The culmination of a lot of things happened for me when I reached midlife. One of the biggest of these was to stop my need for everything to be perfect. I had perfectionism on a pedestal it did not deserve to be on. Perfectionism sucks big time! I was so busy trying to have my Brady Bunch life that I almost missed out on having the life I really deserved.
These are a few of the things I was trying to be:
- the perfect woman - no pressure here - just all things to all people - wife, housewife, mother, career woman, church goer, friend, all the balls in the air at the same time and dropping none.
- the perfect wife - no complaining, house immaculate, interesting conversation, great sex, fun company, equal partner, co-worker - Carol Brady eat your heart out.
- the perfect mother - well rounded kids, well spaced family, no yelling, no upsets, no upheavals, warmth, peace, love, and eat your vegetables - we won't even ask my kids how all that went down!
- the perfect grandmother - still working on that one but wanting to be there when I'm too far away, wanting her to know me, wanting to be a great role model, wanting to have fun times - and the poor child is only 4 months old!
- the perfect daughter - great relationships with my parents, the caring adult daughter, visiting, calling, caring, listening - passed some of this and failed dismally in some areas (who doesn't cry at their father's funeral? I bet Marcia Brady would have!)
- the perfect sister - I have two brothers, we talk infrequently, have nothing in common, don't bother to connect, participate in "happy families" once a year at Christmas and ignore each other for the rest of the year. Not exactly close!
- the perfect friend - available at any moment to drop everything and be there, warm, fuzzy, making casseroles, babysitting the kids, handing out profound thoughts and advice - big fail here....my friends have to settle for conversation and a laugh and hopefully that's enough!
- the perfect life - great job, kids living around the corner, money to burn, great travel destinations every few months, perfect marriage, not a care in the world - I'm not even going to try to compare what I have with that list!
The thing is, all of these perfect pictures hinge on what I think I should look like to others. The life I think I am expected to be living to appear to have succeeded. All my ducks lined up and following along in my wake without a quack out of place. And you know what? Real life is NOTHING like that - real life is not about perfection and trying to present a perfect face to the world to show others how well you're doing.
Real life is about being a real person, it's about doing your best to be all that you feel you're capable of. Some days that can mean a lot and other days it means you made it out of bed before lunch time (or is that just me?) It's not about what other people think or how you imagine they are judging you. Most people are too busy keeping their own s**t together to be worrying about mine. They are happy for me to be happy. They have their own less than perfect lives to be getting on with - they are perfectly happy for me to get on with my own.
SO MANY YEARS of trying to be the perfect everything - it's exhausting when I think about it! It has some benefits - aiming high meant that, on the whole, things worked out pretty well because I put in a lot of effort and there is a degree of reward in that. What is also does though, is suck the joy out of the whole thing. When you are so busy trying to get everything right and keep all those balls in the air, you miss out on the little pleasures along the way.
Now I don't care what people think, I don't care if my life isn't what you would expect. I don't even try to explain myself much anymore. If someone wants to judge, that is their problem and coming from a place of weakness on their part. It has NOTHING to do with me. My responsibility is solely to myself and my family and friends. All I have to do is what feels right to me and to allow others their imperfections along the way. If we all act in grace and with love, we aren't judging or being judged, we're just living this life in the best way possible and that works for me.