Perfection

11 Months Willow-7.jpg

Things have been quiet round these blog parts. I have to admit that I have sacrificed blogging time for recharge time a lot lately. Maybe other people are like this, or maybe it's just me, but I tend to have super productive days where I take on the world and get a million things done... boom bam boom! And then days where I can't seem to do more than get by. I may get some laundry done and keep the kitchen half clean, which is a full time job when you're at home all day and make three semi-healthy meals for you and your baby.

Those days where I feel intrinsically motivated to go forth and conquer are always so satisfying. If I decided to clean, then I clean for hours and the efforts are noticeable (to me! haha). If I am editing photos, I knock out half a wedding, bam! If I'm doing yard work, I get it DONE. I don't just go to the store and buy what I need, I get everything in that domain finished that day (hello, last week's mulching project). It's really rewarding to look at your accomplishment and say yes, THAT is what I did today. Everyone, look what I did.

But most days are just not like that. Especially in stay at home life, in this particular brand of motherhood. Erik sometimes says "so what did you do today?" and I may reply "we survived." Not because the day was rough or anything, though sometimes it was, but because just existing, playing, cleaning, cooking, shopping, running errands, paying bills, responding to emails, maintaining your home, all these things consume your day before you even begin to do something like work on your business or I don't know, relax! 

This is especially true if you have the perfectionist streak that I do. I'm sure nobody really enjoys the thought of doing something poorly, but it is cringe inducing to me. Everything I do, I want to do to the best of my ability. This is good and bad, as it means I usually do a good job on things. Bad because it can paralyze me if I don't feel prepared or ready enough to do that good job. Well, parenting is the toughest job in the world right? It is ever evolving, and so I am ever learning. And it is very satisfying to me. I am in my element when I'm learning and enjoying new ideas (holler back, my fellow Ravenclaws) even when the ideas can get a little scary. Knowledge isn't always comforting. But I've never been so passionate as I am about parenting, so I've happily thrown myself into it headfirst.

I think one of the greatest struggles parents feel is that pressure for perfection. I feel it, too, so no judgement there. Here's a little story that perfectly encapsulates this... I have been thinking about what kind of cake to make for Willow's birthday this year. I browsed Pinterest for a long time, just looking for the PERFECT one that would be delicious, pretty, AND healthy. I mean, there are gluten free and dairy free members of our family, and I thought it would be nice if they could eat the cake too! So I bought ingredients to practice it and make sure 1. it tasted good and 2. I knew how to do it PERFECTLY for her actual birthday. Erik told me I should just buy a pre-made cake and be done with it, but I thought it would be so much  more meaningful and fun and set a sweet precedent that I would always make her a cake for her birthday. So, I finally made this cake and, well, it was okay. It tasted good (not according to Erik), was relatively healthy and very allergy free, but not very pretty (probably my fault). Willow and I enjoyed the leftovers for about a week.

What is the lesson here? Well, I have a lot of unnecessary ingredients in my pantry now. I spent hours working on a "PRACTICE" birthday cake. And while I'm all for an abundance of cake, I stepped outside myself and thought how silly it all was. Sure, I want the best for my Willow, but I don't plan on completely restricting sweets from her as she grows up, so why am I making this so hard? It's that striving for perfectionism. It's because I went to a "healthy desserts" class and discovered delicious and healthy can go together, so that's what I should do!

I think we all have our limits on this type of thing. Some people hand their kids a soda and say "I drank soda growing up, you'll be fine!" Some people think a daily sugary treat is a good limit. We all have our own parameters on what is okay. And I think we should be careful with that, because it's easy to say "just this once" and fall down a slippery slope. But for me, more often than not, I have to remind myself not to overkill the perfection. It's okay to have a less than perfect cake at a baby's birthday party. It's okay if my bathroom counter is never tidy enough to my liking. It's okay if I miss a day of blogging.

Yesterday I was planning to blog and then Willow had the weirdest night ever and I didn't get to bed until after 2am and was up bright and early before 7am. I would normally trudge through because "eh, that's life." But yesterday, I let go of guilt and focused on recharging. I sat outside in the grass with Willow for almost an hour, watching her crawl around and explore. I dressed up in a nice, non yoga pants outfit that made me feel good. Willow and I took a field trip for lunch to get smoothies, which I never ever do unless I'm meeting someone else. We took a long shower together. I tried to nap and when that failed, I started 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. I just lived. And by the time Erik got home and asked how I felt after the horrible night he knew I'd had, I felt fine. I was a little tired, sure, and I so wish I had been able to nap! But I was replenished. 

So all this rambling is to say, I think our lofty goals are worthy pursuits for sure. But go easy and live easy, too. I like to zoom out of myself and look at my life objectively sometimes and think about what will matter in the long run, and it won't be that I took an extra day to respond to emails or that I made the extra tall layer cake or that the toys are picked up in the living room. Watching Willow and Lily explore the yard beats those things every time.