i struggle wanting to be perfect: i want life under control. i want parenting to fit into a pretty box with a big bow. i want my life to look as put together as it does on my instagram feed, a perfect collage of colors, people, and order. here are my 5 steps on How-to be the PERFECT parent. if you just follow these steps, i promise you will be like Mary Poppins snapping your life magically into perfection.
1. Honesty, like the brutally, painful kind of honesty. Be honest with yourself about what you feel and think. don’t listen to guilt or shame that tells you how horrible you are. guilt and shame only drive us more into hiding, making those thoughts dig and gnaw away at us. Here is a little secret… lean in real close now… we have all had those dark thoughts. we’ve all had the silent wishes that are too terrible to even admit. instead of being silent, speak. Be honest because honesty is the first step towards freedom. dear friend, don’t be afraid. start with a whisper, invite a friend to come close, and slowly, the louder you speak the quieter those bad thoughts will get. be honest- with yourself, God, and others.
2. Admit. admit you aren’t perfect. i mean admit it like an alcoholic at an AA meeting. “Hello, I’m Anjuli and i’m a recovering perfectionist.” it sounds crazy, but it so liberating. When i meet people i let them know right off that i don’t have it together, but i want you to think i do. My weakness is wanting to put out an image that i have life under control, that i have my kids, house, clothes, you name it – in order. something about having life ‘in order’ – ‘perfect’ keeps me feeling safe, but that security is a lie. a big, mean, nasty looking lie that actually keeps me from experiencing true intimacy and relationship with others. don’t live that lie. don’t let others believe that lie either because that is mean too. it gets real slippery and messy and hard to keep up with the perfect you. you make mistakes, embrace it, live from that place of neediness and your heart for others will grow in great compassion. admit you need help, you don’t have anything together, and you are limping through most days. go to that AA meeting every morning you wake up and look in that mirror. the person you see staring back at you- gooey eyes, hair in a tangled mess of baby spit up and bed feathers- that’s the real you. admit it and move on.
3. Rhythm. find your rhythm, your pace, your way through the day that makes the most sense to YOU. I am calling it a ‘rhythm’ because a schedule freaks me out. when i hear the word ‘schedule’ i automatically get overwhelmed. following a schedule makes me feel like a failure the same way math made me feel dumb, too many steps to follow. a rhythm is like flipping to the back of your math book- so much easier. find the outcome you want and find the rhythm in your life that helps you get there. YOU are the parent. YOU have been given this child with his temperament, personality, and creativity because YOU are enough to shape their little heart into understanding how this whole human works. don’t do it like your neighbor or that blogger in Texas or your cousin. Do it like YOU because YOU have been given this child for a reason. because you are you. and this is coming from a mom who did the home-school thing and dropped out, tried co-sleeping and cry it out. every kid and every family finds it’s on rhythm. find your own pace, speed, and style. finding your rhythm will change through the different seasons, so maybe it’s more like a dance, but regardless- low expectations heed high results- so get your groove on.
4. be known so you can know. be the telescope of your own heart so you can see the heart of your children. the degree to which you can see yourself (the good, bad, ugly, and beautiful) is the degree which you will be able to really see your children’s heart. don’t let good behavior be enough. understand motive and what moves them to action. the more you sift through your own feelings the less your children’s feeling will trigger you. the more you understand your own anger, the less their tantrums will trigger your rage. the more you understand your anxiety the greater equipped you will be to handle theirs. you are the telescope to your children’s souls. the wound comes through the womb. your un-dealt with pain will become your kids pain, so deal with your issues. it isn’t easy. it is hard work to see yourself as you truly are. it is hard to grieve things you would rather stuff and painful to face your own insecurities and fears. but you are the adult and you hold the telescope- know your heart so you can know the heart of your child. be the telescope- adjust the lens, analyze the darkness, and move in carefully so you can see the stars.
5. Accept. accept your story. it has been written and it is yours. it is glorious and messy, but it’s yours. walk everyday (or rather- sleep walk with a coffee in hand) with the confidence that you are loved, you are accepted, you are enough. not because i say so, but God so loved the world- sent His only son- and died for you so you can live out a loud, beautiful, story filled with freedom, joy, grace, gratitude, resilience, courage, and creativity. it is a love story made for you. our eyes wander so quickly into wanting another story and we lose sight of the story etched in, behind, and before us. stay the course. step boldly into each new day. to accept your story, your children, your husband, your walls, and all that you might be lacking is to accept what you have been so graciously been given.
i know these 5 steps are for me. this is what i long and hope to be as a mom. i think when i live connected to these truths, i’m actually the closest to who i want to be as a mom, wife and child of God. when i am honest, admit my brokenness, find a rhythm that works for me, know my heart and the heart of my kids, and accept my story for what it is, i think i’m the closest to perfect i can be.
so if i’m saying that perfect parenting is actually being painfully honest, imperfect, vulnerable, and needy- YES, that’s exactly what i’m trying to say.
(I would add Pray as #6 but truthfully, all of these are a prayer. prayer is the breath of life. )