"My kids don't want a perfect mom, they want a happy mom." - Unknown
I used to think that happiness was synonymous with perfection. I saw this quote recently when surfing the internet - "My kids don't want a perfect mom, they want a happy mom." - and it really hit home for me. For half of my life I have been obsessed with trying to be perfect. Since the age of 13 (or younger even), I have strived to be perfect. My idea was that if my life was perfect, then I would be happy. I have chased perfection when it comes to my physical appearance, my schooling, my home, my career, my reputation, and more. I find myself striving to be perfect in almost every area of my life. When I would fail or flounder (which is often), I was always extra hard on myself, because I would feel even farther away from the person I was supposed to be. I would set new goals and make new plans on how to get there. Guess what, most the time I would come up short on those promises and plans. In all honesty, it's far to late for me to be "perfect." I have too many tattoos and hard learned lessons for me to be considered a perfect person. I have killed my fair share of spiders, I have lied to others, I have cheated, and well, I have broken a lot of "perfect person" rules. I asked myself, does this make me happy? Does striving to be perfect make me a better, happier person? Am I happy? Is perfection even achievable?
The answer is No. There are moments in my life where I feel happy, but they were fleeting. Whenever I would meet a goal or accomplish a task the way I intended, I would feel happy. But it never lasted. What made me feel worse is that I should be happy. I have a great life by all standards. I get to stay home and raise my children, we go on vacations, I have a loving family, a supportive husband, healthy kid(s), a beautiful home that meets all of our needs in a wonderful neighborhood, a dependable great vehicle, money in savings, I have a healthy fully capable body, you name it... I have it all. Yet, I've struggled off and on with depression and gone to therapy over the years. So why am I not happy all the time? What is missing? Wouldn't achieving perfection make me happy?
The pursuit of perfection completely robs my joy.
The cost of being 'perfect' is high. Not only are my standards of perfection completely unrealistic (because they are fantasy) but they are also totally life consuming and unsustainable. Not only are my standards forever changing and evolving, but most of my measures of perfection are based on other's opinions which are completely unreliable and undependable. As soon as I became a mother, I started to strive for perfection in my new role. I read books, made organic homemade baby food, limited screen time, and did all the 'right' things. But I could never do everything right. With every choice you make, there is an opinion that goes against it. I slowly came to realize that there is no such thing as being a perfect mother. Parenting is a job filled with so much worry, self doubt, and conflicting opinions, which only made me more depressed. How could I ever be a successful perfect parent?
I started to think about what life would be like as a happy mom, not a perfect one. When I let myself imagine my life as a happy mom who stopped pursuing perfection, I felt completely relieved and excited. I could picture myself doing things because I enjoy them without worrying about it's contribution to my 'perfect' life ideals. I let go of my plans and started to enjoy life. I saw myself going to the pool and having fun, no matter how I looked. I could feel how my happiness was magnetic to my kids inspiring them to be happier themselves but also drawing us closer together. By focusing on being a happy mother for my kids, I am actually happier myself.
I can be a happy mom, even if that means I will never be a perfect mom.
Focus on HAPPY, not perfection. It was like a weight was lifted over every area of my life. All of my career goals, writings, marriage, plans, body ideas, etc become less consuming and more enjoyable. I started to take everything less seriously, a little 'lighter.' If I intended to be a happy mom, I didn't need to sweat or stress about the small stuff- that's what my "perfect mom' me does. Things in my home started to shift. I stopped worrying and planning so much. I started to become less reactionary and flowed more with what arouse. I stopped comparing myself to everyone else. I started to listen to myself and follow my heart more. I could write more freely, I could speak more freely, I could eat more freely, I could make choices more freely. I could go through my day more freely. I just started focusing on being happy and rolled with it.
Without a constant measure on yourself of what is "right" or "wrong" or if it's bringing you closer to "perfect," life becomes a hell of a lot more fun!
The happier you are, the happier they will be. Moods are magnetic. When you are around someone who is a total downer, it's like they drag you down too. My roller coaster of emotions was taking its toll on my family. I am thankful for the gift of this perspective shift. Now, life feels more even keel and sustainable. Which also helps me to feel more confident in my abilities to provide as a parent.
As a bonus, I decided to start consciously practicing gratitude. After all, happy people are grateful! As often as i could, I would feel true gratitude and enjoy all the areas of my life that presented themselves to me. I let myself like and eventually love my life. I started to enjoy the f*ck out of my life. My 'perfect me' always had a plan or a goal, a way to ensure my life would turn out great.
What's funny is, my life is happening now. If I wanted it to "turn out great,"
I better start living and enjoying it's greatness now.. or it will never come!
Whenever I would find myself going back to pursing perfection the only reminder I needed was, what do my kids want? They want a mom who is happy, not perfect. I don't need perfection to be happy, I can be happy today if I choose to be.
Kids don't want a perfect home, they want a happy home. One filled with love, hugs, and laughter! Not just immaculately clean and tidy. Kid's don't want a perfect marriage for their parents, they want a happy one. A marriage that disagrees respectfully, has discussions, speaks kindly, and sets a good example of how to love and get along with each other.
We all choose what we focus on with our thoughts. We are the only ones in our heads. It is our choice of who we want to be in every moment. We can choose to pursue perfection and goals. Just as we can choose to enjoy our lives right now. We all have a choice. The question is, how do you want to live?
I am not quite sure what the impact of this will be on my children just yet. But I am sure that our family will be closer. That home will feel like a safe haven full of acceptance and patience. Because if my goal as a mother is to be happy, I will set the standard that perfection is great, but happiness is king.