Everything doesn’t need to be Perfect
I used to be a professional who gave 110% to my work. I was good at my job, some would even say great. I won commendations from our CEO in the US. I relocated 600 people without one of them losing a single item in to a brand new building of 160000 square feet over 5 weekends. I was a perfectionist, I did what I need to get a job done perfectly.
Enter being pregnant and motherhood. I struggled at being pregnant, I didn’t do it well, I didn’t bloom, I didn’t enjoy it, I was very ill indeed. I was pants at giving birth too and managed to end up with a crash section. Breast feeding, yes you guessed it failed at that too. Are you seeing a pattern here?
MaxiMad was a trying baby, he suffered really badly from colic, the other mums in my NCT group would look smugly at me and him, thankful that there children didn’t cry all the time like maximad. Initially they offered to hold him in the hope of soothing, but soon stopped offering when he didn’t stop crying even for them. We tried everything colief, new bottles, new formula, baby massage and finally cranial osteopathy, which seemed to do the trick,
He didn’t sleep for more than 4 hours at a time and that was a record, he was a challenge, but when he smiled at me it made it all worth while. Then he got very ill, so ill he was hospitalised and ventilated and transferred to ICU at Great Ormond Street Hospital. I felt a total failure. I had failed my child, I had failed to pick up on his condition, could it be my fault, could it have been down to the medication I had to take to get through the pregnancy, could it have been from the general anesthetic I had to have at 20 weeks pregnant, was he starved of oxygen at birth, had I compromised his immune system from not breast feeding. I worried, I felt guilty, I felt I had failed at being a mother.
He got better and we learned to deal with his condition and I started to feel sick and dizzy. I put it down to the lack of sleep, but no it was MiniMad, we were shocked, but delighted.
I would love to say I found my second pregnancy and birth easy, but if anything it was as traumatic and eventful my first. MiniMad was born with a bowl condition and this ensured lots of sleepless nights and worry too.
I now felt a total failure, I had a 50% chance of having a healthy baby and I failed at that too. So I over compensated. I cleaned, I made sure we were all dressed, I ironed at 2 in the morning. MaxiMad and MiniMad only every had home cooked food, no nasties, no sweets, no tins, no salt, no sweetners. I did every everything to make it look like we were getting along swimmingly, when in all honesty I might have looked effortless, the fact was I was drowning.
In the end I gave up, both mentally and physically and MadDad sought some help for me.
During my bleak dark times, I was repeatedly told to stop being a perfectionist. It is not a perfect world, to relax, to enjoy being a mum and take things as they come. Stop trying to control every event and you know what, when it finally sunk in they were right. You can not control children’s behaviour 100% of the time, but you can control yours.
So some quotes, which sum this up for me:
You cry the same amount of tears over a children lifetime,
Some people shed more in the beginning, others in the end.
Being happy, Inst about everything being perfect,
Its about learning to look beyond the imperfections
There is no one way to be a perfect mother,
but there is a million ways to be a good one.
I finally understand that we dont live in a perfect world, I was being to hard on myself and had unrealistic expectations of parenting (but that is another post altogether) and I needed to just do the best I could at the time. It was OK to not be perfect at everything, in fact by not being perfect I was doing a really good job of preparing my children to live in the imperfect world.
This post was written for Sleep is for the weak’s Wednesday Writing Workshop. I chose prompt number 5. Write about the best piece of advice you have ever been given.
Ah well being hard on ones self is not so easy to stop.
I didn't / couldn't breastfeed and was made to feel a failure funnily enough by a man – his wife was Mrs Earthmother – babies suckling off her til well into their er, twenties !
Wee man has lots of allergies & I wonder if I had succeeded at breast feeding if he would be better. ( he adores me all the same )
Some women have terrible pregnancy & birth experiences but we all have this perfect picture.
When I brought DD home I cried & cried as I simply did not know what to do with her ! ( it doesn't seem to have affected her – we have a great relationship ! )
You do a great job – your children look very happy in the pics I've seen so give yourself a good pat on the back !
I think we're all hard on ourselves too much but that doesn't stop us doing it. Lovely post to read btw, and I think just by reading your blog and looking at the pictures of your kids, you're doing a great job x
This rings so true with me – I was a workaholic perfectionist too, and found the lack of control when TallSmall came along to be completely overwhelming. I still have those tendencies – I suspect they'll never leave me – and I see them starting to come in TallSmall which makes me worry for her. Are you also someone who finds it hard to say "No" when asked for help? I'm really working on that one now!
We'll all get there in the end – and your children are now clearly thriving on all the love and attention you give them!
An amazing post to read. God it's all just too bloody hard at times. And I think your opening about the comparison with being successful at work is so true, and conspires to make one feel more inadequate. Thanks for sharing, and the advice.
Great post, I hope now that we can all agree that motherhood is not easy and anyone who says that it is is delusional (or has lots of nannies).
Some days are better than others, especially during the early months, but I just have to look at my little crayons to know that it was all worth it and continues to be worth it.
I must admit, with second crayons I was much more chilled and that was aa big factor in sanity wars.
Two have raised two children you cannot be such a bad parent.
"There is no one way to be a perfect mother,
but there is a million ways to be a good one."
I think this comment should be told to every expectant mother as i believe it to be true. Keep battling on with your head held high! =)
Fantastic post. As you know I can empathise with much of what you say. If we mums realise that being perfect isn't the be all and end all then I think we'll all be much happier.
So true – fantastic advice. You've come through some really dark times but you only need to look at the snaps of you and the boys to see that you are everything they need you to be. I'm still in awe of all your creative energy and your drive to share it with them.
I am inordinately hard on myself (as you've probably noticed)but I'm getting there. I think it's about discovering what you ARE good at as a mother/ what DOES go right, and holding on to that with all your might.
Thanks, as always, for your inspiring words xx
Great post. That beginning bit is……..ah. makes me shudder still to think about it. You go through so many changes from work. I was like you to being at home. Finding your new self with rampaging hormones and a new baby without a manual…..is the hardest thing we all do. Glad you stuck through.
Good post. I can really relate to the perfectionism. I've been doing some thinking recently about being a 'good enough' rather than a perfect mother. In any case, being perfect would give our children some pretty unrealistic standards and expectations. I love your quotes.
I could/should have written much of this post. The perfectionism, the successful career, the blaming yourself when something regarding your baby/child doesn't go to plan…
Sadly I still haven't cracked it but keep telling myself that 'good enough will do' and hope that until I start truly believing I manage to stay sane(ish) and don't damage the one thing that I am trying so hard to perfect…Star.
As for you Mrs, I've said it before and I'll say it again…you are the 'model' parent that I am striving to be – you're one in a million x
Ooh, I absolutely adore this post. You are so right, we don't live in a perfect world so we can't possibly be perfect. If we try to be then we will always fail. It took me a long time to realise that. I love your quotes too. I'm reading this at 10pm and it's a positive note to go to sleep on.
I too beat myself up, mainly for not being the best mum – which is the kind of mother I thought I'd be. I'm also a crap housewife who can't keep on top of the laundry, hopeless at multitasking and I know I could do better in the kitchen too. It's only now am I starting to cut myself some slack…but only because I've become too busy to think about.
Nothing really prepares you for having children and I really hate the high expectations that are put on mums. Sorry you went through this. Don't you feel better now that you've written about it?