The truth is out. Being perfect is overrated. Many opinions are pointing in this direction, especially amongst moms. "Moms can't possibly do it all," they say. "Give us some slack," they beg.
"Doing it all is too much pressure," we all think.
The term "supermom" was coined in the 70's, referring to women who were raising children, performing the duties of a housewife, and being a bread-winner. By such a definition, any woman who even attempts all of those is a supermom to me. Unfortunately, this title has leached into present day society, as the ultimate compliment to a woman in the world of children, and even becoming a sarcastic dig at those who try to do their best. Perfection is equated with the super-ness of your mom skills. In my circles of my acquaintances, many of the things that earn you that title, have very little to do with being a mother, and have more to do with impressing other people.
When I first hopped on the blog wagon, I was nursing a baby, and spent a decent chunk of time everyday, either composing a post, or reading those of my favorite bloggers while baby fed. I can remember being at my mom's house, swinging my daughter on the tire swing outside, regretting that I didn't have a camera to take a picture for my blog. I said to my sister, "If I was a good mom, I'd have my camera to take a picture of this!" My wise sister replied, "You are a good mom because you are spending time with your child. You don't need to take a picture to prove it." Or something to that effect. That is what I heard her say, anyway. How grateful I was to her for opening my eyes! Reading blogs about vacations, and outings, and travels made me feel like we were the most uninteresting people on the planet. I will admit, I started my blog for me, as an exercise to get out of my comfort zone, by sharing my thoughts, as well as a way to document family happenings, etc., but I also sought approval. My readership consists of about four people, all related to me, so I wasn't expecting grand accolades, but I was seeking approval nonetheless. I wanted what I was writing about to impress someone. I wanted the pictures I posted to convince them we were having fun, when all that mattered was that we were spending time together.
Perfectionism is a double edged sword. On one side, we require so much from ourselves that when we do not meet the mark, we feel inadequate. On the other side, we know that we never can be perfect in everything we do, so we begin to give up, and tell ourselves that it is okay to not try.
Finding the balance between the extremes is where we find happiness. Knowing that we can never do it all is realistic. Recognizing the load we can handle, is vital. We are all different. Different schedules, hobbies, jobs, family make-up, ambitions. I know it can be hard not to feel bad when the neighbor kids go to karate every afternoon, and your kids don't go because it's not in your budget, or you have too many other demands on your time, but the privilege of every mother and father is to decide what is right for their kids, within their circumstances. It doesn't make the neighbor mom better than you, or you better than her. There are reasons we shouldn't judge each other. It breeds feelings of inadequacy. Accepting others, and knowing they accept you is where we should try for perfection.
Personally, I have found my standards for perfection have changed over time. I don't care as much about the way I wrap gifts, or making something homemade for every baby shower I attend. However, some things, like trying to be obedient to God, have not changed. And while I may not meet that standard as completely as I'd like, I do strive to become better and improve, and correct my errors. For me, the spiritual things are far more important than whether I styled my kids' hair before school, or clipped there fingernails last night. Those things are important too, and have their place, but how I fold my towels has no bearing on my worth. I hope that amongst my virtues are the way I treat others, and my willingness to serve God. And if my towel folding earns a merit, I'll take it, but it's more likely to be due to the fact that they were folded in record time, not that they looked neat.
Some days, my perfect is to finish my "to do" list, no matter how poorly some of the tasks were done. Some days, my perfect is to do whatever I have to do to get a perfect cake done by a certain time. And some days, my perfect is knowing the basic needs of my family have been met, even though absolutely nothing else got done. There are lots of days when my "perfect" is not met, and I need an extension. And that is okay.
I wish my daughter always had a bow in her hair. I wish my sons clothes were perfectly placed in their drawers. I wish I had desire to clean my windows. I wish I folded all of my laundry as soon as it came out of the dryer. I wish I still made my daughter's dresses. I wish I had super fun things for my kids to do every Saturday. I wish I were more consistent. I wish I wanted to exercise. I wish I loved grocery shopping, and had time to coupon. I wish a lot of things, but the thing I wish for the most is for my children to be kind, to be tolerant, to do their best, and to be happy. It's not to be perfect.
I don't think we should throw the perfection out the window. Doing something perfectly is good. It is great! It just depends on what your perfect is, and if you did the best you could, within the circumstances you were given. I firmly believe that We should always try to do our best, at whatever We do, but I also know that it doesn't have to be better than Everyone Else's.