“You’re perfect,” said my husband after I’d had a particularly rough morning.
“No, I’m not,” I said.
“Yes, you are,” he responded.
“I don’t want to be perfect.”
Despite my husband’s sweet (and maybe delusional) comment, I am not, in fact, perfect. Nor do I want to be – which is something I didn’t realize until I said it out loud to Chris last week.
Since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be perfect. To be the best at everything I do. If I wasn’t the best, it wasn’t worth doing. I wasn’t always able to be perfect at everything, but I sure tried my hardest.
Motherhood has changed me. Instead of striving for perfection, I am striving for happiness. And being happy means trying my hardest, but making mistakes. It means focusing on what’s important, and letting go of what’s not. It means not being so hard on myself.
Anyone who says they are perfect at everything, well, I normally wouldn’t be so bold, but I think they are lying. No one is perfect, despite the face we put out to the world.
I know I’m not the only mom or the only female to struggle with this issue. We have internal and external forces constantly pushing us to be the perfect mother, the perfect spouse, the perfect employee, the perfect friend.
I usually brush aside articles and comments on how social media, popular culture, etc. set unrealistic expectations for women. I’m sure they don’t help the issue, but I think at least for me, the desire to be perfect starts internally rather than from what I see, hear or read. I have a strong need to please and a competitive nature. These combined traits sometimes lead to unrealistic expectations for myself.
I remember reading a script from an interview where a popular newscaster said, “You can’t have it all,” referring to women and the quest to have the perfect home, career and social life.
“She’s wrong,” I thought, “You can have it all if you try hard enough.”
Well, I don’t think she was wrong or right. I don’t think it’s black and white. I think maybe you can have it all, but just not on the same day. Or maybe even on the same day, just not all at the same time.
One of my advisors in college told me, “You can’t be good at everything all at once.” Although they were comforting words at the time, lately they’ve taken on new meaning. I’ve realized I can’t be perfect at all the roles in my life at the same time. When I push myself to my limit on all fronts, it ends in me being stressed to the point of breaking and good at none of my roles.
I recently saw a post on Facebook from a page called A Mighty Girl about raising our daughters to NOT strive for perfection, but instead to focus on authentic happiness. I scrolled past the post, uninterested (I’m not one for self-help books), but now I think I need to revisit this concept. I don’t want AJ to think she has to be perfect. I want her to be happy with herself, imperfections and all.
At the end of the day, AJ doesn’t care if I’m perfect. She cares that I’m there for her, that I love her and that I take care of her. And that I do. Isn’t that what we all really ask of each other anyway?
I’m not perfect, and I’m thankful for that!