I used to be really good at creating an illusion of perfection. For example, when I hosted play dates, my house could easily be mistaken for a model home. Shining, clutter free counter tops with a seasonal Yankee Candle burning for ambience. Swept floors. Organized play room. Craft station set up with toddler sized smocks (Pumpkin painting, I’m talking about YOU!) Festive snacks prepared and presented on a wicker tray. Sweet little boys with matching outfits. Reputation management at its finest.
Kind of obnoxious, right? I would bet I made my guests feel more uncomfortable than welcome. If I’m being completely honest, I made myself frenetic with all the beforehand straightening, arranging, and ordering, but in a lot of ways, having everything picture-perfect felt so normal. So necessary.
Almost immediately after I had my daughter, I felt the Earth shift a bit too quickly under my feet. I completely lost my footing and with every tortured effort to keep up, to keep moving forward, reality as I knew it slipped further and further away. I was filled to the brim with feelings of excitement and anxiousness, joy and sadness. I was eager to participate in life and at the same time wanting to retreat under my covers. Forget perfection. I was learning how to breathe again. It was at that point I forced myself to reevaluate how I was managing life.
I have always categorized my approach to motherhood as “Doing the best that I can.” It was only until ‘my best’ unexpectedly changed that I realized how hard I was actually trying to be perfect. Funny, in my head, I thought I was doing a good job of picking my battles and parenting with a generally laissez-faire approach. With the addition of my third child, I rallied hard to be able to put forth the same work that was required to maintain some semblance of order in our household. When it didn’t yield the same results as it had in the past – I was frustrated and disappointed in myself. I didn’t feel like I was strong enough to be the mom I wanted to be – the mom that I had been – despite my very best efforts.
I fought the good fight. We found our new groove. I blinked and, as it often does, the season passed. I forgave myself for not being able to meet my expectations of perfection and accepted my new best with open arms because in fact, it’s not a consolation prize. All that energy trying to maintain an unachievable goal is now refocused on loving my babies better. I learned that my love is not felt through presenting a showroom home or coordinating lavish play dates, but instead, through the actions of a happy and more peaceful mom – a mom that is making it up as I go, day by day. A mom who is all in and loving them with everything I have.
These days, instead of play dates, my preparation and planning efforts are centered on my kids’ school and extra-curricular activities. My objective is progress, not perfection, but I still have some every day expectations for myself as a domestic goddess/momanger:
Backpacks packed with all necessary school paperwork – OR at least – emptied of the previous day’s work
“Awesome” (as defined by my four year old) clothes – OR at least – clean and weather appropriate clothes
Lunches packed – OR at least – money for hot lunch
Clean kitchen nightly….well, I’m still working on that one….
Admittedly, I’ve set the bar pretty low. That’s ok. I’m pretty sure my friends love me more for it.
I’m all set with perfection. Real feels just right.