Perfectionism vs. Parenthood
Is there anyone else out there who is in a place in life where you feel like you “should” have your act together, but all you feel is unprepared?
Hi, I’m Rhianon and that’s where I am.
And I’m not even saying it’s bad, it’s just where I am.
I turned 32 years old last week. Thirty two. I was raised on a couple of different continents and lived in many different places. I’ve attended a few universities, I’ve been married for almost ten years, and I have four children (still not quite sure how I became responsible for four humans, but that’s a blog for another time). I thought that by this point in my life I’d feel like I had it together.
Here's the thing: I’m a perfectionist. But I’m not a perfectionist in the typical sense of the word. I would never have labelled myself as one until recently, but it’s true. When I think of perfectionists, I think of overachievers, type-A, organized, scheduled, put together.
I am not those things.
My kind of perfectionism? If I don’t know for a FACT that I can be the best at something, why bother? Why be mediocre? Why even try? This was true of me as a child, and is true of me now. It’s why I stopped doing ballet and sports, it’s why I did okay but never excelled in school and it’s why this blog was just an idea for five years. If I could avoid failure, especially public failure, I was doing just fine. So, why would I put myself out there and risk coming up short? Especially when I’m surrounded by so much talent. What I didn’t embrace was the hard work and the determination that it takes to be the best. There is talent out there that is real and raw, and that’s what I wanted to be. I wanted to be the best and I wanted to be the best NOW. But what I didn’t realize was that most people who succeed at what they do work really hard. Really DAMN hard. Not everyone is born with an amazing gift, but everyone is born with a gift within them that has to be cultivated, fine tuned and nurtured.
So what about when the two things that appear to define you are in complete competition with one another? Hypothetically speaking, what if you were a parent and a perfectionist? How would that look? Asking for a friend.
Honestly, this is something that has been really hard, ESPECIALLY since parenthood creeps into every other area in our life. Parenthood isn’t something that you can gradually ease yourself into. You get thrown in head first and hope to God that you survive without wrecking yourself or your kids. You can prepare, prepare, prepare but nothing you do will ever actually quite ready you for the parental rollercoaster that you’ll ride.
There will be days when you quietly fail in the comfort of your own home with no witnesses, and then there will be days when your toddler will throw a gallon of milk out of the shopping cart when you’re in the checkout aisle. There will be days when you feel like a failure because the birthday party was more pinterest fail than pinterest win. There will be days when games are played, healthy lunches are eaten, naps are long and the house is clean but you still feel unsettled and somehow unaccomplished. But I’m convinced that all of it is being used for good and that it’s part of the process in creating a better you. We’re not wind-up toys that God set off at the beginning of time and just left to wander aimlessly. No, He created us and is constantly using the things that happen in our lives to shape us and transform us into truer versions of who we have always been.
Yes, perfectionism and parenthood seem to be complete opposites, but I'm learning as the days and weeks go by that they can actually coexist if you embrace the tension between the two. You can allow your perfectionism to be tempered by parenthood, and you can allow your parenthood to rise to the occasion thanks to your perfectionism. I'm learning to take a deep breath and reevaluate the situation when things don't go according to plan and I'm also trying to do things that are outside of my comfort zone knowing that the joy of succeeding is so much greater than my fear of failure.
"There is freedom waiting for you
on the breezes of the sky,
And you ask, "what if I fall?"
Oh, but my darling,
What if you fly?"