The Tyranny of Mommy Perfection

YANG:

Anyone out there think they are perfect?

Ah come on, admit it, we all believe we’re perfect at something (s).  I for one, make the perfect sticky toffee pudding. I know this; I’ve been told this by many a-pudding-eater. We know perfection when we see it too. For instance, That Mom down the road has the perfect kids and Her With the New Car must have a perfect job.  Don’t even get me started on Mrs Always Perfect Hair across the street.

The ideal of being a Perfect Mommy though is monumental. For one, our moms certainly weren’t perfect because we can point out error after flaw that they made raising us. (Those same errors that we swear we’ll never do or say yet we mysteriously find ourselves sounding just like our moms now and again, don’t we? ).  Secondly, we have to be perfect because we have a little person relying on us for everything, trusting us implicitly and we can’t, just can’t, mess them up. The pressure to be a Perfect Mother is immense.

Perfection is a tricky thing. Once you achieve it, you tend to want more of it. You know as well as I that we can’t be perfect at everything we do nor be perfect all the time. We can’t constantly be perfect moms, wives, homemakers, friends, workers, volunteers, citizens, church-goers, etc. Nor can we always have the perfect clothes, hair, nails, attitude, car or house. We just can’t–it’s impossible. After all, perfection is a goal to work towards but is rarely, if only momentarily, achieved. Yet the ideal lives on, tormenting us to be perfect. So what to do?

Me, I’ve decided to pick and choose my “perfection goals.” Some days it’s to be the perfect mom, which broadly entails having a well-fed, groomed and happy child for the day (good memories of the day for all of us, and no tears/bumps/bruises). Other days it’s to create the perfect meal–not only nutritionally well-balanced and not too costly, but also innovative in taste, color and ingredients (one that everyone eats and begs for seconds). Other days my perfection goals are more easy to attain, such as having the perfect workout (calories instantly shed, little sweat, muscles feeling good) or to give myself the perfect mani/pedi (no rough skin found, no nail polish on the furniture, no smearing).  You’re getting the point, right?

Then there are those days that even the idea of striving to some concoction of perfection wilts me. Stops me dead in my tracks. I can’t stop for long with a toddler at home though. So I take a deep breath, stretch my arms up high, throw my head back and let out a deep, fulfilling sigh. It is then that I acknowledge to my Yang Mommy self that I have indeed achieved some goals enough to be happy, I’ve had my fun (because trying to attain a goal without some facet of fun is never a good idea), and I let go. I just let it all go. Lady Perfection releases her grasp on me and floats away on a breeze of contentment.

She’ll be back soon, I know. In the meantime, I congratulate myself for simply getting through the day with a healthy happy child/having warm food on the table/not snacking on brownies/not breaking a nail. Do I ever attain perfection in these goals? Hardly. A semblance yes, but true, real, raw perfection? Ha…I laugh at the idea because I know it’s can’t be done. And I won’t live under the tyranny.

YIN:

I refuse to try to be perfect. Why? Because I know that I can’t be. I came to that decision long before I had my daughter but perfection has really reared its ugly head since she came to us.

With a full time job that takes a lot of my mental energy, a husband who takes almost as much mental energy and a 15 month old child who thinks she’s a superhero and should lift and throw everything, I don’t have the energy to strive for perfection. Because I have no energy.

What would be perfect is if I could sleep through the night without waking as soon as she coughs or mutters in her sleep. What would be perfect would be if my husband and I could sit with our daughter and watch tv quietly without someone crying for a drink (that would be either my husband or my daughter, take your pick). What would be perfect is if I could go to work and arrive on time, not have someone complain about something (myself included) and if everyone just did what they were supposed to. What would be perfect is to take a family vacation with rushing or worrying about how much we’re spending. What would be perfect – okay you get my drift.

Nothing in life is perfect and no one in life is perfect. I have unfortunately known that perfect couple. They got divorced after my friend found out her husband of almost 20 years was cheating on her with someone she thought was her friend. I’ve unfortunately know the great guy with a great family. His wife was cheating on him with a neighbor. And I’ve unfortunately know the perfect employee. They burnt themselves out and had to take a leave of absence.

For me personally it is not worth mine and my family’s sanity to strive to be perfect. If you do you’re reaching for something that you can’t get and will wear you out in the end. Instead of striving to be perfect, I strive to be the best me that I can be. At least for today.

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