Guest Blog by Elizabeth Reed, a freelance writer and a resident blogger at Liveinnanny.org.
One thing I have struggled with throughout my life is the idea of being perfect. I always tried to do everything perfectly, be everything to everyone, and just have a perfect life. Unfortunately, many things in my life did not cooperate with my idea of perfection. My menstrual cycle, my fertility level, and even my age when I got married were less than perfect.
However as I have matured through these difficulties I discovered something. Something my husband really helped me with. When we first met and were dating he would always apologize to me for not being perfect.
“But you are perfect,” I would tell him, “Perfect for me!”
After a few times of saying that, and after sticking with him long enough through the hard times, he finally believed me. But I also learned to listen to myself. It wasn’t my IDEA of perfection that mattered. It was what WORKED for me.
I never imagined being as old as I was when I got married. I never imagined marrying a man like I did. But now I can’t imagine anyone else ever taking his place and I know I would not have been ready for marriage before then.
The same idea holds true for my difficulties in having children. I was always frustrated by my irregular menstrual cycles and other physical complications. However when I found out that it interfered with my ability to have children on my ‘perfect’ schedule I was livid. I had a plan to stick to and my body was not cooperating with me! How dare it?
For a long time I struggled and stressed and made myself sick over my obsession with having children. We tried everything we could afford to try to no success. Finally I gave into the idea that I may have to just adopt a baby. I was tired of trying and even more tired of failing.
I cycled into a deep depression. Everything felt hopeless to me. If I couldn’t be perfect, if my life couldn’t be perfect, than what was the point of it all? Looking back it seems overly dramatic but you can’t help feeling what you feel.
I eventually got some professional help and learned to change my thinking. By becoming aware of the negative thoughts that constantly hounded me for not being perfect I was able to replace them with reminders to keep me going. Two things really helped me a lot.
“You are loved.”
“There is nothing to fear.”
Fear of imperfection, fear of losing the love of my husband and family, fear of never having the child I dreamed of all kept me in a state of panic. During this time my menstrual cycle was more messed up than it had been since I was a teenager. However when I finally began to think in a healthy way my body began to act in a healthy way.
I am not saying that everything magically got better from one day to the next. It didn’t. It took time and many changes for things to get better in my life. But it all started with thinking healthy.
From my thoughts came actions. I let go of the frantic pace I was holding on to. I took time to do things I enjoyed rather than things to impress other people or to make my life look perfect. I rested more, laughed more, slept more.
I even started traveling and seeing new things. I did not disregard my desire for a child, that was still there, but I focused on enjoying my life as it was. I did not need to have a child to have the perfect life for me.
That’s what I really discovered. That you CAN have the perfect life. For you. It may not be the world’s version of perfection. It may even have deliberate imperfections, but if it works for you and you are living your life instead of fighting it then you are on a healthy path.
Eventually I did have a child and discovered that I was happier to have a baby now than I would have ever been if it had all been easy. If I had never had to grow up and understand that I needed to let go of my idea of perfection than I would not be able to have the life I love with my child now. I can be a better mother, a better spouse and a better friend by letting go of perfect and embracing life.
Elizabeth Reed is a freelance writer and a resident blogger at Liveinnanny.org. She particularly enjoys writing about parenting, childcare, health and wellness. In addition, she is an expert consultant on issues related to household management and kids.