I will open this post by admitting that I am a recovering perfectionist. I am, it’s true, and it was really bad. I wanted my life and everything in it to be perfect. Absolutely perfect. No waves. No imperfections. Let me tell you about the pressure, stress and anxiety that came with having this narrative for so long. The fact that I thought I could have it all and do it all, with a good quality of life, just was not realistic in my opinion. I had my moment of realization that was forced upon me at the end of 2018 when I crashed. It wasn’t good. I had 100% lost myself and my sense of joy.
I realize now, though, that it needed to happen or I would have never made the changes needed in order to fix my perception. I came to realize that something had to give. I was getting to a place where I felt sick all the time, burnt out and just not happy. It wasn’t the life I wanted for myself or for my family.
There was a point for many years that I was trying to do it all. I was trying to keep up with what I thought my life was supposed to look like because of what I was seeing around me. Then I realized I had to determine what was important in MY life. What aligned with MY values. So that meant I had to figure out what things were nice to do vs. what things needed to happen. This came into play for both essential things to maintain a home and also fun things that I wanted to do with the family.
For example, for the fall I have a checklist that is a mile long of all the things we MUST do. Well, there are only so many weekends in the season and the reality is, it can’t all happen. I really wanted to take the kids to do a corn maze, but I just couldn’t make it work. It pinged my heart, but you know what, we survived. I don’t think my kids knew either way. I had to surrender to it. You know what, maybe next year!
I’ll be honest and own that I think a lot of the guilt and push for perfectionism comes from the fact that I am a mama that works outside the home. It wasn’t until this year that I realized, thanks to the work with my counselor, that even though I work outside of the home my children do not question my love for them. This was a big moment for me. With all of the work I have done on myself, it has allowed me to come to terms with the fact that I can be a mom & have a career. It might not look perfect, but I can promise you that I sure am giving it my all.
I want to say something here because I think a lot of people worry about this. If you are a working parent, that does not mean that you are less of a parent. Let me say that again for the people in the back. If you are a parent that works inside (at a paying job) or out of the home, and give your time to a career outside of your family, that does not mean that you are less of a parent. I am not saying that being a stay at home mama is not as important, or less work by any means, please know that. I give all the stay at home mamas SO much credit and love because I don’t think I could do what they do. For this instance, I am just speaking to the parents that give their time outside of their family, because a lot of guilt can be wrapped up in that and I want to name it right here, right now.
If you give some of your time to a career in any capacity, a side hustle, working from home, working forty hours a week outside the home, whatever it looks like, it just means you have to be really intentional with the time that you do have. So that means you need to slow down. That means you need to have patience with your children and yourself. I KNOW, it’s hard. Trust me. I know.
While working outside of the home can be a struggle, it’s all about identifying your priorities. There are times that you are challenged with the fact that the dang holiday party is smack in the middle of your day and you just don’t know how you are going to get into work, get that project done, scoot out in time to make it for the party and then determine if you need to drive thirty minutes back to work to finish the project, before having to pick up the kids at the end of the day. Been there, done that, experiencing that scenario as we speak.
Listen, I might miss some of my children’s big moments and little moments, but I am doing the best I can. I might not be present for all the things, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t show up for them in different ways. Being a parent is so much more than what happens between 9-5PM, it's about supporting them when they have a bad dream. It’s about picking them up early from school and surprising them with an ice cream before dinner.
What I have learned in this last year is that life is a juggling act. Some areas of our lives are rubber balls. If they fall, they will bounce and we can pick them up later. Some areas of our lives are glass balls. If you dropped them, they will crack or even worse, they will shatter. As you can imagine, it would be impossible to fix them if they shattered. It is up to you to determine what areas of your life are the rubber balls and what areas of your life are the glass ones.
I personally have surrendered to the fact that my life is nowhere near perfect. What it is, is loud, messy and chaotic, but full of so much love. This, in my eyes, is healthy, and something I want my kids to feel and remember when they think back on their childhoods. That I was there when it mattered most and that we had the best random dance parties in town!
My hope for you is that you will do the work and let go of the idea that perfection is attainable and that good enough is the new perfect. Let me know in the comments below what areas of your life you have surrendered to, or hope to learn to surrender to. To the fact that this idea of perfection is just not realistic, but that you can feel pretty dang satisfied that good enough is okay with you.
Continue your journey to be the best version of YOU, unapologetically.