Monday, July 15, 2013

Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist

When I had my first son, my goal was to raise the smartest, most talented, most well-behaved, best dressed child to grace the face of the Earth. When people saw him they would turn to their own children and exclaim, “There goes little Jack, why can’t you be more like him?”

After Baby #3, my new goal is to keep them alive. And not screw them up too badly.

In school, I was the type of student who not only desired an ‘A’ on every project, it had to be the BEST project in the class. This would be the project that the teacher would hold up as an example to the rest of the class of how this project should be done.

I know. I’m insane, or as I like to call myself: a Perfectionist.

I once heard that perfectionism is just another form of pride. Pride: as in gauging my own self-worth by my ability to impress others. Since I had obviously failed to learn this lesson on my own, the good Lord, in His infinite wisom, gave me (a type-A, goal-oriented, list-obsessed perfectionist) 3 children in 3.5 years.

Announcing Baby #3
Nothing serves as a remedy to pride and perfectionism like small children. They are naturally self-centered, needy, demanding little mirrors of your own shortcomings. Thank goodness they’re cute. They do not care that your vase in the foyer contributes to the overall “House Beautiful” aesthetic that Mommy is trying to create. They think it looks like a great place to hide Matchbox cars. Or perhaps it would be something fun to smash. 

This "perfect" photo was achieved through the use of bribes, threats and Photoshop.
I’ve thought about writing a blog for a while, but I could never come up with the “perfect” clever title. Not to mention that there are already about a million other fantastic Mommy blogs, therefore mine couldn’t possibly be the BEST, so why even bother??

Junk food. Very useful for bribes.
I am normally a pretty private person. I don’t like to open myself up too much because then someone might (gasp!) discover that I’m not actually perfect. Just the thought of posting this on the internet for the whole world to see makes me break out into a cold sweat. But one thing I’ve finally learned since becoming a mother is that people really hate perfect. Sure, we all love to create Pinterest boards of the perfect life we will never actually have, but what we really respond to is imperfection.

Case in point:

When my then 2-year-old son Jack started having some sleeping issues, I asked around for some advice. One new mom told me that “my 8-month-old is a PERFECT sleeper because we have had him on a strict schedule from day one!” Gag.

Another friend told me that she should definitely not be giving advice because the only way she gets her sons to bed is to lie between them until they fall asleep. She then s-l-o-w-l-y untangles herself, sneaks out of the room and prays to God they sleep through the night or she will have to start the horrid process all over. I wanted to hug her. Other people have sleep issues too! Maybe I’m not failing as a parent after all!!

(Side note: The best advice came from some very experienced mothers in my Bible study group. They suggested I turn the doorknob around so I could lock him in his room until he tires of screaming and eventually collapses from exhaustion. If I was uncomfortable with that I could always saw off the top part of his door so I could peek over and check on him every so often. Man, I love those ladies.)

So here goes nothing. I’m exposing my messy, silly, crazy, imperfect life with young children. It’s part therapy and partly to record this chapter of life because when friends ask “So, what have you been up to?” I truly can’t remember.

See, kids! I took you strawberry picking one time!