I read a recent article that claimed more than 44% of moms report abusing prescription drugs, and 88% have abused alcohol. The study as a reaction to the stress of seeking parenting perfection. There are even more statistics, and if they’re true, they make up one of the saddest stories I can imagine. Parenting isn’t about perfection, but about love. And love is messy.
Unfortunately, perfectionism is everywhere. Maybe it’s ok for brain surgeons and Superbowls, but not for everyday life. We seek perfection in the way we keep our homes, our relationships, our appearances — and yes, even our families. Instead of enjoying those experiences, we fixate on making them better, without knowing what “better” even is. The end result of all this perfectness is not a “better” life, but a life that drives us to escape. Perfectionism only leads to making things less perfect.
We all know this is a hard habit to break once it starts. When you make your life look perfect, the pressure to maintain the illusion grows. No one sees what’s really happening, and no one knows about the exhausting cycle taking over your life.
Perfectionism brings about even more guilt, because pretending like everything is just “fine and dandy” never really feels right. It is a lie, and you can’t do that for long before you start feeling like a phony. All these negative effects build on each other, and the result is more stress, more frustration, and more pressure to keep pushing for more perfection.
Breaking the cycle takes a few brave acts. It starts with admitting we’re not perfect, and taking the huge step of letting others see our flawed selves. It can start with small things, like inviting people over to an imperfect house, or showing an imperfect smile during a picture, or letting imperfect kids run a little wild sometimes. And no, it’s not about setting low standards, but about living real, honest lives.
Perhaps, an easy way to fight against our own perfectionism is to allow others to be imperfect. That means having patience, showing grace, and not judging others for their glaring flaws and weaknesses. It means cutting people some slack and realizing that they are probably doing the best that they can with what they got.
It’s important to remember that you aren’t a machine, or a project, or a problem. You don’t need fixing, and you don’t need to be perfect in order to grow. Our imperfections are what make us human, and they help us to relate to each other. So let’s show them off.