I used to think perfectionists were all one type of person. If you asked me if I were one, I’d say adamantly, “No!”
Because perfectionists, everyone knows, are anorexic gymnasts with spotlessly clean bedrooms, and who fold their t-shirts army-style and sort them up by color. They have manicured nails and flawless skin. They scored 1590 on their SATs (and cried for days).
So, me? No way.
Then I became a mom, and like so many other areas, the truth of my own nature was painfully illuminated.
Here is how you know if you are a Mommy Perfectionist.
If you are only happy when ___________, then you are a Mommy Perfectionist.
As far as the “blank,” there are not as many possibilities as you might think. From my observations, most Mommy Perfectionists are one of the following types.
- The “…when my house is clean” mommy perfectionist. These mothers feel their blood pressure boiling when they see blanket forts, play-Doh, food in the car, and DON’T YOU DARE COME IN THIS HOUSE WITH THOSE MUDDY SHOES ON. Not many moms like their houses messy, but if the messes intrinsic to Child Raising throw you into a non-functioning, screaming, tyrant, you might be a Martha Steward mommy perfectionist.
- The “…when my kids are healthy” mommy perfectionist. I know this mom, because she is me. And I am peaceful when the kids are healthy. The tiniest little threat to these values, and I am undone. The idea of something happening to my children is not just sad or awful, it is literally The Worst Thing In The World. If I think one of my kids is actually sick, I can hardly function.
- The “…when I am healthy” mommy perfectionist. Same idea as above, but the concern is focused on yourself. Though my actual “health issues” have been limited, I so identify with the hypochondria, and the fear of “what if” that paralyzes my day-to-day.
- The “please no one be mad at me” mommy perfectionist. Whether it’s your kids, your mom, your neighbor, or you husband, a little conflict STOPS the world. No one moves until it’s fixed.
- The “…when my kids are perfect” mommy perfectionist. This type of perfectionism hones in on your children’s academic, behavioral, or athletic performance. Your children MUST succeed. They must.
- The “…when I’m skinny and trendy” mom perfectionist. This poor mom, bless her soul, just can’t quite wrap her head around the concept of aging. She will fight a losing battle to wrinkles, style trends, tummy pooches, and saggy eyes. BUT SHE MUST WIN. Or she will be devastated.
At the risk of sounding like a Christian counselor, I have to say it: core of each of these is a good (even holy) desire.
- We want to be beautiful.
- We want to be safe.
- We want our children to be successful, happy and with us their entire (long) lives.
- We want order, and peace, and health.
The problem, of course, is when the desire becomes a demand. And when it rules your life.
Of all the “Mommy Lies” I have identified, I honestly think this one is the most devastating and damaging to the Mom who believes it, because of how much it takes, ruins, and destroys.
I have written extensively about this “lie” (even before I knew I was writing a series) in my very popular post, “The Joy Revolution.” This was a life-changing lesson for me, to learn and embrace that I could have joy no matter what my life looked like.
I’ve attempted about 37 times to summarize this post here, but I just cannot.
It is the deepest, darkest kind of lie that things must be “perfect” for us to enjoy them. I still struggle in this area, but I am so glad I discovered that truth.
So let’s here it : which type of “Mommy Perfectionist” are you?
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