I’m a recovering perfectionist. In fact, during job interviews, I used to claim perfectionism as my biggest weakness because I believed it to be more a medal of honor.
As a mother, perfectionism is a really high bar to set for oneself. My husband has always said God gave us children to humble us. He is right about this, just don’t tell him; I’ve convinced him I’m always the right one in the family.
I spent way too much time worrying about how things looked when my children were younger. For years, I spent every Friday night cleaning the house just in case someone stopped by over the weekend. Heaven forbid if anyone saw my dirty floors.
I worried about what my children’s teachers thought. Being a teacher myself added extra pressure. What would they think if the “teacher’s” kids didn’t do their homework? What if they failed a test?
Perhaps what concerned me most was what my friends and family may have said if they knew how imperfect I really was. Thank goodness Facebook wasn’t around when my children were young. Those “perfect” Facebook family facades would have done me in.
I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I believe society adds extra expectations on mothers. I certainly have my own anecdotal evidence to support that belief. For example, comments about the selfishness and greediness of mothers who chose to work outside the home caused me tremendous amounts of guilt.
No matter how hard I tried, I never felt I was enough. More than twenty years later, I can finally say I’ve raised the white flag.
If I had to do it again, I would put down the dust rag and take my kids to the park. I would spend hours building a blanket fort in the living room. Then the whole family would eat dinner in the fort on the semi-clean floor. If I had it to do all over again, I would worry less and play more.
My kids can validate my growth. If someone drops by my house unexpectedly, they could testify my floors may be dirty. They would say that now I can sit in a cluttered living room and draw.
I also hope they would say that I am less focused on their achievements and a lot more fun to be around.
Reading Bréne Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, was an eye-opener. In reading that book, I learned the value of self-improvement sans the perfectionism. She states it better.
“Healthy striving is self-focused: “How can I improve?” Perfectionism is other-focused: “What will they think?” ~Bréne Brown
Maybe someday, if I’m blessed with grandchildren, we can make a fort and leave it up all weekend on my semi-clean floors. I doubt they’ll care.