All my life, I've been a perfectionist. I'm not sure if it's genetic or environmental (my mom is the queen perfectionist), but it came through in so many ways. If I was going to do something, I worked out the steps in my head to get the best results in the least amount of time. My room was a mess, but I got straight A's. If I found out I wasn't naturally gifted in a certain area, I just avoided it. Therefore, I didn't play sports at all and was content to be considered a 'nerd' in school. I worked a part time job or three all through high school and always made sure my boss considered me the best worker he or she had. When I made a pizza, all toppings were precisely distributed so that each bite was consistent. It was a bit obsessive.
It struck me today that I've changed. Years ago, as a young mom with 4 little girls under the age of 4, I struggled to keep that perfectionistic side of me. I worked so hard to keep my house clean, which we all know is futile--especially with babies and toddlers. I was constantly cleaning kids, doing dishes, folding laundry and trying to do each job just right. Over the years, my kids worked on me. Guilt over yelling at little ones to leave me alone while I was trying to perfectly decorate their birthday cake. Saying 'no' to playing a game with the sweet girl I was cooking dinner for. What would my kids remember about growing up? What would it matter if dinner was perfect if all my kids remember is that mom was always too busy for them?
Well, my oldest son (fifth child) turns 6 today. His dad has been planning a fun campout with friends, complete with a bonfire, fun games, and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. Instead of the 'perfect' cake, this year the birthday boy helped me frost a plain 9x13 cake with orange frosting, which we then crowned with a paper cutout of the emblem for his favorite football team. He helped me choose the clipart and cut it out, and he was SO proud to be the one to carefully place it on his cake. It ain't pretty, let me tell you--the me of 5 or 8 years ago would be mortified to serve such a thing on an important occasion (with company!) But he is so happy and we've made memories this morning. I'm learning to be content with what is really important, instead of what is just 'perfect'.
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11 hours ago