A Rant: In Pursuit of Perfectionism

I told a dear friend the other day that I don’t want to be perfect; I want to be ME!  There really is no perfection in parenting, in life, in homemaking; there is only the journey.  I am so tired of seeing wonderful mothers beat themselves up day in and day out over not being perfect.  Not only do we not have to be perfect, but why do we WANT to be perfect and pass this striving for “perfection only” onto  our children, especially onto our daughters?

Yes, there are certain truths in parenting and in life to work with.  I believe that.  Some of you have asked if  I am perfect! Hah! No!  The people who know me in real life can only attest to my utter lack of perfection!  And, if you look at the “About” section you will see I started this blog because there were so many things I needed to learn regarding parenting that I didn’t want anyone else to also feel like they had to re-create the parenting wheel.  So I share what I have learned, what I think, what I value here and you can decide if it resonates with you or not.  Decide if it fits with your family or not.  Be mindful and make your choices wisely, but please do not punish yourself for the learning process that the journey holds. 

This blog entails the journeys of so many different families.  I have said this before, that honestly this blog is about less than my own personal parenting journey; it is about the journeys of the  thousands of families I have worked with , observed, counseled, assisted and loved.  I love children.  All of them.  I have worked with so many as a neonatal physical therapist, as a pediatric physical therapist, as a lactation consultant, as a homeschooling consultant, as a worker in church programs, as a friend, a neighbor.  I have worked in the inner city, I have worked in the suburbs.  Those difficult children no one else likes?  Those are the ones I like.  The ones no one wants to deal with because of their special needs, their challenges, their attitudes?  I love those children the best.    I can tell you what I have seen work for so many different families with so many different types of children from birth through age twenty-one.  And yes, those teenagers were also some of my favorites!  I see the precious gift that all of them are.

So why, as parents, as mothers, as the people who set the tone in our homes, do we waste precious time with these beautiful children  feeling guilty, feeling inadequate and stewing about things gone?    I have literally seen wonderful mothers who have taken the  one “wrong” thing they think they did and let it color their past parenting history, ruin the present moment and tarnish the future that has not even arrived.  One bad moment does not a terrible mother make! 

I am not suggesting you throw peaceful parenting out the window – not at all!  I am suggesting you have ideals, I am suggesting you continually strive and work to be the best parent you can be!  But most of all, I am suggesting that you accept yourself as human.   I am suggesting that you have more fun in your family and worry a whole lot less.

Sometimes I feel as if I am running; so much to do and not enough time here on earth to do it all…… If I could do one thing in my life outside of my own journey with my husband and children,  it would be to change on a major scale across this country HOW families view their children.  I want to help mothers especially.  I want to help mothers create a mindful family life, to convince them to have realistic expectations for their children and to help them understand what those might be, to help them in their striving to be gentle parents, to help them  understand the preciousness of this time and how to really connect with their children.  I want them to understand how to set the tone in their own homes, how to hold the space for these tiny beings who are learning, and how to do it with joy!

Hold an image of yourself in your mind’s eye as being the mother you want to be; imperfections, flaws and all!  Those things, all of it, is what makes us who we are!  Hold your children close!  Tell them you are glad the storm of anger passed and let’s all get our hands busy and nurture each other and our homes!   Let’s show compassion for one another when we are just human!  Let’s laugh and have joy and have fun together!  No wallowing in the weaknesses, just do better next time!  Life is so short, it is so fleeting, just love one another!

Many blessings on you all tonight,

Carrie

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14 thoughts on “A Rant: In Pursuit of Perfectionism

  1. That was the most BEAUTIFul and edifying entry!!!!! Thank you so very much for warming my soul! I, like you, have a deep love and adoration for children..I spent 19 years raising my first 6 children while having a wonderful daycare in my home filled with souls that I have adored from infancy through adulthood! Now I am surrounded by three young sons, and grandkids in my care…my husband says we run an orphanage for heave…and truly we do! We have a 9 yr old bipolar, a 7 year old autistic son and a 5 year old son who has severe asthma that requires frequent hospitalizations! SO my days are FILLED with imoperfections…AND with daily SMALL miracles that I can dwell on when I look back over the time we spent each day. Some days are smoother, and some days…well, lets just say I must plan on THOSE days being a regular part of our fabric of life, and still try to just enjoy these souls as much as possible. Life is one long, sweet lesson in simple daily moments…if we lose sight of that, we miss the whole point!

  2. yesterday my seven year old had a difficult day. A lot of emotion. She’s the most loving joyful person I’ve ever met, so you can imagine how it goes in the other direction. Well she crossed a line, and ran right into the brick wall that is mama. She stormed off, more embarrassed and hurt. Later when I went to comfort her, she says she CANNOT control her temper, she’d been trying for seven years! It’s just not going to happen. I laughed out loud of course. I told her there are grown-ups still struggling. I gave examples from myself. I said she will learn, because she is surrounded by people who love her, forgive her and let her try again.
    That we live among people who love and forgive is exactly what gives us the courage to try again and the ability to grow.
    We are all perfect, just the way we are. Change is different than growth. We don’t need to be fixed.

  3. Thank you. I needed to hear that. I feel so defeated when I can’t control my silly anger/frustration with a (brace yourself) 4 year old. At least I modeled deep breaths and apologizing this week.

  4. I agree! Thank you for sharing! I think many of us need to read this and remind ourselves of this from time to time! I’m really happy to wake up to this reminder today. Thank you!

  5. Dear Carrie,
    I was baffled when I read this post.
    This morning I woke up completely convinced of being a total failure as a parent. I was really sad. Nothing in particular happened yesterday but my expectations before having my child didn’t even consider how difficult it would have been to be a parent.
    So when my newborn cried I felt there was something wrong in what I was doing, when “tantrums” began once again I thought it shouldn’t have happened: if you do the right thing as a parent children will be quite, calm, nice, never complain, never oppose. With all the stuff about imitation I thought my child would never throw things having not seen me doing that! I don’t know from where I got this image but it was-is so strong!! Pure ignorance with all my studies in philosophy!
    I’m learning that children are learning how to become a person, they are growing, it’s a process. But I still strive in this: it’s hard for me to distinguish when some behaviours belong naturally to her developmental stage and-or they are not appropriate and it becomes a matter of education (where I feel responsible for) and of temperament. Even if there are books, precious blogs like yours and Donna’s, I’m the mother so it’s up to me interpreting signs. I do observe a lot of children of any age I got to know since I started my motherhood but sometimes I’m missing the whole: if you see the child when is little and then when it’s grown up you can get the whole picture. I’m still much sorrounded by children under 7.
    Waldorf education being so strong and absolute in her beliefs is a guide for me but also a pain: it always pictures an ideal, a perfect ideal. Life means also to confront with one’s real conditions even economical and social. I’ve seen lots of perfectionist mothers, me icluded, in my daughter’s Waldorf Kindergarten! Looking for the perfect place. While in “common” kids kindergarten I must admit I sometimes see more relaxed mothers not so stressed about the colours, shapes and other ilttle details surely important but too much when you pursuit a perfect aesthetic form.

    Grazie, Carrie, grazie davvero.
    Federica

  6. Just wanted you to know how unequivocally these words sum up the support and guidance I have found from your writing here. You are doing the work you are so called to do, and I and my family have benefited tremendously. Thank you!!

    “I want to help mothers especially. I want to help mothers create a mindful family life, to convince them to have realistic expectations for their children and to help them understand what those might be, to help them in their striving to be gentle parents, to help them understand the preciousness of this time and how to really connect with their children. I want them to understand how to set the tone in their own homes, how to hold the space for these tiny beings who are learning, and how to do it with joy!”

  7. Thank you for writing this. So beautiful…the sentiment behind it as well as the writing. This is just the heartfelt and honest advice I have been wanting to hear.

  8. Definitely my favorite blog post- Ever! Thank you for this post, I have printed a copy out to reread when I feel less than perfect (I guess I will be reading it quite a lot!)

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