Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Permission To Be Less than Perfect

This Christmas I did something new: I gave myself permission to be less than perfect.

Those of you who know me know how hard that was for me. After all, I'm just so darned...perfect. (cough, sputter, choke)

Fine, I'm sitting here while my tornado of a toddler destroys my house (I've just looked behind me and it's Kleenex carnage...apparently I left a Kleenex box within Stitch reach), I haven't showered in days (eeeewwww...) and the dog-hair dust bunnies are nibbling away at my toes. The dishes aren't done, the dog wants out, and Bear could probably use some breakfast. So what am I doing? While blogging, of course, because I feel compelled to share my new-found freedom from perfection with you.

Perfection, I've decided, comes in many different forms. My idea of perfection and your idea of perfection are probably pretty different. In fact, I can guarantee they are, because my standards are apparently pretty low.

Anyway, this Christmas season I gave myself permission to be less than perfect in three main areas:

Main Area #1 -- Fudge
I've always tried to bribe thank all the members of Bear's team at school at Christmas. They work really, really, really, really, really hard, so I think the least I could do is let them know how much we appreciate all their efforts. The first year, I made batch after batch of fudge, and then gave each teacher/support person a big container. Last year I decided to cut back, so they each got a small container (but really pretty!). This year, when I still hadn't made the fudge a week before the last day of school, I gave myself permission to not stress over it. If the fudge got made, it got made. If it didn't, it didn't. There's no reason why gifts of appreciation can't come after Christmas. It's not as if anyone would refuse to accept, right? The only one judging me about whether or not the fudge got made was me, so I decided to stop. I can't tell you what a relief that was.

Main Area #2 -- Work
As a freelance writer and editor, I work when the work comes in. As many freelancers can probably understand, I've basically bent over backwards for clients in the past. Need it yesterday? Sure, no problem. I'll work all weekend and neglect my family...whatever it takes to get the job done. Heaven forbid I should ever say no. Heaven forbid I should ever put my needs first. But this Christmas I said forget it. It's my turn. It's my time. Bear is off school for two weeks, so I decided to take a two-week "vacation" where I didn't do any work. Keep in mind that when you work from home like I do, you're always at the "office," so it's really easy to feel guilty about doing something for yourself. This year, however, I've put aside the guilt and I'm not allowing myself to do any more than send the occasional work email. I even told a client that I was taking two weeks off. If other people can take vacations, why can't I???

Main Area #3 -- The small stuff
I've decided that a lot of my stress is self-induced. Yup, you read it right -- I am my own worst enemy. This year I decided to stop sweating the small stuff, the stuff others most likely wouldn't care about. For example, for the past few years we've had an open house at our house on Christmas Eve. It's always a really nice time, and I really look forward to it. This year was no different, until I started to make my grocery list of the stuff I would need. As I wrote down the ingredients for the dip that is a staple at our house, I stopped. Would I really have time to make that? Probably, but at what cost? At the cost of getting stressed? Would anyone notice if the dip was absent? Probably. But would they leave? Probably not. Would it ruin their evening? Probably not. Would they judge me? Probably not. Are there good dips available at the grocery store? You bet. And so that's what went on my grocery list.

So my lesson this Christmas? It's OK to be less than perfect. We create our own expectations of "perfect" for ourselves, and then we try to live up to them. But would making fudge or dip have made me a better mother or wife or sister or daughter? Nope. Would trying to work against deadlines with two little boys at home be a good idea? Definitely not. But removing my self-imposed stress so that I could relax and enjoy my family a little more sure was.

Cause let's face it...when Momma ain't happy...ain't nobody happy. (Cause Momma gets really bitchy when she ain't happy...just ask TheODDDad.)


  1. You really should link this post to the website Just.Be. It's wonderful community where women are discovering that it's ok to Just be and not perfect.
    No I'm not affilitated with them and I haven't wrote a post to link up to them yet...but the posts that women write there are amazing.
    You really should link this one up.

  2. Great idea, Kimberly. I follow that blog, but that never occurred to me. I'll have to do that.

  3. Great read. As a mother of two and one on the way i can relate to the expectations you speak of, that we put on ourselves. Good for you to take a breath and put what matters first- Family. It made me think of my own mother and how she tells me to follow the ten ten ten rule. Will it matter in 10 minutes, 10 monthes, 10 years? I like that dont sweat the small stuff mantra, makes life a little more fun!

  4. 10-10-10 What a great rule! It makes so much sense, too. Thanks for sharing it.