Perfectionism and I go way, WAY back. Certainly way earlier than when I became a mother almost two years ago. I remember moving back home one summer in between semesters of college and getting bent out of shape because my boyfriend at the time had turned a box the “wrong way.” I mean, it was bad.
I’ve made a lot of progress on breaking up with perfectionism over the past couple of years. I’ve stopped beating myself up for making mistakes. I’ve stopped feeling guilty for changing or skipping parts of my workouts. I’ve even relinquished control over how the dishwasher “should” be loaded….which my husband is thankful for.
And if I’ve learned anything in my 22 months of being a mother it’s this: Let go of perfectionism, or you’re going to be one miserable woman.
I’m not just talking about the way that I do things myself, I’m also talking about letting go of being perfect for everyone else, which I’m also an expert at. In my family system I was always “the good one,” and I did it well. I didn’t speak up when I had problems. I hid my mistakes (or at least I think I did. I should ask my mother). I flew under the radar. I tried not to rock the boat in any way that would bring attention to myself. I was always “fine” and I was constantly seeking the approval of others.
And when it comes to motherhood, I can feel my perfectionist tendencies creeping in, too. The first few months of Jack’s life were really tough on me. I had a hard time adjusting to this new life and as much as I love my son, I was seriously depressed. But, it took me weeks to tell anyone or talk about it because I thought that if I admitted it, that that would mean that I wasn’t a good mother or that people would think that I didn’t enjoy being a mother.
Isn’t that seriously ridiculous? Everybody struggles, but for some reason, I was unwilling to admit it. It took bending until I broke and becoming vulnerable enough to allow others in to get the love and support that I needed so desperately.
And while I’ve made some serious progress on letting others in, I still have some work to do when it comes to allowing others’ perception of me to dictate my actions. Awhile back, I went to a baby shower and took Jack with me. We had to park on the street a couple of houses down from where the party was. I thought about just grabbing the blanket I brought, wrapping it around him and taking him inside….but it had been in the 20s, and honestly, I was afraid of being judged for walking in without having a coat on my kid.
Seriously….it would have taken me like 30 seconds to get him inside where it was warm, but, instead we both stood there freezing our butts off for 5 minutes trying to get his coat on.
Why do we do this? Why we do care so much what other people think? I know that if I would have just scooped him up and went inside that he would have been fine, but I was so worried that someone would say, “Where’s his coat?! You didn’t put a coat on him?!” that I went against my better judgement. And you know what? Someone probably would have said something. But, who cares?? As long as I know that he’s safe and taken care of, who cares what anyone else thinks?
Motherhood is already riddled with self imposed insecurities and guilt. Why should I allow other people’s perception or even what I think other people’s perceptions are affect how I live my life? There is no such thing as a perfect mother, and I’m done trying to be. And I’ll do my part by giving other mamas grace and love instead of judgement. And if I don’t think that my son needs a jacket for the 30 second walk from the car to a house, I won’t put one on him, and I won’t feel one ounce of guilt about it.
P.S. A judgement-free and supportive environment where you can show up as you are is exactly what Cara and I foster in our tribe. To get weekly workout tips, recipe ideas, mindset advice and parenting stories make sure you get on our newsletter list. This is where we give out our best information. Not on the list yet? You can join the tribe here.