Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Good is good enough. Perfect is a lie.

I am posting this because I am so sick and tired of the LIE (yep, I'm calling it what it is!!) that women - particularly housewives/SAHMs like me - need to be "perfect" women.

The lie is this: Women need to have spotless homes at all times. Women need to have gourmet meals on the table everyday when their husbands get home. Women need to have children who are "seen and not heard." Women need to have children who excel at school and in extracurriculars. Women need to excel at everything domestic. Women need to be thin, beautiful, healthy, wear make-up, have nice hair and nails, cover their grey hairs, pluck their eyebrows, dress to the 9's... Women can never show their vulnerabilities or flaws - they have to hold it together.

This is what society apparently expects, because this is what every woman feels like she needs to achieve. Which is really sad because NOBODY can achieve ALL of that! Yet, a lot of women try.

I was one of them. And for a few years, I did pretty darn well. The house was spotless, my kids were well behaved, dinner was always cooked, I always looked put together, yadda yadda. I had it all. I had achieved the highest level of housewifedom.

Then, it fell apart. Some family things happened and I began to crack. I became vulnerable, but didn't want to show it, because I didn't want anyone to see that I wasn't perfect, my marriage wasn't perfect, my kids weren't perfect, my family wasn't perfect, my LIFE wasn't perfect. So I sucked it up, held it in, and allowed myself to continue to be bullied into thinking that the LIE of perfection was gospel truth. And it didn't help that people, particularly in the church I attended at the time, reinforced - through their actions, and even through their words - that lie. People I looked to for guidance and support ultimately left me only feeling more guilty for not having it all together.

I fell into a DEEP depression, one that took me years to even have the courage to deal with. My house began to get messier again. My kids began to suffer from my instability. My marriage started to suffer. And I was holding together by a thread. I eventually got help for the depression and got my life back. And only then did I realize and finally embrace the truth.

Good is good enough. Trying to be perfect almost destroyed me. When I finally got myself help, I was one step away from suicidal. (Not that I ever considered carrying it through, but I did have those thoughts a lot.) So as much as society STILL wants to tell me that good isn't good enough, and perfection is the only thing that is acceptable for a woman, I refuse to ever go back to that belief system.

Could I do more? Could I do better? Of course. But would it be good for me? Probably not. And I'm too scared to even toy with the perfection LIE again.

I worry about women who still hold on to this LIE. I worry a lot. Way too many women that I love and admire think they have to be perfect, and it makes me want to cry. My deepest fear for them is that they'll end up where I was.

Women, good is good enough! So you struggle in one area or another, maybe even half or more of the things I listed. But so what? Look at all the things you're doing right!

Using myself as an example, of the things I listed above, here's where I stand:
- I rarely have a spotless house. Its usually covered in clutter. I don't like it, but I accept it, because I am one person, and I have 3 kids, a husband, and a cat. It is what it is.
- I almost always cook dinner for the fam. Is it always ready when Jeremy gets home? Maybe half the time. Is it always gourmet? It usually tastes good and is better than most families eat, but we still eat tuna casserole a lot, and I wouldn't exactly call that glamorous.
- My kids? They're very smart, well-adjusted, and usually well-behaved. But Seth still struggles with math, they still have emotional outburts, they still argue with eachother, and the little one can scream VERY loudly in a grocery store when she's mad! They're fantastic kids, but they're far from perfect!
- I don't excel at everything domestic. I can cook and bake better than a lot of women, but as mentioned above, I'm not a great housekeeper, and don't ask me to sew anything other than a button because it will look terrible.
- Thin, beautiful, healthy, etc... I could work out more, I could stand to lose some pounds, and I need some new clothes, but I do try and look put together and not "let myself go" too much. But I also don't sweat it if I have to go without make-up or look a bit underdressed for church. I can only do what I can do given limited time and money.

I am not trying to put myself on a pedastal and say I have it all figured out. I definitely don't. But I have come to accept myself, and my capabilities, and more importantly my LIMITATIONS, and accepted that good is good enough. If one day my house looks good, and the next its a wreck, it is what it is. I was probably busy with the kids all day. I'll try again tomorrow.

Which brings me to the bigger picture. I believe that if we get too wrapped up in all the "surface" stuff, we lose sight of what is really important. If we're too focused on "looking" perfect or trying to "be" perfect, then we expend too much energy on the fluff. I'm not saying the things above aren't important, but are they as important as nurturing yourself and your family? Is having everything dusted so important that you forget to sit down and plug in to your family on an emotional, mental, and spiritual level? Is it so important you don't take breaks and run yourself ragged? Is perfect THAT important? No. Its not. Or at least not to me.

We can only do the best we can do. So, society, can you let it go? Can you go easier on women? Men, can you spend more time loving your wives than giving them long lists of an unrealistic number expectations in a given day? And women, can you please, PLEASE let go of the LIE that perfect is where you need to be, and start embracing the TRUTH that good is good enough?

1 comment:

Beth said...

I totally know where you are coming from! I used to try to live up to the standards that were in place for women long before I was ever even born and I just cant. I meet all of the standards but I most definitely do not exceed them. My house is cluttery at time and theres probably clothes on the floor somewhere but its a shirt and a pair of pants or something, nothing like our entire wardrobe! I remember teaching my oldest son, who is 15 now, that "Practice makes Good because nothing in life is perfect" and he still says that. Its true. The harder we try to be what society says we are to be, the more "me" I lose of myself. We get one life. Who cares if dinner isnt ready when my husband walks in the door? I know he doesnt.