The Perfectionist Parent

This post was written by Heather over at The Ordinary Extraordinary. It thought it pretty much sums up how I feel 99.9% of the time:

I totally admire mothers who keep their cool and remain positive and happy about their days. I really do. I strive to be her. But sometimes I'm just not capable. Today for example. I do believe I might combust. There is so much impatience and fatigue and frustration boiling around on my insides, I might actually explode, leaving my finally clean house covered in smoke and dust. But then I would be resting, so I don't mind.

The temptation to completely shut down is huge. Bigger than I ever thought it would be for me. I've seen other moms do that in a way. They simply don't pay much attention to their kids because it's just too hard. There's no way to keep up with it all. No way to remain positive and playful 24 hours a day by yourself. No way to get up at 5:30am and still feel like staying calm during the 400th "discussion" with a three-year-old at the end of the day.

It is so much easier to plop that little angel of yours in front of the TV and hope that their brain development isn't totally stunted. It's so much easier to say, "yes, you can have more Cheetos," just to avoid a fight. It's so much easier to keep your cool by never having the "discussion" in the first place. And maybe it's easier to ignore the fussy baby who cries every time he's put down, just walk away and wait for it to stop. These are some of the things I've actually been told to try, to ease the pressure and to catch a break.

But I can't do any of those things. I can't. Sure I do sometimes, just as anyone else. But for the most part I try really hard to do things the way my gut tells me is right. I follow through. I turn the TV off after the half hour is up. I keep my boys on schedule, leaving places where I'm having a great time to make sure they aren't over-tired. I feed them healthy foods and avoid sugar and other crap. When Miles doesn't listen, we figure it out even if that takes too long and it's the most frustrating thing in the world. (It's really hard to have someone consistently disregarding your every word, even if they're just being three. So I work hard at remembering that he's a little person with his own ideas, and isn't mature enough to understand that his fighting me is mostly for no good reason.)

And in the midst of all of it, I'm constantly considering what's best for them. Constantly thinking about how I want to handle some phase that's new. Constantly weighing whether or not I should worry about something that may be nothing.

It's hard to be a perfectionist parent. I'm tired. And I'm thinking I haven't really found the balance yet. I don't want to compromise on any of the things (and many more) I listed. I'm not saying that to toot my tiny little horn, I'm saying it because I really do know what's best for these people that have been entrusted to Ryan and I. I'm their mom. That means I have intuition about them. I don't want to give up, starting to ignore those pangs of knowledge because it's just too much work.

BUT, I don't want to combust either.

If I'm going to do this mom thing the way I really want to, not compromising on things that matter to our family, I have no other choice than to take breaks. Real breaks. Real refreshers. There is no other way to avoid combusting. A mother cannot work this hard and not lose her temper, her energy, her sanity, herself.

I don't exactly know how to pull it off, what with the traveling husband and all. But I owe it to my boys to figure out how to get more breathers. They don't need a mom that loses her cool every thirty seconds because she has nothing left to give. They need a mom who has enough energy to be a safe place for them. And my heart's desire is to be that mom. Maybe not perfectly all the time, but most of the time, consistently. A place of peace and refuge.


  1. So, so brilliant, this post. You are wise beyond your years, my dear, and your genuineness comes shining through.

  2. Wonderful post, and so well-written. I think you've said what's in every mother's heart of hearts. Both the perfecting and the combusting. And especially the needing of breaks. And you've expressed it SO WELL here. I love your resolve and your motivation.

  3. "wise beyond my years" huh? There's no telling how old I really am... (:

    What kind words ladies,
    thank you!


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