I am, without a doubt, a perfectionist.
I do not like to do things wrong. I do not like to be wrong (just ask my hub).
I attribute my perfectionism to a number of things: Perhaps it's in my blood (my sisters and I tend to house quite a bit of anxiety and perfectionism at times. One point for nature). Perhaps it's because I am the second born child but first born daughter (if you ascribe to the personality traits that typically accompany birth order and gender; One point for nurture).
I think it was one solo event that really steered me in this direction: The unexpected loss of a parent at a young age. Because you know what? I quickly learned that, while I cannot control the thoughts, feelings, or behaviors of those around me, I can control me and my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Which can make the world feel like a less scary place sometimes.
Sometimes, I think perfectionism can be a good trait: I am an organized person and, thus, usually on top of things and able to plan ahead. My house is clean. I made a 4.0 when obtaining my doctorate. I landed great internship and post-doctoral fellowship opportunities.
Sometimes, I think perfectionism is troubling: I worry about things being, well, perfect.
Do you know who's not perfect? Me.
Because I am human. I am supposed to make mistakes.
And do you know who else is not perfect? My children.
Because they are children. They are supposed to make mistakes. It's how they learn. It's how they grow. It's how they discover the "rules" of the world.
Sometimes, I forget that my children are allowed, are supposed, to make mistakes.
And I get frustrated. And they know when I get frustrated. Because I may raise my voice or speak to them too harshly.
I don't always like myself, more specifically, the way I choose to initially respond, in those moments. Because I forget, momentarily, that they are children. And they are allowed, they are supposed, to make mistakes.
Shortly after those moments, I am quick, and make it a point, to tell them one thing. A thing that I am proud to tell them because I think it is an important life lesson. I get down on their level, look them in the eye, apologize for snapping so quickly or speaking too harshly, tell them I love them, and then, always say,
"Sometimes Momma makes mistakes."
Because it's true.
Mommas make mistakes. Sure. We do our best. We try to stay calm and patient and understanding. Even when our child just spilled his third plate of food in so many nights after horse-playing at the dinner table. Even when our child just took 10 minutes, again, to simply put on pajamas.
We Mommas, we give mommahood everything we've got.
Sometimes Mommas make mistakes.
And that's okay. Because, despite our best efforts, we are not perfect. And we, too, are learning. We, as mommas, are supposed to make mistakes as we learn to be mommas.
For me, I want my children to know that no one else is perfect either. Mommas make mistakes just like everybody else.
And at the end of the day, that's the best I can do: When I make mistakes, learn from them and try better not to repeat them. And show my children that it's okay to make mistakes, as long as we acknowledge them and attempt to do better next time.
Make mistakes? Sure. But learn from them? Absolutely. Hopefully, my children will learn that perfection is not expected.
Because perfect's not so perfect after all.