Friday, November 5, 2010

Perfection

Is there really such a thing?  Of course not!  So why do I try SO HARD???

I am a stay at home mom.  I made the choice several years ago when I was a teacher.  I loved teaching--high school English--too much, really.  Having two children of my own made me take a good look at what I was putting my time into.  I think I had the potential to be a really good teacher, and I had the potential to be a good parent, but my perfectionism got in the way of both pursuits.  Many an afternoon was spent trying to make the perfect test or plan the perfect lesson, and by the time I picked up my children from aftercare and got home I was so mentally exhausted that I could not really be available.  And that just depressed me.  But being a parent also kept me from perfection as a teacher.  I just didn't have the time to spend grading and regrading paper after paper to give the students the writing experience I thought they needed.

Ugh.  Just thinking about it tires me out.  The choice was obvious:  my 2 kids over 150 other kids.  But am I the perfect parent now?  What does that even mean?

Progress, not perfection.  That's the mantra, right?  And I have made progress.  Going into my fourth year, I still have trouble structuring my time and feeling like what I do is valuable because it is not quantifiable.  I'm around more.  I serve lunch at school.  I go to all the parties.  I plan really elaborate birthday parties.  I lead the Brownie Troop for my daughter.  I'm really good at helping with homework.  I run the Book Fair at the school.  I do a lot of dishes, but it's never really enough.  I plan our family vacations (down to the second if I can!).  I'm not particularly good at organization or cleaning or having any control over a group of 15 second graders, so more often than not I feel like a failure even after I have worked my heart out.

It's not all intellectually stimulating, but emotionally, on the whole, rewarding.  If you ask my kids, they would probably not hesitate to say I'm a great mom.  But they are not teenagers yet, so take that for what it is worth.  They have been so patient and understanding with my health issues.  They keep saying, "Mom, when is this diet going to be over?"--mainly because they really want to share their Halloween candy with me.

And just when I should be slowing down for my health, I have been trying ever harder to prove myself to them because I really don't want to disappoint them.  I just threw a huge Halloween birthday party for my daughter, complete with a haunted house and treasure hunt, and it just about gave me a nervous breakdown!  It's an 8 year old's birthday party!  Thank goodness my husband didn't obsess over it the way I did and helped me see it from a different perspective.  I saw the party through on Saturday, and on Sunday basically collapsed.

The whole perfectionism issue was gnawing on me all weekend, though.  When the kids came in to ask me to do yet another project, I finally just said, I'm tired.  I'm not supermom.  And I think they are adjusting to the idea.  For the first time, Mom is admitting that she can't do everything.  And isn't that a healthy thing to teach them in the long run?  I'm not perfect, they are not perfect, and expectations need to be appropriate and healthy.  Compassion is key.

I'm certainly not doing this diet perfectly!  Mummy dogs and cauldron cookies are not on the non-processed whole foods list, I'm pretty sure.  I need to get back on the wagon, but in the meantime, compassion with myself is really important.  I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!  Thank you Stuart Smalley!

Have an imperfect day, and revel in it!


1 comment:

  1. I love the saying "progress not perfection'! I need to remember that! It is very helpful even today. I recenlty had a nervous breakdown and somedays I get frustrated because I feel I am getting nowhere. I have to realize I am making progress, I am not perfect, nor will I ever be. I just have to focus on small baby steps of progress.
    Thanks!
    Bernice
    http://livingthebalancedlife.com

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