Sunday, August 7, 2011

Confessions of an imperfect perfectionist

Being a perfectionist while being totally imperfect sucks. I hate being a perfectionist. I'm not sure when I became one. All I know is that I have been trying to let go of this part of my personality and it is not easy. I'm not even sure it is possible.

I don't expect other people to be perfect, just myself. Certain people in my life I do have high expectations of, but in the end I am forgiving of their short comings. I'm not so kind with myself.

(Just to keep things real. Here is a very imperfect picture of me. I didn't even do a mother's day post because all the pictures of me were hideous. But since I'm working on overcoming my perfectionism, I am throwing this one out there.)

My house is not perfect. There is always something that needs to be cleaned or organized. I go to sleep every night thinking about what I didn't get done that day and what I need to do the next day. I hate that it takes my kids 30 seconds to destroy a days worth of work for me. Everyday I struggle with letting go of my anger about the piano books on the floor and the milk being left out on the counter.

My body is not perfect. This is a battle that I have been waging since I was in seventh grade. SEVENTH GRADE! I am so over letting my body issues dictate my mood. Some days I am great at accepting this body of mine. Thick thighs and all. Other days not so much and I have to work very hard to be at peace with it. Being swim suit season is making it harder than usual.

My parenting is not perfect. Sometimes I'm too hard and sometimes I'm too lenient. Everyday I am seeking a balance. Each child is at a different developmental stage so the expectations have to be different. Keeping up with their needs is exhausting.

My wife skills are lacking. I expect a lot from Aric and I try not to get annoyed with his lack of cleaning and organizing skills but he is great at so many other things I need to chill. He is the only one that is allowed to see all of my imperfections and yet I have a hard time looking over his weaknesses.

My personal relationship with God is a roller coaster. I get lazy and don't do my scripture study everyday. My morning prayers are hit and miss. I try to serve others but sometimes I'm picky about who and what I do.

My projects, painting, sewing, upholstering, jewelry making, writing, etc...take longer than necessary because they have to be perfect. Even when I feel like I have done my best it is still so hard to look at the finished product and be satisfied. I know where a seam is crooked, or where a brush stroke isn't straight and it drives me nuts!

Literally, every conversation, weighs on me because I want to make sure it is "perfect". I want to make sure my words truthfully match how I feel. I want to be authentic. I hate being fake. I truly can't do it. It's tricky because in some situations it would be better if I could be fake. I worry that this makes me a bad friend sometimes because my close friends hear my thoughts and opinions unfiltered.

It's so ridiculous because on one hand I want the world to know that I am imperfect. I don't want anyone to think bad about themselves because they are comparing themselves to me. I hate feeling less than perfect and I don't want anyone to beat themselves up the way I do.

I've already seen these perfectionist tendencies in Eden and it worries me. I'm trying my best to teach her how to let things go. How to do her best and be happy with that. There will always be someone smarter, more talented, prettier, skinner, more organized, etc...if I can get her to realize that, then she will be a much happier person the rest of her life.

Great advice huh. So now I am trying to practice what I preach. It's Not Easy. I had a moment last week that gave me some perspective.

Eden and I were clashing...seriously clashing. Like bumper cars crashing. My patience was already thin due to the messy house and company that was coming. I erupted and yelled...I felt the spirit try to hold me back. I literally heard the words in my mind, "don't leave this room" (I was in the laundry room, Eden was on the stairs complaining and fitting), I chose to ignore them and went after her. She got a talking to like no other. No swearing or name calling just yelling. Ugly face yelling.

When it was over she was in her room crying. I stormed back to the laundry room and started to cry myself. I went up and talked to her. I told her I was sorry and explained why I was so angry, part of it was her but mostly it was me. We had a good talk and she quickly forgave me.

Later that night I had a conversation with Heavenly Father. I told him about how I hate failing as a parent and that I am not cut out for this job. It was just one more thing that I wasn't perfect at.

The next day while I was running, I heard Him speak to my heart through the spirit. I know that this may sound strange to some people but I know that God speaks to us. We can receive personal revelation. We just have to be open to hear His voice. I poured out my heart and he answered. He told me that he gave me the children I was supposed to have. As badly as I wanted more children and have my children closer in age, he knew me better. He knew that he didn't give the skills and patience needed to have more children and that was okay. My skills lie elsewhere.

This revelation was bittersweet for me. Yay that Heavenly Father knows me and took time to speak to me. Nay that I don't have the skills that other women have to mother more children. Yay that Heavenly Father accepts and loves me and doesn't expect me to be perfect. He knew what he made when he made me.

The spirit also helped me realize that being imperfect doesn't mean that I am failing. There are a few grades between A and F, and thankfully we are graded on overall performance.

Today's grades looked like this...

House...B-. I was going to give myself an A because it's the Sabbath so I don't stress about it as long as the dishes get done it's all good. But then I remembered getting after my girls because there were SIX wet towels on the floor in their bathroom. SIX. I was firm but not mean.

Body...A. I didn't even wear my spanx. I just wanted to be comfortable.

Parenting...B-. I made sure we were all ready for church in plenty of time so there was no stress. We had enough time that we could leisurely walk to the chapel instead of speed walk. We had good conversation and everyone was good at church. I took Eden with me to take dinner to a family who just had a baby and we had got lost but enjoyed our time together. I didn't watch shark week with them instead I worked on this blog post. That wasn't so good.

Wifey Responsibilities...C. I started dinner but Aric did most of it. We haven't had a chance to talk much today. I had him get up and get C breakfast so I could stay in bed. I am still working on this post instead of hanging out with him.

Spiritual Stuff...B. I didn't do my morning prayers but I made sure to listen to hymns as I got ready. I gave my lesson about how Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us to my nursery kiddos. I will read my scriptures and pray before I go to bed.

So all in all, today I give myself a B- and I'm okay with that.

I could pick my day apart even more and find the little things that I could have done better but I'm not. Instead I am going to end this post and go help Aric with the dishes.


Shirley said...

Jessica, I am going to give you an A for this post. It seriously is so comforting to read honest and real thoughts from another mom/wife/blog friend/woman. Thank you for sharing what many people that will be commenting/reading your post today feel as well. It helps me tremendously on my own day to day imperfections know that I am not the only one that feels a lot of these same things. THANK YOU! Sincerely, your almost in-real-life friend if we had stayed in LL a little longer.

Anica said...

This probably took a lot to post and leave up, if you're anything like me. I almost have a hard time commenting! But I just want you to know that I feel the same way and struggle with the same tendencies. Thank you for posting the most honest and open post. I was praying about the same matter a week ago and opened to D&C 98 (randomly). I read the first three verses and felt completely comforted. The Lord hears our prayers and all his promises will be fulfilled one day. Thank you for a wonderful post-I felt the Spirit as I read it.

calibosmom said...

I absolutely adore you and all your imperfections! You would be boring if you were perfect so please don't try so hard. Reread "O Be Wise" by Russell Ballard-words to live by.

Lindsey said...

Oh Jessica... I can't even believe a girl as thin as you wears spanx. Do you know EVERY time you post I wish I was more like YOU??? I am sure many others do too. Definitely learn to be more kind to yourself. You are AMAZING and you accomplish so much. You have amazing skills and you are beautiful. If you want to teach your daughters anything teach them that they don't have to be all of those things. Teach them to just love themselves...

Love you.

Nurse Graham said...

My heart hurt for you as I was reading this post. You are too hard on yourself. Yes, Heavenly Father wants us to work towards being perfect, but He also wants us to be satisfied with right now. Elder Scott said in the October 2010 conference "Life may seem difficult right now, but hold on tightly to that iron rod of truth. You are making better progress than you realize".I find comfort in that last sentence. It helps me realize I don't have to do it all now. Eternity is a long time to attain perfection.

PS I enjoyed running with you on Saturday. If we don't get in another run together before your half marathon, good luck. I think you are terrific.

Ashley C said...

Jessica, I feel like you just wrote everything that's been going through my mind lately. I could never put it into words like you did. Very well said. Just know- you're not alone in feeling that way. For the record, I think you're amazing.

Lauren in GA said...

Oh, Jessica, that was such a wonderful, honest and real post. I appreciated you putting it out there for us to read so, so, so, much.

Because I am overweight I always assume that a beautiful, thin girl like you would never have body image issues. It just goes to show that we never know the private pain and feelings of insecurity that someone may be feeling.

You are so wonderful. Thank you for this real post.

Rochelleht said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. I so relate to SO much of it. Thank you!!!

(now I guess I better go read my scriptures...)

just the five of us said...

Thanks for this uplifting post Jessica! I have been feeling the same way too, especially since I have been back to school for the last 2 weeks.

The girl I run with and I had this very discussion on Saturday morning. She said that if we were already perfect, then there would be no reason to be here. Heavenly Father wants us to learn from our imperfections that is what life is for. It is important to have balance in life, spirituality and living life. (:

I agree with Shirley this post is an A.
Love Janet

Tina said...

I LOVE this post!!!!

Rachel said...

I relate to this post sooo much! I too am a perfectionist and I've decided that perfectionism and motherhood do not mix. Honestly I fail as a mother multiple times a day but I think the most important thing is that I keep trying to have a perfect mom day and I haven't totally given up...yet. The Lord never gives up on us so we need to be more forgiving of ourselves. Rylynn is my mini-perfectionist and it is so hard for me to see and hear her be so hard on herself! Maybe that's why the Lord sent us these girls some can constantly remind them that they don't have to be perfect so they won't be like us when they grow up:) You are amazing and i think you're pretty near perfect already!

Elena said...

As you know so well, I'm quite imperfect and yet I too am a perfectionist. You probably don't know 'cause my projects don't turn out nearly as nice as you ;) It is easy to see all our imperfections and lose sight of our perfect moments of which I know you have a lot. It was hard at first to read your post, because that's not how I see you. You accomplish so much, so well that it blows me away. I want to be more like you. I'm glad in the end you are gave yourself a "B". I would however give you an A-. A couple of years ago at Stake Conf Dan Leonard said "Heavenly Father knows your faults, your weaknesses and loves you because in spite of them we keep trying. We don't give up. He knows our challenges and is our biggest cheerleader! I always thought I was. I got misty thinking all the time I'm feeling like a failure and He's shaking His head, but He's actually smiling saying something like " look at that, she side tracked for a moment but then regrouped and made things right with her daughter, husband", etc. It's the same with you and more because you've aready done so much more. I love you for all that you are, try to be and for all that is yet to come.

Jean McKendrick said...

I got tears in my eyes just reading this post. I am a perfectionist too and go to bed every night exhausted and aching because I try so hard to do everything PERFECTLY. It's never all done, there is always more to do that I worry about in my sleep. I get upset and scream at my kids for reasons similar to the one you shared. I went to bed feeling bad last night because of it. I am sure there is medication that would help. :)
I have always thought you were cute and fun to be around. As an adult I think you are a wonderful mother, great example and are super cute. It's amazing to me when my friends who I think are beautiful say they have issues with their bodies. I sometimes feel guilty and wish I could handle more than two kids. The two I have almost put me over the edge some days though. :) Thanks for sharing your life, I think it helps to know other people are feeling the same way.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I too have been struggling with some of these same things. In particular, having more children. I received my answer but struggling because I'd love to have more. Thank you, thank you for sharing. Hugs Susannah xx

the Aymster said...

What can I say. You made me cry again. I love your blog and how open and real you always are. I am definitely not a perfectionist with myself but I expect my kids to be perfect. I can totally relate to the six towels on the floor (Toria is 13 now) and the milk left out. If I ever get on Toria about her room she throws it back on me and says, well your room isn't always clean.
Lindsey was right, there are many people who are in awe of your many talents and skills and your downright awesomeness!! Thanks for sharing your beautiful life with all of us.