10 months ago I was well on my way to be perfect!! I was a full-blown Perfectionist. I took pride in how clean I could keep my house, my office, and my car. I was always punctual. I even took pride in how many germs I could keep away from myself by doing certain rituals upon leaving a restroom or eating at a restaurant. I wouldn’t want to get sick and ruin my perfectly planned schedule! Then along came my little boy!
I had a very “normal” pregnancy at first. Seriously, everything seemed to happen to me right on time according to the books and articles I was constantly reading. I wanted to get pregnancy right you know! I was gaining the perfect amount of weight, my hormones were perfectly raging, my appetite was perfectly wonderful- all the fun stuff that comes with being pregnant. Everything was perfect until my 8th month of pregnancy when I went into pre-term labor. Suddenly things were not perfect. My little one was trying to enter the world before I had planned! My world was suddenly rocked. For the first time, all the things I tried to do to be perfect didn’t matter. I was put on 2 weeks total bed rest. This was very hard for me because I am a major Type A, go-getter, always doing something (usually to make things more perfect for my life!) I was told to stop all that. Stop cleaning, stop working, stop worrying and planning…. Stop everything!
I did as the doctor’s ordered in order to keep my precious baby healthy. We went from week to week until it was ok to do whatever I wanted again. Aaahh, I had my control back. Things could be “perfect” again!
Our son was born on a beautiful fall day. It literally couldn’t have been more perfect. The trees had changed colors but the leaves hadn’t fallen yet, the temperature was nice, and the sun was shining. One of my favorite songs even came on the radio as we rode in the car. I’ll never forget my husband saying to me as we were driving to the hospital, “It’s a beautiful day to have a baby”. Yes, it was perfect!
We had our son at 10:20 and everything went perfect. Our family and friends were there to welcome our baby into the world. I had a wonderful stay at the hospital where they taught my husband and me everything we needed to know in order to perfectly take care of the baby. We pulled away from the hospital thinking we could do this easily and if not, we’ll just get on the Internet and figure it out!
OH MY GOODNESS! No one prepared us for this!!!! This little guy doesn’t sleep when I want him to. He doesn’t eat when I want him to. And he won’t poop for goodness sake! What is going on? Doesn’t he want to be perfect, too? !? I kept praying for God to make him do this and make him do that. It just wasn’t happening! And my husband wasn’t having it either! I constantly nagged him to help me keep our house clean so when people came to see the baby they could see I still had it all together.
Finally, after a whole 2 weeks of being a mommy, it hit me. I could either choose to continue trying to make my life perfect again or I could knock it off and begin enjoying this wonderful experience that God was giving me. I’ll never forget that day. It was Election Day 2004. My wonderful friend was coming to watch the baby so I could go vote. I was getting ready and fussing over my hair. It wasn’t perfect. My clothes were ugly (postpartum clothes are the worst!) I felt frumpy and ugly. But I remember thinking if I can just get presentable I can spend a few minutes with my baby before I leave. I chose for my hair and clothes to be mediocre that day. And that was the first of many decisions I would need to make for the next 18 years: Do I want to be perfect or do I want to be a good Mom? That day I chose to be a good Mom. I’ll never forget how wonderful it felt holding my little boy for a few minutes before my friend got there. I truly did not care that I wasn’t perfect that day.
Since then, my clothes aren’t always pressed, my hair is not perfect, my car gets cluttered, I am usually running a few minutes behind, and on good days my house looks like a bomb went off in it. But you know what, it’s worth it! The gifts and blessings I receive everyday for being a Mommy make it all ok. I wouldn’t trade it for anything-not even being perfect!!
It’s amazing how being a parent changes everything about you, especially you’re thinking. When I went to the polls that day, I saw a woman with a child and she was dressed perfectly! Her hair was done, her clothes were trendy, and she even had a tan in November. Usually when I see a woman like that I think “Now that’s the kind of Mom I want to be- cool and trendy!” But this time I saw her and thought, “I wonder if she made time to hold her baby this morning or if she chose to spend that time getting fixed up?” A couple minutes later I saw a woman with 2 children. She had on sweats, a wrinkled t-shirt, tennis shoes, and a baseball cap. She looked like she spent her extra time that morning holding her babies. I thought to myself, “Now there’s the kind of Mommy I want to be- not perfect but present!”
I had found the cure for perfectionism!