Perfectionism by definition is the refusal to reject any standard short of perfection.
When I sit back and think about it, perfectionism is the main trigger for my anxiety. It is the main reason why I say I have had a “hard day” with my kids. Or why I get frustrated with my husband.
The need for perfectionism has stolen so much joy from my heart.
You see I have set all of these unrealistic expectations in my head that I feel pressured to carry out.
When I fall short of these expectations, feelings of guilt and doubt of worthiness creep in. Some days even anger.
The saddest part about this whole situation is I am the only one that is placing these expectations upon myself. It is all from my own inner dialogue inside my head.
I am definitely one to envision what the future looks like, or I should say, how I expect it to play out. But when the actual time comes and the reality alters from what I have planned out, I freak out.
The let down from not meeting my expectation becomes heartbreaking, ultimately stealing my joy. It is a frustrating habit that I have had most of my life.
After some time of working with my therapist with dealing with my anxiety, I have come to see how so many of my emotional problems are my expectations. If only I could get rid of them completely.
Read more about my journey with anxiety here.
When I became pregnant I envisioned what motherhood may be like, the type of mother I would be, and also how my kids would behave. I know I am not alone in daydreaming about these situations and hoping they play out just the way I hope them to be.
Well, obviously life does not always work out as we have planned. In fact it rarely ever does.
Here are some hard truths that I have realized:
Motherhood is a lot harder at times than I thought it would be. Because I am not in control of my time and my daughter’s behavior,
Sometimes I am not the mom I wish to be, I can be impatient, angry, and short with my daughter. These are the feelings I experience when I am disappointed or feeling out of control.
My daughter is not perfect and has her mama’s temper. My daughter is her own person who observes how I handle difficult situations.
During my three years of motherhood, I have gained plentiful knowledge about myself that I wish I would have observed sooner.
Perfectionism and the need to control situations are not traits that I am proud of. But they are traits that I have learned and been living with for some time now.
Luckily I have been able to identify how these traits truly impact my life and how they make it difficult for me to enjoy life in the present moment. Perfectionism makes it hard to accept life as is. Without trying to force the outcome that I wanted in the first place.
I think all moms can agree that being a mom is hard, brutally hard in fact.
You do your best at making sure all of your family’s needs are met, the house is in order, financial responsibilities are met, and then after all that, THEN you think about your needs.
After having some difficult days adjusting to being a mom of two young children, I started observing why I was having these feelings.
Most of the time it came back to the desire to control and perfectionism – things not going how I felt they should have.
My oldest daughter, Melina, is almost three. Let me tell you, she is full of personality and opinions! She knows what she likes and what she does not. Melina has her ideas of what is considered fun and what is not.
She has feelings from situations that occur that differ from the feelings that I have from the same situations.
Melina is her own person.
She is not a puppet or a barbie doll under my complete control. She is human, experiencing her own desires, interests, emotions, and actions.
Can I be honest with you?
I forget that sometimes.
I forget that it is not my job to control her.
I forget how awful and annoying that would feel to her.
When I sit back and think about our difficult days I see that they are difficult for both of us. We had different emotions, intentions, and both were disappointed with the others.
It saddens me to observe how many parents act as if they should be their child’s dictator. It’s even harder for me to realize that I too fall into this pattern.
The desire to control our children steals our joy from parenthood. It makes our children feel as if our love is conditional. “If you don’t listen to me I won’t treat you respectfully.” We are not directly saying these words to our children but we are communicating it through our facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language.
That is not a message we want to send to our children.
Lately, I have been trying to take a step back to remind myself that the only person I am in control of is myself.
I must work on me in order to transform my mindset. Setting unrealistic expectations is a sure way to have bad days filled with disappointment. If you to catch yourself doing this, call it out. Realize that it is okay not to have everything the way you want it.
In order to let go of perfectionism, you must get over the idea of comparing yourself to someone else.
I never realized all of the social pressure in motherhood. But let me tell you it is heavy!
Here is where I am letting go of the perfectionism in my motherhood right now…
It is okay if the house gets messy.
Better yet it is okay if people see my house messy…this has been a real trigger for me. Ask my husband! I used to rush around cleaning before someone came but now I try to resist that urge.
My daughter is in the stage of dumping her toys out and then in five minutes moving on to the next task. So if I compete with her of cleaning up after her every time that happens, I am most definitely going to lose that battle and become irritated.
Instead, I have agreed to two pick up times, before naptime and bedtime.
Letting go of being so strict on the food Melina consumes.
My husband and I have tried our best to make sure that our daughter is consuming healthy foods. It is very frustrating trying to guide her to select healthy choices in a world of some many temptations.
Sometimes I think we have stressed ourselves out more than it is worth, especially when we are out. Now I am okay if we splurge here or there as long as I know she is eating nutritious foods majority of the time.
I am not in control of what she eats when she is in someone else’s care and that is okay.
Restricting TV time.
Gosh, this one is hard for me. I have extreme mom guilt on the days that we have a lazy movie day. Even though most days we are out and about or playing intentionally at home.
I seem to get hung up on those few days where the TV is on a bit longer than normal. Since having Delilah, we have had more screen time to occupy Melina during Delilah’s feeds. Setting realistic expectations and realizing this is only a phase helps me eliminate the mom guilt.
Being the Mom I Wish To Be
I have read several parenting books informing myself of different parenting styles. Somedays I feel like I got this whole motherhood gig down and then other days I feel that I am failing miserably.
I get discouraged that I can’t respond to my daughter’s needs the way I would like to. I still lose my temper, I still seek control, and I still react emotionally.
But I am learning. I am proud of far I have come and the habits that I have changed in order to become a better mom.
At the end of the day, I am human, just like my children. My children are fed, provided a safe home, and loved unconditionally. That is what truly matters.
We are going to have bad days. Our tired days. Our days where it feels like nothing is going right. It is okay if somedays I am just there to cuddle and love on them on the couch instead of being the “Pinterest mom”.
Life is messy. And I am learning that it is okay.
Remember everything is about balance.
I will continue to learn to let go of perfectionism in motherhood and choose joy instead.
I will choose to see the good in the chaos.
What are some areas you struggle with perfectionism? Comment below!