"I thought something magical would happen the first time all my kids went off to school," writes Kat of InspiredToAction.com. "Something magical involving rainbows, unicorns and little elves that would keep my toilets clean, bake cookies, stay on top of school activities and help manage ALL. THE. PAPERS. ... But it’s been a whole week and a half into the school year and there are still dirty dishes in my sink, processed food in my pantry, and a pile of papers on my desk."
Can you relate?
Kat describes how, as she was at the grocery store buying things to pack in her kids' lunches, she began to compare herself to her "fictional perfect mom self" and feel guilty -- guilty for not baking fresh bread, guilty for not packing healthy enough lunches, guilty of not measuring up to what she thought she should be. But right then and there, she told herself: "I don't need to be THE best, I just need to be MY best."
She goes on: "The most freeing thing I've done in a long time is to make a conscious choice to only compare myself to myself and not to that mean girl perfect mom voice that always talks down to me. I like to think of David and Goliath. Being a perfect mom seems overwhelming and unconquerable. And, frankly, in my own strength it is. But God is my perfection. My job is to follow Him, trust Him, and give Him all of me. When I do, He never leaves me as I am. He changes me, molds me and makes me more like Him. He helps boys slay giants and regular moms, like me, shatter the mirage of the perfect mom. Progress, not perfection, mamas."
If you've ever wondered if you're doing the whole "parenting thing" correctly, you're not alone. In a Crosswalk.com article titled "Fear or Failure in Parenting," Jennifer Maggio writes, "My fear was that I would not be good enough, or even worse, that my children would not be good enough!" But, Jennifer says: "For all the unnecessary worrying I have done about my parenting skills (or lack thereof), I have learned an important lesson that I want to share with you. God gave you those precious angels, because you, through his strength, are well-equipped to handle each obstacle that will arise. You are the perfect person to navigate the sometimes murky waters of parenting for your child. You have been divinely appointed to impart wisdom into her life, teach her, and watch her grow into the lovely young woman she will one day become. ... Freedom in parenting comes when we realize that most of our what-ifs are unfounded fears that immobilize us from doing an effective parenting job."
In another Crosswalk.com article called "The Perfection Trap," Cortni Marrazzo writes: "God doesn't expect us to do everything perfectly! What He does expect is that we rely on Him for the strength to do what He has called us to do." She lists three ways to deal with the increasing daily demands while time and energy seem to slip away: 1) Recognize the difference between "YOUR best" and "THE best"; 2) Choose joy and peace, despite imperfections and unfinished tasks; and 3) Keep aiming for improvement. "I know it's tempting to want to have it all together and to have a system or a schedule or just have things under control," Cortni writes. "But if that were actually possible, we would miss the opportunities to come to the end of ourselves and run to God because we simply don't know how we are going to do it without Him. It is in those moments of surrender that we realize what is really important and we see just how wonderful and faithful our God is and it is in those moments that we feel God's overwhelming love and strength fill our souls. And no perfectly cooked dinner could ever surpass that."
How can you fight the "perfection trap" in your own life and in your own responsibilities today?
Anna Kuta is the editor of ReligionToday.com.