Inside: I thought that perfection as a parent was necessary. It wasn’t. I just needed to show up, imperfectly on purpose to love my children. I am not a failure and neither are you.
It was only when I started having panic attacks that I realized my efforts to order my life with exacting precision were an attempt to make me feel safe in a world that felt threatening.
No amount of organizing, planning, or sacrificing sleep for productivity could keep people I loved from dying or help me learn to love myself.
All the volunteering and detailed homeschool plans, the freshly baked muffins and constant cleaning could not shelter me from the reality that I was imperfect and so afraid. That I didn’t believe I had what it takes.
It took a trip to the emergency room and a thoughtful doctor for me to admit that I was not truly in control at all. That my efforts to hold on tight, to control or even manipulate, to suppress all my feelings, were stopping me from truly living.
Perfectionism was simply one of the ways, among many, that I self-medicated. It robbed me of joy. It held me back from even dreaming about the work I longed to do. It kept me hidden and ashamed. And yes, it did hurt the people I loved most in the world.
And once that damn of self-protection opened up, the pain hit fierce and fast.
But it was only then that I began to truly live.
Because here is the truth: I am imperfect and I am beautiful. Life is scary and sometimes painful but it is also dripping in breath-taking beauty and possibility. And we cannot have one without the other.
To the perfection seeking parent, feeling like a failure today, you are more amazing than you think
It is not perfection that makes you lovable. It is not your ability to perform or keep up that determines your worth. And all the times you have yelled or panicked or prioritized appearance over relationship – they do not diminish the truth that you are also a wonderful mom. Imperfect and beautiful.
If you could only see yourself through the eyes of these people who love and need you most, you would understand. They don’t judge you for your flaws or need you to be perfect. They are ready to forgive and offer you the same grace you pour out for them when they fall. They see what you don’t see.