Parenting Perfection- the oxymoron

I'm a perfectionist but I am not perfect. My perfection lies in the pain and consternation I feel when I fall short of my desired goals. Working used to cause me a great deal of anguish. To think, every day, someone told me I didn't do what I was supposed to and if I did it, I didn't do it right. I'd cry and then I'd think horrible thoughts about the people and hold a grudge against them for as long as possible. This is the period of my life I learned the definition of and embodied the term, passive-aggressive. Anyone who has spent more than a year in the work-force knows that in order to succeed, we must move beyond the criticism and take pride in our work regardless of what others say. Or lack of raises year after year. I am somewhat tainted and bitter about working, but it's just The Man, so I like to think I am able to blow it all off. Plus, having a kid enables you to hang work problems in the mudroom and forget while life goes on each evening and weekend.

It's harder to check home problems at the work door and falling short as a parent is much more painful than as an employee. "I didn't complete those TPS reports properly? Oh, boss, I'm so sorry about that. Yeah, I'll make sure to meet that deadline, uh, next time." I can't play that emotionally disconnected game with my daughter. "Oh, Caroline, I'm so sorry I didn't realize I had to clean between your itty, bitty, pudgy toes and now they are all infected because of my laziness. I promise after we have your toe cut off that I'll clean every day between the nooks of the three still left on your foot."

We learn by making mistakes. I don't like to make mistakes. I like to think I was born perfect and my husband can attest; I do not even like to recognize mistakes. I'd rather take my little sweeper and sneak all mistakes under the rug. (Nobody'll find them in our house full of cat hair dust bunnies and crunched up crackers.) When it comes to parenting I'm in a dark cave with a lowly lit head lamp so I shouldn't be surprised when I hit an occasional stalactite or stalagmite. Instead I feel like the whole cave is falling in around me and it's soon going to be broadcast for the entire world to see. "Coming up, tonight, on the 5 o'clock news: child in Fly Creek, NY has dirt behind her ears. Who is her neglectful, delinquent parent? Stay tuned to find out."

At least and only with her can I can swallow my pride and tell her I'm sorry when I'm not the quintessential mommy. Does she forgive me? I'm so lucky, because right now, she does. Even after I slip up, she will slip her arms around me, rest her soft cheek on my shoulder and looks at me like I'm just right, like I'm perfect just the way I am.

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