Yep, that’s me and I’m proud of it. I wasn’t always this way though. I have spent a lot of my life striving to achieve in school, in my career and in sports. While achieving goals isn’t a bad thing, it was the reason underneath it that wasn’t doing me any favours. I was trying to be perfect and ace my exams because I thought it would make me feel worthy, that I was good enough. But it was a false sense of self worth I was getting and didn’t fulfill me the way I wanted. Once I realized what I was doing, it gave me choice about whether achieving was what I really wanted or what I felt I “should” do.
Perfection is a major roadblock to moving forward. “I’ll do that once I lose 10 lbs.”. “I’ll apply for that job once I take another course”. If I waited to be perfect before I did anything, I’d be sitting on my butt forever. Motherhood doesn’t allow you the luxury of waiting until you are perfect. Thank goodness! You are thrown into motherhood once you give birth to that bundle of joy and that bundle can’t wait until you are a perfect mother before you step up to the plate. It’s on the job training. Learn as you go. It makes me sad to see moms that feel they have to do everything perfectly and beat themselves up when they don’t. If only they knew how amazing they are instead of focusing on what they aren’t perfect at.
What the heck is perfect anyway? Whose standards was I trying to live up to? Who decides what perfect is and who made that person the one who knows? It’s crazy when I really think about it, that I was striving for something I’m not even clear on. And yet I know I’m not alone in this scenario. A lot of moms I have talked to feel like they have to be superwoman and excel at everything or what are people going to think of them? We tend to have these unrealistic unattainable expectations for ourselves. We are our harshest critics. Seriously, other people don’t care if I am perfect at everything I do. Beating ourselves up triggers our brainstems to release a cascade of chemicals that cause us to feel fear and anxiety. Talk about self-infliction! Being more gentle and forgiving with ourselves brings more peace and calmness into our lives. And if the self-infliction isn’t bad enough, every time I beat myself up, my children learn to do the same. If I am overwhelmed and stressed most of the time, my girls will feel that energy and learn that that is what is normal. Nobody benefits from perfection. I don’t want them to grow up thinking that they have to be perfect. That is an insane amount of pressure and it just sets them up for failure because it isn’t attainable. That alone has been great incentive to drop the perfection and just be me, warts and all (I’m talking metaphorically!) They just want the real me anyway, not some perfected version of me. So yes, they have a wackadoo mom but nothing compares to the beaming smiles on their faces when I’m being goofy and silly dancing with them. They love it! They will also know that mom is not very good at housework and arts and crafts but that is OK! Our imperfections are part of what makes us unique along with our strengths. Now that I have started to embrace my imperfections, I realize how much energy I was investing in trying to be perfect. It is exhausting! Have I embraced and accepted all of my imperfections? No, but remember I’m not perfect:) My life now has much less stress and is a lot more fun. I also still have goals I would like to accomplish but not to make myself feel deserving or worthy. I want to accomplish them because they are in alignment with my values and desires and because I want to make a difference. It has a completely different energy to it and it feels good!
Bottom line – life is messy! Dive into the muck and get dirty! It’s way more fun than trying to clean it up all the time. Letting go of perfection is one of the greatest gifts I have given myself. Could you imagine if everything in life was perfect? Borrrring!
Multi-tasking is something I pride myself in being good at. There are days when I get so much accomplished and I feel really good about myself. Then there is my husband. It is a common male trait that they just aren’t great at multi-tasking. You know what I mean. They get so focused on what they are doing that you don’t exist. Trying to talk to him when he is engrossed in a project is pointless. He doesn’t hear a thing! There are times when I want to scream at him, “Can you not do two things at once?”
Despite me being frustrated, I have learned a lot from him. When he is focussed on a task, he is fully present with it. He is giving it 100% of his attention and is far more productive. With multi-tasking, I am getting a lot done but I am not fully present with any of the tasks. My attention is spread all over the place and I make mistakes or forget things. A classic example happened a couple of days ago. I was about to head out for my second ski of the winter and I was really pumped. It was a beautiful day and I was going to have some time to myself exercising in nature. I was rushing out the door to get as much ski time in as I could. At the same time, I was thinking about what I was going to do with the chicken I defrosted for dinner, the nursery school open house we were going to later that evening and a friend of mine that I had been meaning to call. I was half way to the ski trails, rocking out to the music in the car radio when the realization hit me, “Oh Crap! I forgot to put my skis and poles in the car!”. I laughed all the way home and was still laughing when I pulled up to the house. My hubby stuck his head out the door to see what was going on. He just shook his head and sighed as I told him what I had done. So in the end, I had even less time to ski but it was all my own fault. Now I could blame this on sleep deprivation as my youngest daughter is waking in the night a lot right now due to teething but deep down I know that my “monkey mind” is to blame.
My daughters are also a great barometer for me of not being fully present. If I am on the phone too long or trying to do a million things, they will both start acting out or my eldest daughter will nag me to death. One of my mentors said that kids nag because they feel like they aren’t being fully heard or understood. So instead of trying to communicate with her across the room while I am doing the dishes, I stop what I am doing, get down to her level, look her in the eyes and give her my full attention as she is talking to me. Once I have done that, amazingly the nagging stops. Imagine that! I realize that the time spent with my kids isn’t the important thing. It is the quality time spent with them when I am fully present, that is most important. Now I explain to my daughter when I have to get certain things done and then give her my full attention afterwards instead of trying to cram it all together.
Letting go of the need to get everything done on my to-do list has been huge for me. At the end of the day, my children’s health and happiness is more important to me than having a spic and span house with everything in its place. I still have my to-do list but I prioritize what really needs to get done and the other stuff can wait for another day. Do I still beat myself up over it? Yes, I do have my moments but they don’t happen as often. I try to be fully present when I am working and fully present when I am with my girls. It is a challenge for sure as I work from home and I still have my scattered times but it is worth it in the long run. My kids don’t care if everything is in its place. They just want me and my full attention. There are absolutely times for multi-tasking that are necessary like when we are trying to get out the door but being stuck in habitual multi-tasking has its down-sides. I realize that who I am being defines me as a person, not what I am doing. Simplifying and not over-committing myself is the key to me feeling relaxed and happy. Being “superwoman” is a hat I have gladly removed because at the end of the day, superwoman wasn’t really being that super at anything.