Lately, it seems you can find topics in regards to the stresses of being a perfect mother on the Internet, magazines, blogs, TV shows, basically, all things media. I can’t deny that I, myself, haven’t struggled with the thought of wanting to be close to perfect. What does that mean really? Perfect is so subjective. You could ask 10 different people and get 10 different answers. The only way I like to even use that word is when I tell myself or my kids, “You are perfect exactly the way you are. Imperfections, mistakes, mess ups and all.” In fact, I strive to not be perfect. I want my kids to see me mess up, make a mistake. I want my friends and family to see it, too. It’s a ton of pressure to be perfect. And, it’s really no fun. When people know that you are not perfect, all of a sudden, you become more touchable. You become real, approachable, you become a human being.
It has taken me many years to get to this realization. I had, for so long, been a perfectionist. If I couldn’t do something right, I would feel like a disappointment. And when I was determined to achieve something, if I couldn’t get it exactly the way I pictured it, then it would ruin my day. It held me back from speaking my mind because I was afraid if I didn’t say the right thing then I would no longer be considered perfect. It stopped me from trying new things because if I didn’t know how to do it right, then I would be afraid of not looking perfect. I’m not sure if it came with age, with experience, with the many personal development classes I’ve taken, or books and articles I have read, but little by little I have discovered that I no longer want to be perfect, and I have totally accepted that.
In my own community of friends and family, I was always considered perfect, or on a pedestal. I didn’t put myself there, but other people did. In high school I was a cheerleader, and was captain. Perfect. I dated the captain of the soccer team for three years. Perfect. I graduated from high school with honors, went off to study at University of San Diego, and studied abroad in France. Perfect. I joined a sorority and was the Social Chair. Perfect. I was the first in my family to graduate college, and graduated with High Honors. Perfect. Then moved back to Las Vegas where I bought a home, met my future husband and got a dog at 24. Perfect. We had a fairy tale wedding and honeymoon. Perfect. Got pregnant at 29 with my first baby…a boy. Perfect. Two years later had a little girl. Could I seriously be anymore perfect?!?!? Along the way I was trying new things, travelling, and working in different careers. And on the sidelines, people were saying, “Of course it’s happening to her, she’s perfect.” At first I felt complimented, then I felt like people really didn’t know me. Why were they saying that, were they jealous? Were they threatened? Were they saying it to be facetious? Whatever the case, I started to see people confiding in me less and approaching me less. Their idea of perfect was also creating this person who was judging them because they felt they were not perfect. I hated being perfect. The reality is that I really was not. I just didn’t dwell on my mishaps, or I wasn’t afraid to address them, talk about them and move on. So in other’s eyes, it seemed like I had the perfect life, but it was only because I was accepting my life…the good and the bad.
Don’t get me wrong there have been plenty of times when I wasn’t sure if I was perfectly happy with my life. I take each situation as it comes. Deal with one thing at a time, and I’m not afraid to recognize that this may not have been what I had in mind, or planned, but it is what it is so let’s figure it out and keep going. If you want to be perfect, there is no failing. If there is no failing, then there is no experience other than that of being perfect all the time. You don’t know what it’s like to fall and get back up. Or, you may think what you are doing is the perfect plan, and something goes awry and you end up with something else. If you are being perfect, you may miss out on what life has planned for you, versus what you are trying to control about life. For example, I had planned on having three kids. I had a boy and a girl, and everyone would say…Perfect! Now you are done! But I knew I wanted three, that was perfect in my mind. And guess what? I ended up with 4! And all the time people say to me, “I don’t know how you do it.” There is so much that goes through my head that I don’t say to most people, like, it truly does take a village, my older kids are in school all day, and finally, you just do it. If these were your babies, you would just do it, too. It’s not what I had planned, but I couldn’t imagine my life without them. They have made my life perfect.
What I am learning about myself is that I am perfect. I am perfect exactly how I am. I may not always say the right thing at the right time, but when I say it, it’s out there, and now I have to deal with it. I may not make the right choices all the time with my parenting, but when I fail, I let my kids know why it didn’t work for me (or them) and we learn a lesson and move on. A lot of times we laugh at our mistakes. When I mess up with my husband, it’s definitely harder for me to admit I’m not perfect, but that’s the one I’m still working on. It’s important for me that my friends and family see my imperfections and that they know I am OK with them. It makes me feel more human. It makes me feel like I am experiencing life. Being imperfect makes you laugh, makes you cry, and as my mother always says, builds character.
At my daughter’s parent/teacher conference, her teacher literally told me she was perfect. Towards the end of the conversation, she said, “If there is one thing I could tell you about her, it’s that she’s a bit of a perfectionist. She’s sometimes afraid to try something new, or give an answer because she’s afraid of not being perfect.” Having experienced that myself, I do not want that for my daughter. Especially since women are handed the guidebook on how to be perfect when they are given a vagina in utero. She already has to overcome the perfect weight, the perfect style and having perfect friends, that I don’t want her to have to overcome being perfect all the time. Again, making the connection with my intention of creating a universe of possibility for my children through my choice of language, I want my daughter to not be the perfect society dictates, but what she herself, experiences as perfect. It’s my job to show her how to not be perfect and yet, be perfect exactly the way she is.
My definition of perfect has morphed into what I find amazing. I still hear from many women, especially lately, how “amazing” I am. It’s the main reason of the title of my blog…I was often being called a Rock Star Mom, so I went with it as an identity. Yes, I did just have twins, four months ago. Yes, I run 2-3 times a week. Yes, I write a blog and am currently looking to take on writing projects to develop my career as a freelance writer. I cook my kids meals 4-5 times a week, and buy healthy food. I nursed my twins for three months. I involve myself in my kids’ schooling. I find time
for myself, my kids, my husband, and rarely complain about my life. I guess, yeah, I am amazing. But I also surround myself with amazing women who inspire me to be amazing everyday. I have several friends, with and without kids, who have very high powered positions in their careers. They worked their butts off to get there, whether through school or just being smart with marketing concepts and contacts, or just plain motivation to reach their goals. I have friends who nurse their babies for a year without complaining once. Friends who are married to military persons who willingly and courageously move their families when needed to places where they do not know one single soul. I have friends who have gone through divorce, picked up the pieces and have found peace with their new lives. Friends who travel the world, who have moved half way across the world by themselves, and those who travel to developing countries to dedicate their time to those in need. Friends who have generously given their bodies as hosts to other friends to provide them with the most amazing miracle of all…children. And friends who so bravely have gone through rounds and rounds of in vitro fertilization so they themselves could experience a family of their own. Friends who have had cancer and survived. Friends who have lost parents, brothers, sisters. Friends who run marathons, compete in tri-athlons, and are in incredible shape, even with 2-3 kids. Friends who start new businesses and friends who have graciously chosen to leave their careers so they could raise their kids. Friends who had twins before I did (thank god!) who lived to tell, so I could learn from them. I find these women to be amazing, not to mention the other women in my life like my mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, sister, sister-in-laws and aunts. I truly can find something amazing about every woman in my life. They inspire me to be better and to push myself, knowing they can do it tells me I can do it, too. I admire them for experiencing those things in life that I never have or may never will.
It took me sitting down to write the title of this post, “Perfect Is As Perfect Does” to understand what Forrest Gump was trying to say (though he was referring to the word “pretty”). What it comes down to is that perfect is in the eye of the beholder. The true sense of loving yourself is when you can finally look in the mirror and accept every bit of you, the physical, the mental, the emotional, and know that you are perfect exactly the way you are. It is a work in progress because in order to do this, we must defeat our tiny voices telling us that we are not perfect. My son won an award last night at his school for drawing his idea of the perfect family. The theme was “Together We Can…” and he choose to fill in the blank with “make the perfect family.” All night long, I was thinking to myself, why would he want or think that we are a perfect family? And why would he win an award for that? It’s so subjective. I was almost embarrassed at the thought that we were the perfect family. The more I thought about it today, the more I come to the realization, that as perfect is for me, perfect is for him…all different. I really don’t know because I haven’t had the opportunity to have the conversation with him, but I would imagine in his mind we are the perfect family. For him, he has a mom, a dad, a sister and two little brothers, a dog, 2 fish and 2 turtles, who all love each other very much. This concept could be totally different for a child whose mother may be a single, working mom, and his dad is remarried with kids…that could be perfect for his life. So I have to remind myself that perfect is as perfect does.