Friday, December 20, 2013

The Perfection Expectation

I recently read an article (blog?) called "Killing Off Supermom", which struck a chord for me. Over the years, I have long felt guilt, remorse, and shame due to the state of my imperfect, cluttered, messy house; my lack of homemade Christmas (and neighbor) gifts; my inability to stay on top of everything my children are doing; and the sad, sorry state of my daily hairstyle.

Today, an inspection of the Standard of Perfection I have in my head, which I regret not living up to. When I was a tween/teenager, I loved watching Nick at Night, which, in those days, ran shows like "Leave it to Beaver" and "The Donna Reed Show" and "My Three Sons" and such. I loved those shows. And they were drastically different from my own childhood. My life was a crazy mixture of fun, laughter, anger and turmoil-- an abusive, nutso mother, the divorce of my parents, six siblings (and later 5 step-siblings) and the chaos of normal daily life was not what I wanted my adult life to reflect. 

My mind began to create an image of what I pictured the "perfect" life to look like. Married, 3 or 4 kids, I would be a homemaker my whole life (which I still wish for!). My house would be clean and sparkly, I would have a cheerfully made hot dinner on the table every night, and when my husband came home from work, I would greet him at the door with a kiss and we would spend peaceful evenings relaxing while the kids played quietly or watched TV. (Ha!)

Then came Martha Stewart, with her perfect hair, nails, clothes, house, pets, and yard. She was cooking, organizing, gardening, hosting glorious parties and galas and holidays, decorating, baking, and all with a cheery smile and incredibly creative ideas. It was all "good things" for Martha. And she raised the bar for what women could and should be accomplishing.

And I thought, "oh, if only my life could look like that." Not a speck of food on the floor, counter or clothes. Not a single bit of dust anywhere. Perfection, right?

Well... then actual real life happened. Marriage? Challenging and imperfect. Parenthood? Exhausting, surprising, and unbelievably messy. (Not to worry, life has been full of joy and peace and wonder and excitement and happiness-- just not as I expected!)

My house is basically the opposite of Martha Stewart's. My yard is even worse. Hot dinners served on time are still a goal, but I don't accomplish this every night. Illness, chronic diseases, financial struggle, 6 people with full schedules, full to-do lists, empty cupboards, and other random unexpected problems make perfection nearly unattainable.

Comparable to the modern mental disease of thinking women should look like photoshopped celebrities, I got it into my head that my life should look like a TV show or magazine article. Life is not cleaned up, scripted, pre-rehearsed and perfect, though. 

And it shouldn't be! 

Life is an adventure, wild, unpredictable, sometimes uncontrollable. It's challenging, to be sure, but we're up to the challenge. Of normal life. I'm not up to the challenge of homemade crafts, perfectly manicured nails, and an OCD-level clean house. I just can't do it. It's not in my genetic makeup. Too many things get in the way (working full time, fatigue, wanting to nurture my relationships with my children, good books...) of having a severe daily cleaning regimen. And I have two left hands and a black thumb when it comes to creating crafty things. 

So I'm letting go of the guilt. If I have friends, neighbors or family members who will judge me as unfit or not as good as them because my carpets are stained, my blinds are dusty, my piano, chairs, desk, and table are cluttered with daily stuff, well... I guess I'll be grateful they all keep it to themselves. 

Supermom is dead, and I don't want to be Martha Stewart anymore. My best is good enough.

So is yours. 

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