THE DESIRE FOR PERFECTION
I seem to have always had a yearning for the perfect family life. It may stem from my fairly dysfunctional, narcissistic parents who were only interested in themselves and the kids were just part of the furniture. To make up for that, I always pictured in my head how my family would look once I was married and had children of my own. But, somewhere along the line that picture has gotten a little blurry and I've had to re-think my expectations and perhaps even lower them a bit!
PERFECTIONISM AND CONTROL
After growing up in a family where my opinions were disregarded and I had very little say in things, I made very careful choices to ensure that didn't happen in my adult life. I wanted it all as perfect as possible because I always thought perfectionism was a really good thing - who wouldn't want a perfect life and a perfect family?
What I didn't realize is that perfectionism is based on fear and the need to control your surroundings - I only learned this recently thanks to Brene Brown and her book "The Gifts of Imperfection" - this is a hard lesson I'm still absorbing. Perfectionism sets everyone up for failure. As soon as something happens to mess with the neat little picture in your head, disappointment sets in. Disappointment always comes hand in hand with unhappiness and a sense of failure.
BRADY BUNCH FAMILIES
The Brady Bunch were a fictitious family living in a fictitious world - it is an unsustainable model to base your family life on and I should have known better. There was just this thing inside me that wanted the "Brady Bunch" happy family, the "Big Fat Greek Wedding" lets all live nearby and be part of each other's lives family. I'm no Carol Brady and there's no Greek heritage to base my parenting on so I was setting myself up for disappointment from the start.
It took a cascade of family upheavals to make me finally let go of some of those expectations and Brady Bunch ideals and start accepting reality. There were so many less than perfect things happening - my children living away from home with no plans to return, my husband not wanting a nice 9-5 job, my work being fairly miserable, my dad having full blown dementia.......and so it went on. What happened to the sunshine, lollipops and rainbows that I had pictured all those years ago?
I had two choices - Option 1) Living a life of regret and unhappiness based on real life not living up to a fiction I had created in my head of the perfect family living a controlled and perfect life and meeting all my perfect expectations.
Or I could choose - Option 2) Living a life that is real and gritty and less than perfect. I could lower my expectations and start appreciating the good things that were there all along but not acknowledged because I was looking elsewhere.
I now choose Option 2) as my Modus Operandi - no more perfectionism for this little black duck! Instead I look at my kids leading great lives, my husband happy in his freelance work, my new job with so many more benefits, my mum happy in her life now dad's in care, my friends, my blog, and my life which has so many different facets to it - some pretty close to perfect and some not so much.
Life is pretty darn good - with all it's imperfections. And to leave with a quote from Brené Brown — 'Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we'
re all in this together.'