I love my wife. I am immensely impressed with her. She has chosen to undertake what is, in my opinion, the most difficult job in the world: She stays at home with our young children. She is wonderful at her job and is accomplishing amazing things, but she doesn’t often see things that way. So I wrote the below words for her, from what I hope can be her perspective.
I am a stay-at-home mother of young children who is prone to perfectionism. I know. Could there be anything more ironic?
Every day I continue to try to do far too much, and all of it perfectly, even when reason and history tell me it’s not possible. This mode of behavior sounds dangerous, but it’s actually okay. Even if it is absolutely impossible to do, I can set out to accomplish everything, and strive to do it all perfectly. There is nothing wrong with lofty goals.
“Life” is going to happen, though. There’s just no way around it.
“Life” especially happens for perfectionist stay-at-home mothers of small children. Life brings, relentlessly, it seems, its daily (sometimes hourly) failures and shortcomings to people who dare to stay at home with children and try to do too much. When it does – when I fail spectacularly at my goal of doing everything perfectly – rather than allow those shortcomings to make me feel unsuccessful as a mother and as the woman in charge of my home, I am trying to maintain this perspective instead:
“I can be at peace even when it feels like the whole day was shot to hell and I accomplished nothing.”
I have come to recognize that I deserve this peace-amidst-the-turmoil because deep down I know that I am succeeding at the most important, the most lasting, aspects of my job.
Through my efforts…
- My children feel loved, confident, and safe.
- My children have opportunities to learn and grow and fail and succeed.
- My children know boundaries and understand when they deserve discipline.
- My children treat others with kindness and respect.
- My children know how much I love their Daddy.
- My children have growing testimonies of Jesus Christ and His Gospel.
- My children are fed, clean, warm, and well rested.
I am trying to recognize that when I am accomplishing those things, no matter what else I haven’t done and no matter what else I think I’ve failed at during the day, I am still succeeding overall at the work of raising and nurturing children. Most of the other things truly don’t matter anyway. That fact is probably the most important point of all, and I know I need to remember it, so I’m going to say it again: The rest doesn’t matter. Therefore, I am trying to “let it go” when the non-lasting things don’t work out. The truly important stuff (the successes I mentioned above) is happening naturally in my family because of my natural influence as a mother. The rest I can still strive for, but if I fall short I am still at peace because I am always proud of the successes that truly matter.
No matter how much didn’t get done, no matter the state of the house or the husband or the homework at the end of the day, I know deep down that I am succeeding in the work I have chosen to do, the work that I love.
I am going to let that knowledge, the knowledge that I am succeeding in the ways that truly matter, while sometimes falling short in other ways, bring me peace. I deserve it.