Being a mom is rough on the perfectionist. Or maybe it’s just THIS perfectionist. It started the very first week. Breastfeeding just didn’t come naturally to me. My milk didn’t come in, the latch was wrong, I was miserable, my baby was miserable and I felt like a failure as a mom. I mean, breast is best right? It felt like there was enormous pressure to make it work. To call the lactation specialist. To get coaching on it. To remain patient. And pump until the milk comes in. But after 2 days, my baby was hungry and nothing would console her. I was miserable, uncomfortable and an emotional wreck.
I held that tiny wailing baby in my arms and fumbled around trying to get her to latch on. She was hungry, angry, and frustrated. Then, we were both crying. Finally, my mom handed me a bottle of formula and told me it was okay. My baby was relieved. At first, I was relieved. I could give up the breast feeding battle.
Then, I felt guilty for being relieved. I felt like a failure. I felt like I should have tried harder. I should have done more research. I should have forced myself to relax. I finally came to terms with the fact that my baby would be a formula fed baby and that would have to be okay. It just doesn’t work out for some women and I was going to be a wreck if I carried all those negative emotions into motherhood. I realized something. The President doesn’t have to be breast-fed in order to take office. And my child wouldn’t be asked at their job interview if they were formula fed. It really will be okay.
You know what? Come to think of it…perfectionism was a problem before the baby was born! I was stressed out over preparing the nursery and having everything I needed to be ready for the day the baby comes. Bottom line though, if you need something, there’s this thing called Amazon. They have 2-day shipping. There’s also a drug store or grocery store on just about every corner. I even wrote a book about the things not to worry about and the things to truly consider when preparing for the baby. You can check that out here if you’d like (it also has some tips for that first year and includes more on breastfeeding).
Just the other day, I was making brownies for my daughter’s birthday celebration at school. She’s in kindergarten now and we were celebrating her 6th birthday. Time flies when you’re a mom. After the brownies cooled, I pushed the knife down and pulled it toward me, tearing bits of brownie up as I went. “Whoa! I’m really destroying these things. How do you cut brownies without tearing them up?” I was frustrated. But packaged them up, attempting to piece them back together as I went. It turns out that 5- and 6-year-olds could care less what their brownie looks like as long as it tastes good. Nobody cared or noticed my messy brownies.
Being a Mom (and a Perfectionist)
Being a mom is like bowling for me. I’m terrible at it. But, while I can put the ball down and walk out of the ally, I can’t avoid being a mom. I have these little, walking and talking reminders of it. So while I don’t have to stare at a bowling ball everyday and be reminded of how challenging and frustrating it is for me, I do face motherhood, everyday.
Being a mom presents hundreds of opportunities to fail every day and on top of that, there’s hundreds of opportunities to compare yourself to others. I sound like a real downer, don’t I? But it’s true! Not only am I responsible for getting myself together, I’m responsible for getting two little ones together. There’s lots of steps along the way; getting baths, clothes on, fed, hair and teeth brushed, move through the day with minimal fights and frustrations, feed them again, teach them something, spend quality time together, run errands, fix boo-boos, feed them again, give them medication, brush their teeth, fetch their favorite stuffed animal, say prayers. That’s a lot to keep up with and to manage their fights and frustrations through-out the day WITHOUT losing my temper…whew!
Then, with all the theories on parenting it’s impossible not to do something that someone would consider the wrong way to do it. Discipline, routines, education, basic skills (potty training), and just getting through the day with your sanity are all hurdles to consider. There’s tons of books and articles all over the internet on parenting practices. I’m facing all these decisions about how to raise these kids so they have the tools they need to be successful and safe and happy. Guess what? In the end, I’m not responsible for their happiness. I just have to love them and teach them basic skills.
The trick is to do the best you can, love them, attempt to provide balance and forgive yourself because it’s NOT going to be perfect. It’s funny that in the process of growing my kids, they are growing me. I’m learning to let go of the little things (like messy brownies). Some battles are not worth fighting and it’s okay to let them go. Being a mom doesn’t have to be hard if I change the way I look at it, choose my battles wisely, and realize that those little ones are making me a better person and creating a richer life for me.
And while I can walk away from a bowling ball without a second glance, bowling balls don’t look you in the eyes and say, “I lub you mama.” Those little moments that make you melt, make it all worth it. So if you’re a perfectionist turned mama, get a reign on that perfectionism. Squash it and…