“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.” Harriet Braiker
This last weekend we celebrated Mother’s Day and my mom made a passing comment about how much she disliked Mother’s Day until just a few years ago. When she left the room my husband quickly asked me why.
I then went on to explain to him the various sentiments I have heard so many mothers express;
Mother’s Day has become a day in which I notice all the ways I am falling short.
A day for me to hear all of the amazing things other moms are doing and think “I should be doing that.”
A day where perfect families are seen everywhere I look.
In short, it is a day in which we strive for perfection.
To all of you out there I say; STOP IT! Perfectionism cannot exist in the world of motherhood.
As moms, we have this innate desire to do it right.
Some of it’s about the right stuff, like books, toys, clothes, or nursery decorations. Other times it’s about the right routine, with schedules, creative activities, monitored screen time, independent play, and outside exploration. Even more daunting is the right parenting, focused on decisions like nutrition, discipline, and sleep practices.
We do all this in hopes that we’re good enough for our kids. But when we say we want to be good enough, what we’re actually aiming for is perfection.
And when we inevitably fail at being 100% for our kids all the time, we’re really hard on ourselves. We feel guilty and shameful, overwhelmed and burned out, anxious and depressed, or all of the above.
We think perfectionism will make us the best moms for our kids. But perfectionism rarely serves us the way we hope it will.
Instead I strive for all of us, myself included, to practice self compassion. Self-compassion is simply the process of turning compassion inward. We are kind and understanding rather than harshly self-critical when we fail, make mistakes or feel inadequate. We give ourselves support and encouragement rather than being cold and judgmental when challenges and difficulty arise in our lives.
It is through compassion we find room for learning and growth, two key components needed to not only to thrive through motherhood but to live life to the fullest.