“It doesn’t have to be perfect. Today it just needs to get done well enough.” I’ll tell you that this concept is hard for me to wrap my head around. I’m a driver and doer by nature and I set extremely high accountability measures for myself. I am aware of what society believes I am required to accomplish as a “successful working mommy” but I also have to admit that these expectations are not always realistic for me. The funny thing is, I still strive for the grand idea of being everything to everyone. I’m constantly reaching for that illusion of a perfect woman acting as a loving wife, super mommy, top-notch employee, good friend, participatory family member, and engaged citizen with a happy family, spotless home, successful career, accolades, strong network, and plenty of resources. In both conscious and unconscious efforts, I’ve set myself up for heartache with my idea of what my flawless existence should look like.
As I chase that ideal life, I’ve spent much of my time competing, proving, and conquering which can be exhausting. At times, this has served me well and at others it has not. I’m currently in the middle of a major life transition and I’m out ahead of that driver this time. After working in the same position for the past eight and a half years, I have accepted a new advancement role.
I can’t help reflecting on the time I’ve spent in my current position. I am a far cry from the 24-year-old who started this journey and it feels strange, exciting and right to close this chapter. Over the recent past years I have purchased my first home, held my dad’s hand for the last time, earned a master’s degree, gotten engaged then married, and became a mommy for the first time. It’s safe to say that some of my most defining moments have taken place during my tenure in this career and with this major life transition, there is a great deal of emotion swirling in my soul. Saying goodbye is never easy, although I’d like to think I have become graceful at doing so. Change can be incredibly stressful but I’ve done a good job of remembering the reward and opportunity that comes with it. I am navigating an internal tug of war where anguish is pulling at exuberance and fear is contending with aspiration.
Along with this reflecting, and true to my nature, I have also placed incredibly high expectations on myself during this transition time. Not only do I expect high performance and incredible stamina, I also expect perfection. This is a dangerous mixture and even more unrealistic when I project these demands onto my loved ones. My husband and I have talked about the stress that will come home with me at the end of the day. To add to it, I tend to look for perfection everywhere from the food our son has eaten, to the cleanliness of his hopefully matching clothes and his mood. I want laundry done, the house to be clean, and time for family and friends. How, though, can all of this happen without damaging relationships and a magic wand? Realistically in my world, it can’t.
I plunged into this transition with the same full speed ahead attitude and drive that has always been innate for me. For the first time in my life, though, I’ve been able to recognize these qualities and traits as they are coming on and creating stress. I have learned through enough failure, hurt feelings and heartache that sometimes things just need to get done well enough. As much as I’d like to execute everything in a perfect and precise way, I’ve had to come to terms with the limits of being human and I’ve been able to re-write my own definition of success. I also now realize that I am the only one who really expects me to be perfect; it is only a personal demand I put on myself and not an external one being cast on me. I know that life won’t look totally ideal while processing through this change and I am working to find my grace and acceptance.
So, for today, if I have to pick between cleaning and reading to my son, I’ll pick up the book. The laundry can wait if my husband wants to visit after a long day and I will choose a gathering with my girlfriends over a manicure. I can guarantee that my home is well lived in and not always organized. Our paperwork stacks up and there are unfinished projects all around. I’m not always flawlessly groomed and our son won’t always give a smiling pose to commemorate our trip to the zoo. My husband and I don’t always agree and our extended family isn’t always appreciative of our choices. However, I have a thriving career; blissful toddler; loving husband; incredible support system; and beautiful life. They all aren’t perfect all of the time, but, “it doesn’t have to be perfect. Today it just needs to get done well enough,” and that is my truth.
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