showed up! Bradeden is a good kid and you're a good mama.


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