Do you ever feel as though you live in a world where “Stepford Wives” roam the produce aisle in stilettos looking impossibly perfect? We all have this picture of a flawless woman ingrained in our minds but how did this skewed belief come to be? If you feel the pressure that society places on modern-day women to be the “perfect” wife and raise “perfect” children while looking polished and seemingly content, then stay put because I’ve got a few myths and misconceptions to dispel while shedding some light on the actual truth.
Society has us believing that it is the status quo to effortlessly make top wage; run marathons as a pastime, keep spotless homes, and still manage to have dinner on the table. This unrealistic portrayal of a wife and mother has set the bar too high for the rest of us common folk; making us feel inadequate at times. The truth is wearing oversized sweats with a side ponytail, while grasping a screaming baby in a football hold, and trying to pull together something less than mediocre for dinner is closer to reality.
What women must do is acknowledge and accept that we all have good, bad, and worse days and no one zeros in on them better than us because we are our toughest critic. Sure we try our best to be the best, but at what cost? The harsh reality is that in this day in age, women are expected to raise a family, look great, earn the bread and make it too without complaint. So how do we balance the cultural expectation to be this ideal woman who can do it all, while still maintaining our self-worth and sanity in the meantime?
Holding witness to many hardworking parents striving to provide the best for their families, I felt that it was important to offer a moment of self-reflection on our role as a parent. Ask yourself, while performing countless duties for those around you, are you making time for yourself and meeting your own needs? Or does being “Supermom” come with its limitations, leaving you at the bottom of the totem pole while sacrificing your internal happiness? I bet many of you are thinking, “I’m lucky if I get to shower without someone calling out for me”. The shocking truth is women are most at risk of experiencing anxiety or depression during their childbearing years. Statistically speaking, 1 in 4 women will go on to develop a mood disorder in their lifetime which is alarming and is cause for concern. We have to be mindful of this rising epidemic and consciously try to find ways to cope with the pressures of being a woman today.
In my effort to self-preserve, I’ve decided to adopt a “good enough” approach to parenting and thought I would share it with you. The fact of the matter is that “good enough” parenting is sufficient enough to ensure your child grows up to be a well-adjusted adult. Children are far more resilient than we give them credit for.
It is a decision that you’ll have to make whether being a perfectionist is working for you and your family. To be a high-achieving parent is great, especially when you up your “game” for certain moments that call for it. However, knowing when to hang back and take five is critical to your well-being and the impact it has on your family’s overall happiness. A child can recognize if a parent cannot accept “imperfection”. As a result, they become anxious and overwhelmed. Sadly, children are a product of their parents and their environments, so if you lack in self-esteem, this may translate into your child feeling discouraged and wanting to give up on trying to succeed at their own set goals.
As a recovering perfectionist, I recognize the importance of “being the best” versus “doing your best”. Sometimes you get so caught up in comparing yourself to someone who makes everything look easy peasy that you fail to realize that parenthood is by no means a contest. Comparing yourself to the likes of others wins you no prize. Instead, you wind up laying guilt-trips which lead to resentment toward yourself and those around you.
Opting out of the “race to perfection” doesn’t make you any less of a parent, or any less-loving. To the contrary, when you’re confident in your own abilities as a parent you hold a positive self-image. This in turn creates a healthy atmosphere in which children can feel secure and seek happiness and contentment. It just means setting priorities, seeking fulfilment, and finding a balance that is ideal for your ethos. Why not aim to be perfectly real rather than “real perfect”. In actuality, the more you fret about being at the top your “game” the more emotionally unavailable you become. As a parent who only wants to do right by her family, I understand that making reasonable goals is beneficial to effective parenting but only if allowing room for mistakes accompanies it. Admitting to “imperfection” allows others to do so too. This leads to a healing connection with others and contributes to a thriving community.
Simply put, if you choose to consume yourself with the small, insignificant things in life, the more withdrawn you’ll be which will disconnect you from what really matters, your family. It is more admirable to be a role model to your children by acknowledging when you make a mistake as long as you admit when you’re wrong and apologize when necessary. It is healthy for your psyche to forgive yourself in order to recover and move forward.
The important take home message here is to set realistic, attainable goals that ultimately have you and your family’s best interest at heart. We are all guilty of placing too much emphasis on perfection and holding high and often unreal expectations for ourselves, but at what cost? We live in a world where women have choices; some may be predetermined, but it is up to you to make the right choice that best suits you. The challenge lies in recognizing that having the freedom to make choices comes with the responsibility to make them wisely, and that is to live happily and not spend your time and energy on striving for something that doesn’t truly exist. Recognizing that the quest for perfection is far-fetched and not one person can have it all. By using “all” as the standard for success, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Just remember, the process of parenting is about progress not perfection. Now, take a moment to breathe and applaud yourself for all that you do.
For more information connect with a public health nurse in your community. Click here for a practical guide to happy parenting and a good laugh!
Visit York Region Parenting Website for more information.
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