Perfection

There’s this idea floating out there that simultaneously perplexes me and irritates the hell out of me. It’s this notion of being the perfect whatever – perfect mother, perfect body, perfect spouse (puke), perfect employee. Perfection.

What does that mean?

And what happens when you are perfect?

And who decides what makes you perfect?

With motherhood, is it being happy and patient with your children, always having cleverly planned activities for them balanced with developmental playtime at home? Is it also balancing your career and your house and your marriage while being a superb mother? Is it also having a great body and perfectly coiffed hair and outfits whenever you step out of your home?

Give me a freaking break.

Seriously – it’s the same as striving to be some kind of supermom. Or super-employee. Or model like body.

Why do people hold themselves up to this unattainable and absurd standard all the time? Why do I constantly hear people talking about it? What does any of it prove? Are people really so insecure that somehow they believe that if they attain this definition of perfection, then their life will somehow improve?

And why does it irritate me so? I mean, I am dramatically rolling my eyes and throwing up in my mouth whenever I hear someone say it – whether it’s some naive preggo who has no idea what kind of mack truck is going to hit them when the baby arrives or some annoying parent or some dumb TV anchor doing another feature on supermoms.

I think it annoys me because it’s a waste of time and emotion.
But the truth is, we all hold ourselves up against someone for some reason. We might not admit it, but I’m pretty sure we do – even if we know it’s silly – we are still doing it. Even if we’re not even striving for perfection. Sometimes I might just be striving to get out the door with brushed teeth.

Usually, I think this happens because someone in our circle of friends has achieved a milestone in their life that we haven’t but very much want too – whether that be career accomplishments, marriage, the birth of a child, buying a new home. Maybe for some it’s even buying a vacation home.

Last week, I read a column in the Washington Post by Carolyn Hax about this very topic. I really recommend everyone read it. The basic idea being that someone was dining with friends, all of whom are married, all the wives pregnant, and everyone seemingly successful professionally.

On the surface, it seems like this group of friends have all achieved perfection and oddly, at the same time in their lives.

Meanwhile the person writing in is single, not happy in her career and battling depression. She was looking for advice on how to not seem like a basket case in comparison. Carolyn’s response was brilliant, in my view, because she really pointed out the perspective that life is a long, windy road with many ups and downs, and what this person was getting at the dinner was a snapshot in time of those people’s lives.

This really struck a chord with me.

It’s very easy to make assumptions when all you have is a snapshot – the whole picture is never quite what it seems.

It was a healthy dose of “grass is always greener” perspective. I urge you to read it. Even if I am a week late in writing about it.

2 Responses to Perfection
  1. Sassy Asti
    August 5, 2009 | 1:58 pm

    I do like Carolyn’s response. Also I just came across this book yesterday, from Lee Woodruff entitled Perfectly Imperfect.

    http://leewoodruff.com/imperfect.php

    Rather than trying to be perfect, perfectly imperfect sounds good to me!

  2. treemachine
    August 6, 2009 | 5:24 am

    great post!
    no matter what you do – in regards to family, to business, to social life – there will always be someone bigger and better than you.
    everyone just needs to relax and realize that the antiquated phrase “life is a journey” really holds true – gawd! i sound like my mother

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