In Pursuit of Perfection

by Mama Bice on March 6, 2014

Let me start this post by saying, “I’m a perfectionist.”

Yep. I’m a perfectionist, always have been. And I am about to admit to you that I AM NOT PERFECT.

I’m learning to live with it.

samantha

Society in general is pretty obsessed with perfection. We want perfect bodies, perfect jobs, perfect houses, perfect lives. Messy relationships, screaming kids, stretch marks, boring jobs…not exactly the “American Dream.”

But the idea of perfection has been taken to a whole new level with women. As women, as mothers, as wives – we are held to ideals. We are supposed to be beautiful, skinny, smart, sexy. We are supposed to be Wonderwoman of the PTA, June Cleaver of the home, and alluring in the bedroom. Not only does society push these ideals on us, but we push them on ourselves and each other (aka, “Mommy Wars”).

This pursuit of personal perfection is what I really want to touch on. This is something I have been working on within myself. As Birth Without Fear has turned a spotlight onto self-love, I have noticed my biggest issues. (I know, not the core of self-love, but hear me out). I have found that the biggest way I am cheating myself is in this idea that I should be perfect. Not only should I be perfect, but I need to prove it to the world.

I have a Pinterest account with almost 1,400 pins.

pinterest main

I mean, REALLY? When am I ever going to get around to doing 1,400 things? Most of which are focused on cute/non-essential things. Sure, about 150 pins are birth related. About another 150 are homeschool related. But other than that…basically it is one big to-do list for me. That is around 1,000 things that I felt the need to remind myself to do. And when I accomplish one of them? This is what I do:

fridge

Yes, that is my fridge. I put baskets in it, because Pinterest told me to. Now granted, it really did help keep the fridge in order. But honestly, did I have to prove myself to Facebook? Did I have to let everyone know that my fridge was clean? Several days after posting this, a thought hit me. “What if I made someone else feel like they need to clean their fridge?”

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we all stop posting photos of those moments when the laundry room is finally clean, or the walls get a new coat of paint. But I do think that we create a paradox here. If we only post photos and statuses of when we have out “$hit together”, we are telling ourselves we are only allowed to share our perfect selves. And that is not self-love.

I take pictures of my kids all the time, most moms do. But only a fraction are posted to Facebook or shared with family. Sometimes it is due to the blurry capture of a running child, or the fact that I have already posted a million things that day. But usually the biggest reason I decide not to post something? You can see a mess in the background. You can see crumbs on the carpet or the dingy soapscum in the bathtub. You can see the dishes I have not washed or the toys that seemingly procreate each night while we sleep. I don’t post the photos because I don’t want you to know that we have a mess in the house…a house with a three year old and six month old and two not-so-neat adults.

Who am I helping when I don’t share those photos? Surely not my children who are adorable and love taking pictures. Surely not my family who would love to see photos of every little thing we do. And I am not helping myself or you either. For myself, I am just reminding myself, “Damn, I haven’t vacuumed yet. This place is so gross.” And for all of you out in Facebook land, I am only showing the most perfect side of my life. As far as you know, my house is always spotless and my kids are always dressed nicely. And then you turn around and judge yourself by those standards, whether you realize it or not.

To give an example, lets look at a common mommy subject – potty training. I have majorly struggled with this within myself (with admitting my three year old is not potty trained, not that I can’t use the potty ;-) ). What is the one thing we usually hear most? “Oh, my child was potty trained at 10 months!”, “Oh, we were diaper free all the time, even for bed, by the time he turned two!” And you know what, if that was your kid that is GREAT! I would be excited too! I mean, who really loves diapers? But you really don’t see a mom say “My three year old refuses to poop in the potty and hates underwear.” Why? Because society in general has told us that there is something wrong if a child doesn’t “get” the potty at an early age. Not only are our mothering skills brought into question, but we also think someone might judge our child too. And so, we don’t share and we don’t ask for help or maybe we even tell a little white lie about how well the potty learning is going. And then we unknowingly add to this idea that all kids are potty trained by “x” age.

I find myself not sharing certain photos of me baby-wearing simply because the straps pushed my love handles into view. I go as far as deleting a photo totally if my REAL smile is caught on camera because I am really insecure about my teeth. I am striving to help other women feel inspired and beautiful and I am striving to teach my children to love themselves just as they are. Meanwhile, I am deleting photos of myself or hiding my love handles. I am not going to become skinny or have better teeth by doing this…but I am going to slowly wear down my self esteem. I am not living honestly.

We do this to so many things in our lives. I catch myself judging myself in all these little ways so often. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m doing it. But I am striving to not only recognize these moments but to also push my boundaries a bit. Perhaps, just maybe, if I post that photo of my adorable toddler dancing complete with crumb covered carpet some other mom won’t feel so alone in her struggle to keep the crumbs away. Chances are, most people won’t even notice the carpet because my son is stealing the show with his amazing smile. I am going to focus on the fact that *I* made that kid smile…hell, I MADE that smile, literally. I created that ball of joy. Screw the carpet.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Shary March 6, 2014 at 12:09 pm

“Screw the carpet!” That’s my new mantra for life. :)

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Tara March 6, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Couldn’t agree more. I finally signed out of my social networking accounts for good a few years back and I have to say, it really loosed the power of unfair comparison. I tried so hard to keep perspective there, but was failing miserably. It is freeing to not know what amazing thing every other woman out there is doing once a week and assuming she’s doing that all day long. Now I focus on spending time with the people I can see face to face. Guess what. I’m happy to report all of my in-real-life-friends have crumbs on their carpets and dishes in their sink too. :-)

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Leilani March 6, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Oh I heard you spoke on this at the most recent meet-up and I was sad I wasn’t there to hear it. I am so glad you put it on the blog! I especially love this: “I am deleting photos of myself or hiding my love handles. I am not going to become skinny or have better teeth by doing this…but I am going to slowly wear down my self esteem.” What a great point!

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Melanie March 7, 2014 at 1:50 am

Love it!! Came across this on Facebook! Great article

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katie March 9, 2014 at 12:41 am

This hits home for me because pregnancy was a very rough time for emotionally . I was constantly comparing myself to what I imagined was the perfectly thin, energetic, perfect pregnant women instead of letting nature take its course and enjoying my miracle!

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Svea Boyda-Vikander March 9, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Beautifully said. <3

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Becky Castle Miller March 9, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I have tried to embrace (with humor!) the imperfections of my life with four small kids by focusing my Instagram on our hilariously messy life. It has actually helped me deal better with disasters… “Oh, you broke eggs all over the floor again? At least I have a new post for Instagram!” Link if you’re interested: http://instagram.com/beckycastlemiller

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Jennifer Sanchez March 13, 2014 at 1:00 am

Are you my twin? This sounds exactly like me. I crop out my pictures if there is anything “unseemly” or dirty. I too have a ridiculous amount Pinterest posts although I tell myself that they are for our future home. It ain’t easy being realistic and honest with oneself

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Josie June 3, 2014 at 10:25 am

Thank you for sharing and your comments. I am 15 weeks along with my first baby and recently had a meltdown because I according to FB all my friends didn’t start showing until 20 weeks and I am just starting so of course making me think I’m going to gain too much weight and not be a cute pregnant woman, instead of being so thankful over and over again that after a year of trying I’m so blessed to even becoming a mom…so thanks!

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Sarah Redden June 3, 2014 at 11:12 am

thank you for your post. It really resonated with me. I was doing a lot of the same things as you without even realizing. And here I thought I was all about self acceptance! I vow to post more pictures of my crummy carpet, unwashed dishes and love handles from here on out!

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