The other day I was sitting at the island in our kitchen chatting with my husband and his buddy. Lying on the counter in front of me were two cell phones, a pen and the remote. As we talked about the latest episode of GOT, I began lining the objects up with the tile, positioning each item to create a perfect square. I didn't even realize I was doing it until my my husbands friend noticed and messed them up in a playful banter. We joked about my perfectionist personality and possible mild OCD and brushed it off with a laugh.
Later, I started to think about that personality trait and how I've always worn it with pride. I've always liked things a certain way and I really like being in control. Who doesn’t? So much, in fact, that I find myself doing extra work just to have things my way.
And then I thought about how that affects me as a mom and how it shapes the mom I've become.
I realized that I've made my job as a mom so much harder on myself because of my perfectionist personality. I find myself doing everything myself because I want it done my way, rather than letting my husband or my mom help me just because they might do things differently.
Case and point:
On Mother's Day, we had my parents over to celebrate. I was a little bit (okay, maybe a lot bit) pouty all weekend because I was going to have cook and clean for the holiday that was supposed to be about giving moms the day off. So I prepped all the food the day before and the plan was for my husband to BBQ so I wouldn't actually have to cook on Mother's Day.
But when it was time to BBQ, I found myself micromanaging every move my husband made. "Why did you put the skewers in that direction? You can fit more if you put them the other way," "Why don't you put the corn on the shelf so you can cook the chicken and steak at the same time?" "Are you sure they're done? Did you use the thermometer?"
I know what you're thinking, LET THE MAN COOK! (And also, what a nag!) Isn't this what you wanted? To not cook?
And that is what I wanted. So why couldn't I just let go and let him do it?
It's so silly to say out loud but I find myself doing it every single day. I'll fold the towels because I want them folded into thirds and my husband will fold them in half. I put the groceries away because I want them in a certain place on the shelf. My husband even teases me with the threat that he's going to vacuum because he knows that I love the satisfaction of vacuuming up each and every dog hair.
So when I had my son, my perfectionism was really challenged.
I had a hard time transitioning into my new role as a mom because I instantly felt overwhelmed. I felt like over night my work load had tripled. And it did, but it didn't have to fall all on me. I had people to help me. My husband, my mom. But I just couldn't let go. I felt this uncontrollable sense of responsibility, like I was supposed to be doing everything because I was a mom now. So I felt overwhelmed and sometimes resentful. I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders.
I still catch myself doing this all the time. I’ll start to feel overwhelmed because I’m trying to cook dinner and put the dishes away and suddenly Vinnie needs his diaper changed so I drop everything to change the dirty diaper. But then I realize the rice is burning on the stove so I run to the kitchen to save our dinner. And now Vinnie‘s got a glass coffee cup in his hand because I left the dishwasher open. And the timers going off because the veggies are done.
And meanwhile, all I had to do was ask my husband to change the damn diaper to save myself from losing my mind.
In my husbands defense, he would gladly help me if I would let him. He’s gotten so used to me telling him, “I’ll do it,” that he doesn’t bother to ask.
The truth is, being a perfectionists makes me a tired, overwhelmed, burnt-out mommy.
SO HERE ARE THREE WAYS I'M TRYING TO BE LESS OF A PERFECTIONIST MOMMY
Acceptance- You know what they say, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Hi, my name is Jamie and I am a control freak. There, I said it.
It took me two years of motherhood to finally reflect and accept that perfectionism is affecting my ability to be a good mom.
Relax- If you're a perfectionist (control freak) like me, you've heard this your whole life. But when it comes to being a mom, you really have to let go and let God. It's impossible to control everything my kid says or does. And I shouldn't want to. I want him to grow up to be the unique individual he's supposed to be so it's my job as his mom to give him that freedom. Even if it means mismatched socks, messy hair and monster trucks scattered in every corner of our house.
Ask for Help- This is a hard one for me. I feel guilty asking for help, even from my husband. I would rather do everything than inconvenience somebody else. I would rather suffer than let somebody else suffer. But this just isn't realistic. There's a reason they say, "it takes a village," because raising a child is tough work. I'm fortunate to have people around me that can help so it's my responsibility to ask for help and allow help because trying to do it all on my own makes me a grouchy mom.
So in the the words of Elsa, "let it go, let it gooooo." And that's exactly what I'm trying to do.
J A M I E L Y N N E