Thursday, July 30, 2015

Why I DO Shoot for Perfection as a Mom



have a sign on my wall that says "Good Moms have sticky floors, dirty ovens and happy kids."

But I don't believe it.

I can't stand a sticky floor. It's gross!

So I vacuum at least once a day, and have even got my 5- and 3-year-olds vacuuming.  My kids don't get to eat in the living room, or anywhere but the kitchen, with the exception of popcorn on movie nights, and they must pick up any dropped food at the table - yes, even the 1-year-old.

Actually, 1-year-old Zachary is so well-trained, that when water, milk or juice spills or drips a little, he says "Mess!" and often goes to get a dish rag.

This is the degree of my severe dislike for sticky floors.  The oven? Also pretty clean.

I can't help but notice the number of blog posts, signage and media centered around the principle that if you're a mom, you don't have to be perfect, just spend time with your kids and make them happy. And this is sometimes really good to hear. No, you don't have to be perfect. But a lot of these things basically tell us that it is ok to just throw our hands up and say, "Oh well. I'm a mom."

"Don't expect to have a clean house. Don't expect to make good from-scratch meals. Don't expect to ever be done doing laundry. Don't expect to also be a good wife to your husband. Don't expect to take showers. Don't expect to do your hair. You have KIDS! You're doing so much already! Kids are the epitome of work and time and effort, and you won't regret spending each little second cherishing their growth. You don't have to be a good friend, you're a mom. You don't have to be on time for commitments, you're a mom. You don't really have to be a responsible human being (except when it comes to raising perfect children) because... you're a mom."

Uh. No.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not a perfect mother or housekeeper or friend... but it was around my third birth about a year-and-a-half ago that I thought to myself, "Hey, if I'm not done having babies... then I better get myself together here."

I'm constantly witnessing moms who are, as I call it, "overwhelmed with life." Be it kids, or a demanding job, or medical problems, or any of the things that come with marriage and family, they're out there, and they can often be heard saying things like, "I don't do that, I'm a mom."  I am still one sometimes.  I don't have it all together.

What I do have though is a different perspective to offer, and it came to me once when I was pondering just exactly how I as a Catholic am called to live my life - particularly this passage from the gospel of Matthew:
"Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." ( Matthew 5: 43-48)
Jesus is asking really difficult things here. He's asking people to love people who hate them, to go against the ebb and flow of what the world around them is doing. He's saying we don't need to be like everyone else. Applying this in my life, it means not buying into the idea that motherhood makes me unable to shoot for perfection. It's like Jesus is saying, "Hey little mother over there, be better than you were yesterday. Be perfect."

So I've tasked myself with shooting for perfection; with having a standard and surpassing it whenever possible. And you know what? I've never had a perfect day. I've never been perfect. I likely never will be. I don't expect my friends to be perfect - but I love to hear when they're trying, and even when I see the improvements they make in their own lives.

And, you know what else? It feels better to have perfection as the goal than to have given up and resigned myself to imperfection, and being constantly overwhelmed with my children and the world around me. It feels better to be teaching my kids to aim high too, because why shouldn't they learn, even by osmosis at less than 1 year, that life is about doing your best to be your best?

It feels good to set standards - not impossible ones mind you - and then meet them. Sticky floors? Nope. Not here. But happy kids? Here too.

I think of each little goal as a step in the direction of true peace and balance in my life. Looking back, it seems we've climbed up the ladder from "overwhelmed with life," to... well, something better.

2 comments:

  1. Jessica! I spent part of tonight creeping your blog. I really enjoyed what I read! And this post is great to read now that I'm dealing with two kids! I think I like the idea of shooting for perfection. My floors aren't necessarily going to get cleaner yet, but I do want to be able to roll through better with everyone generally unscathed and my flat surfaces cleared of junk!

    It's cool to read about you and Joseph. I would love to get together with you guys next time you are in the area!

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