Confessions of a less-than-perfect mommy

Cross-posted at BlogHer

You have a million and one things on your plate, are feeling overwhelmed and are reaching your breaking point. Yet when someone asks you to do one more thing, take on one more responsibility, juggle one more ball, you can’t turn them down. I mean, if you say no, they might figure out you are not *gasp* perfect. But wait a second, you aren’t perfect. I’m not perfect. None of us are perfect. So why is it that so many women, moms in particular and yours truly included, feel compelled to convince the world we can do it all, seamlessly, perfectly, without missing a beat?

The problem, as I see it, in trying to be the perfect woman, perfect mom, perfect wife, perfect friend, perfect daughter, etc., is that a) it’s incredibly draining and b) it perpetuates the myth that we should be able to do it all. When we don’t admit that we falter or that we have help, we are creating this dangerously high standard that other women, other moms may try to live up to. And when they fail, as they eventually will, they may be crushed and blame themselves and wonder, “Why can’t I do it all, when Suzy Homemaker does with ease?” But does Suzy Homemaker do it with ease? Do we really know what’s going on behind closed doors?

I have a little confession to make. In the past, I attempted to be Suzy Homemaker. I tried to do it all – take care of my home, my children, and my husband, as well as write for multiple blogs including my own, and keep all of the balls up in the air. And ya know what? Little by little, things began to suffer and the balls began to fall. I wasn’t doing any of the things really well; I was just going through the motions. I could tell by Ava’s behavior that she wasn’t getting the attention she needed and deserved. I know my relationship with my husband was suffering too. And then I started having anxiety attacks. I hadn’t had these kind of attacks since my husband and I were trying, without success, for just over a year to conceive Ava. But the fact that the attacks had returned lead me to believe that something had to give. If I wasn’t going to cut back on some area of my life and reduce my stress, my health could continue to suffer.

So I quit writing for a couple of the blogs, turned down an offer to write for yet another, and the anxiety attacks went away for a while. Life was good.

Then another writing gig came up, and another and they were both so good and so worthy (as they all are), and only required one post a month, that I couldn’t turn them down. And then I decided to organize and put on a garage sale with only a week to prepare. And before that I threw a big eco-friendly birthday party for my daughter. And this and that and this and that. And guess what? I’m finding myself right back where I was before. I’m having anxiety attacks more and more frequently, yet I don’t want to give up writing. To me, writing is therapy. It’s my creative outlet and at this point in my life, I feel like I really need it to add balance to my life. Yet if my health is suffering, is it really doing me any good?

I feel like I’ve dropped the pretenses and admitted I’m not perfect. I do the best that I can, but I still beat myself up because I don’t feel like certain aspects of my life are getting the attention they deserve. I want to be a better parent. I want to be a better wife. Yet I also want to be able to write because it’s important to me.

My family and I have a two-week vacation coming up in 11 days (but who’s counting?) and I’m looking forward to it tremendously. I have plans to take a break from blogging (I’ll have guest bloggers on my personal blog every day), ignore email as much as possible (I’d stay away from my laptop completely but I don’t want to come home to thousands of unread emails in my in box – talk about anxiety!), as well as plans to laugh and love and play, play, play with my kids. I also hope to find some quiet time to reflect and meditate so that I can take a serious look at my life and decide if the direction it’s headed is where I truly want to be. And if is, what changes do I need to make so that my mind and my body can be happy without the anxiety?

So now you know my secret. I’m not perfect. What’s yours?

Related blog posts:

Perfectionist Parent
Your Mother, the Over-Achiever
Up and Down
I’ll Tell You How I Do It
Why Entrepreneurial Burnout is like that Messy Breakup with Your Ex
Is My Baby High Needs?
Working Mothers, A Delicate Balance and Working Moms: How Do You Manage Housework?