Letting Go of Perfectionism
by Nancy Drummond
Sweaty socks are strewn like wounded soldiers on the battlefield of my living room rug. On the coffee table, a trio of grimy glasses huddles miserably in puddles of condensation, next to a stack of unused coasters. Popcorn polka-dots the couch. And I wonder what happened to the order I established only hours ago.
Motherhood can feel like constant chaos, often creating a vibe of frustration and even resentment. But I found that the secret of perfecting the relationships in my life lies in letting go of my personal perfectionism through picking my battles, learning to compromise and accepting “good enough.”
Picking My Battles
The challenges of being a good mother and wife can feel unending and overwhelming. Too often, I’m obsessed with obtaining perfection, forgetting that imperfections make life interesting. Are sparkling floors worth missing a lazy afternoon at the park? Is a tidy and well-organized bedroom worth giving up a snuggly bedtime story? I’m learning to pick my battles wisely.
Learning to Compromise
I’m a bit of a neatnik, and my husband, well ... isn’t. A few years into our marriage, I was fed up with the piles up dirty clothes that popped up like mole hills whenever he came home. So we struck a deal. He could throw his clothes on the floor as much as he wanted as long as they stayed on his side of the bed (where I couldn’t see them). And then he had to put his dirty clothes in the hamper by laundry day. It was a compromise that we still live by a decade later.
Compromise requires giving up a little of me and unconditionally accepting a little of someone else. Compromise communicates a message of love in spite of any perceived faults.
Accepting Good Enough
As a little girl I expected “happily ever after,” a perfect result in an imperfect reality. But as a mom and a wife, accepting “good enough” in place of perfection does not mean settling or giving up my dreams. It simply means dreaming a new, realistic dream for my family. I’m choosing to forego “happily ever after” for happiness right now.
Sure, my husband may not be Prince Charming, but I’m not exactly Cinderella, either. My family life may be less like the Cleavers and more like the Cosbys — or even the Simpsons. My house may look more like a perpetual garage sale than a Good Housekeeping spread. But I am learning to love what is, instead of what could have been.
Nancy Drummond is a wife and mom of a 6-year-old. She’s a writer and also has worked as a classroom teacher and women's ministry leader.