Letting Go of Perfection

I've been drawing closer and closer to the online Catholic mom community via blogging, and one thing underpins all my experiences and acquaintanceships--that is that most devout, loving, Catholic mamas are not self-described as the "domestic type."  Wonderful, intelligent, and resourceful moms like Leila, Angie, Jen, Simcha, and Melinda.

Before I had children, I had delusions of grandeur; of cultivating a quaint, thrifty home, with plenty of wildflowers, the aroma of bread baking, cucumbers and tomatoes fresh from the garden, scented candles, crafts for the children, and family prayer time.  Okay, to be fair, I knew that I wouldn't be able to perform all these things to perfection the way I wanted, but I thought that the disposition, the right ordering toward, or will to do so, would make me a noble and admirable mother.

While I still yearn for those things, I've come to realize that most, if not all of them, are not natural to me, and that that is okay.  Rather than feel guilty or defeated about my indisposition to ideal motherhood, I'm learning that being a good mom is as much about being genuine as it is about being my best.

I don't have to make excuses for not being the mom who jogs every morning with her toddler tucked in his stroller and regularly organizes playdates.  I'm not her.  I'm the absent-minded mom who never says no to reading one more story at bedtime, who counts her day a mild success if she manages to get some good food in all parties, and who teaches her son to appreciate mountains, different cultures, and the Catholic faith.

I have many valuable gifts to give my son.  The best part is, they're all from me.  His mama.

Being a mother has taught me to let go of perfection.  If I am always worrying about what I'm not rather than taking joy in my vocation, I'm doing both mother and child a disfavor.  God granted me motherhood, not a stereotype or an ideal: it is a real state of being in which I am called daily to sacrifice self-centeredness for the sake of another, to cultivate a soul for eternity.  Make this my center and all else should follow.

And so, in this spirit of cautious contentment, I gave the two-year-old his first drink of Coke last week.

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Don't worry, this won't be a regular thing!
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4 comments:

  1. You go, girl.

    I've been fighting perfectionism on a few different fronts lately, and it's deadly stuff. I can't get enough of people talking about how it's okay not to drive yourself into the ground with it. :)

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    1. I think part of what is so deadly about it is that it puts all of the focus on US. When if we think of what and who we love, and do things for them, we get the results we wanted all along, and are happier for it!

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  2. I don't fight perfectionism so much as a mild OCD that loves too much the straight rug and dusted shelf..but I still know what you mean -everything in the ideal is so very attractive to me, and I think one of my biggest small frustrations in life is the unphotogenic journal..and ALL my journals are a mess, so it's always such a frustration!

    You're so right here though. Especially with women who seem to rise joyfully to make wholesome early breakfasts for their husbands, without grumbling and spilling half of it..

    You rock. And Yarrow loved her Valentine :), almost as much as I loved your beautiful poem..Thank you again and again!

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    1. You're so welcome!

      And I think I could actually use a little bit of that OCD. :p

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