Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Knot Me...

First of all, I want to wish my mom (a.k.a. Grams) a very happy birthday. To celebrate, she and my dad came to the school and had lunch not once, not twice, but three different times with each of older kids. Okay, it wasn't necessarily to celebrate, it happened to be Grandparent's Lunch at our school this week. But it worked out nicely. :) If you count eating in a cafeteria full of children a celebration and all...

Second of all, today (I think) was Guatemala Independence Day. Apparently my little Guatemalans knew it. They were VERY independent minded. As in "I will do what I want to do today, Mom." Hopefully THEY won't be celebrating that tomorrow. :)

Okay...so I really should be going to bed. But once again, I am sitting here with my stomach in knots. I am just overly stressed right now. And I don't know how to fix it. (Yes, I know prayer will help and will do that. I just wish I had a magic pill I could take in the meantime)

I have struggled my whole life with perfectionism. I am not sure who in my family I got that from (mmm,mmm...clearing of the throat). I have always wanted to be perfect or as near to it as I can be. When I was in school, if I made a 97, I was disappointed it wasn't a 100. (And was also convinced that my teachers didn't like either) The funny thing is I know how far from perfect I am. I cannot sing. Cannot draw. Cannot play any sport of any kind with any kind of ability. I am not a leader (other than with a class full of kindergarteners). I am not a planner like my dear daughter is; I have procrastinated my whole life (part of it because I dread finding out I may not do something perfectly). I have not ever been in the popular crowd.

However, nothing in life though has shown me how very imperfect I am more than parenting (with marriage being a close second :).

As a parent, I feel like a failure each and every day. Sometimes it is what my kids do (he said what to her? or she did what at school?) that makes me question who I am and if I have a clue about what I am doing. Other times it is what I do (or don't do)...is she getting enough attention? Did I take the pacifier away too early? Did I miss an opportunity to talk with him? Did I handle that situation right? My mom told me not long ago that she thinks I think more about this stuff than most people.

The question is...how do I stop?

I have blogged before that I know that all I can do is do my best. That my children will get guidance from me (and hopefully God if they allow) but ultimately it is up to them who they become. That some things, like potty training or talking or riding a bike or reading, are dependent on the child God created them to be not my man made timetables. And even more that I cannot take credit OR blame for their successes and failures; ultimately they are in charge of the choices they make.

So easy to say those words. REALLY hard for me to truly believe them.

I am not saying I should just let my children live their lives without any input from me. I still believe that it is my job to set limits whether it is limits about behavior, limits on "screen time" (much to the big kids' chagrin), or limits on their activities. They need me to stop and say, "Hey, that wasn't the right way to handle that...you need to try again". Or "I know you are disappointed you cannot watch that show, but we do think it is not the right show for you..."

I just wish I could find the balance. I wish I could just let go more often, to not take it personally when one of my children disobeys or when the two year old decides to have a tantrum in the middle of the store (okay that doesn't really happen...he usually just screams out really loud because it sounds cool :). I wish I could focus more on the happy times, the successes...to remember the times that our youngest has his hands wrapped around me in a bear hug, when Child 3 is pumping her hands through the air and saying, "Awesome!", when Child 2 is making sweet pictures for the other teachers just because she thinks it would be nice, when Child 1 tells me the ins and outs of fifth grade as we hang out over dinner. Those times really are more abundant. Instead, it is the frustrations, the trials, the many failures on my part that loom in front of my eyes.

I don't have any answers. I wish I did. I worry about the damage I am doing to my body with the worry and stress I feel. (It seems to be worse right now than normal...praying that is short lived; the funny thing is the kids aren't really doing anything different...it is all me right now) I worry even more that I am failing even MORE as a mom by worrying about each and everything...that I am missing those golden opportunities to shine as a mom. (So yes, I am worrying about worrying :)

I really didn't write this as a plea for assurance or comments like "You're a great mom". Those are always nice to hear but like I said, these just happen to be my personal demons. It helps if I write about them, ponder them, pray over them.

I have failed yet again. I have been wrong to seek perfection. It is unattainable. As one teacher put it, it is like a slap in the face of God...He is the ONLY one who can be perfect. And of course that makes me feel worse...to know I have failed Him again and again.

Now...if He will just release me from the expectations I have for myself and my family...life would be so much easier.

Until then, I breathe in, I breathe out.



  1. The first step to recovery is admitting the problem and then saying, "Hi, I'm Reba and I'm a perfectionist." :-)

    Several years ago a mother said to me, "Our job as a parent is to provide our children with a tool box and then fill that tool box with all the tools they will need to successfully make their way through life. It's then up to our children to decide if they are going to use those tools or not."

    What I've never shared on my blog is the fact that this woman and I were sitting together in an Alanon meeting supporting each other because we both had children who had decided not to use the tools we had provided.

    I beat myself up over and over and over again for the mistakes I made as a parent. It took me many years to realize that I'm an imperfect parent, who has imperfect kids, who all live in an imperfect world. I'm a good person who is going to make bad choices sometimes. My kids are all good kids who are going to make bad choices sometimes. Accepting the consequences for those choices and learning from them is how we learn and grow. Boy have I learned and grown a lot over the years.

    I still don't like the feeling of failure, but I'm learning to embrace my failures, because they have allowed me the opportunity to make changes. Those changes are allowing me to become a better person everyday. That just can't be a bad thing in my book.

    Maybe I should be posting this on my blog.

  2. Reba, I know that you said you didn't write this blog to hear this, but I really think you are a great Mom. I am amazed as I read day-to-day of what you do. I think about you often and say to myself 'ok Reba has 4, and works during the day. Get it together!' I pick up so many tips, from reading what you write. Keep your chin up and know that even though everyday isn't rainbows and sunshine that you are making a differance.


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