Family life

I’m the imperfect parent of imperfect children

Hi, my name is Erica and I’m a perfectionist. I’m not the person that everyone looks at and says, “Wow, she’s so perfect I want to be like her…” I’m the person that keeps a mental list of the way things should be in every aspect of my life with little x’s and check marks listing my failures and accomplishments.

When I was working full-time, I convinced myself that I was doing the best thing for my family. I was convinced that Josiah was fine with me being gone from 8-5 (sometimes not getting off until 7). However, I spent much of my time feeling guilty because by the time I got home and had dinner I was basically ready for bed. Josiah used to snuggle in bed with me and watch Scooby Doo. I’d watch most of it, but end up falling asleep. Josiah got so used to me falling asleep that he’d ask me if I was planning on watching TV with him or going to sleep.perfectparent

I used to sit down and add up the hours that I was home and with Josiah and Jimmi. The time during the week that I wasn’t working and Josiah wasn’t sleeping added up to 34 hours. Out of 84 waking hours during the week I was spending less than half of it with my husband and child. That wasn’t me — not something I wanted. When I got pregnant with Samuel I knew those hours would never work. It was hard enough leaving a preschool child for that many hours during the day, I knew I’d never be able to leave a baby. That’s when I stopped working.

The funny thing is, I still count those hours. I have 84 waking hours with my kids. I spend 10 hours a week doing school work with Josiah and probably another 10-15 cleaning house and plenty of hours doing other things. There’s grocery shopping, bills to pay, and a whole bunch of other things that take up my time. In the end, I start to wonder once again if I’m spending enough time with Josiah and Samuel. Do I play with them enough? Am I too hard on them? Am I too lenient on them? Am I putting too much pressure on Josiah and his schoolwork?

These questions plague me and I spend a lot of my time feeling guilty about one thing or another. It doesn’t stop there though…I expect a lot out of my kids and Josiah has always risen to the challenge. Josiah has always tried his hardest to do his best and because of that I continue to expect more. Sometimes though I have to be reminded that he’s not even 6 yet.

I keep up with the developmental norms for Samuel and try to make sure he meets or exceeds them. I try not to pay attention to what other people’s children are doing because if there’s another child that is excelling in a particular area then I start to ask myself why he’s not doing the same thing.

I do my best not to verbalize most of these types of thoughts that run through my head and I try to avoid passing these unrealistic expectations to the kids. I do pretty well at it, but Josiah seems to have gotten the bug and is a little bit of a perfectionist himself. School gets rough sometimes because he puts too much pressure on himself. He gets nervous and anxious and starts making silly mistakes. Those silly mistakes rub my perfectionist side wrong and I have to be careful not to overreact. On days like that I try to catch it early and forget all formal lessons for the day. It’s just easier to do that than to encourage the crazy cycle of our similar natures.

I’m not a perfect parent — not even close. There’s days that I feel like I’m top notch. Then there are days when I feel like I constantly fail myself and my kids.  My kids are not perfect. They make mistakes and they grow and learn at their own pace. We’re not perfect and we never will be, but we have to strive to do our best and be joyful no matter what.

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