Thursday, January 20, 2011

Perfect!

Ahh....two weeks into the new year, and I'm already well on my way to accomplishing every personal goal I set.  And our family goals?  Here's the thing: my personal goals and family goals are often the same.  I just want to be a better parent today than I was the day before.  So basically, every year my goal is to become the best parent I can.  As I evaluate our goals...why, yes, we are all working together in love and harmony to achieve greatness. Everyone is well adjusted and appropriately expressing feelings and concerns as we head into 2011 stronger than ever. So, far...the year is perfect.

OK, that's a lie.

I actually can't find the paper I wrote my personal goals on, and the family goals? Well, let's just say, it's a work in progress.  But the work hasn't started yet.  But it will. Soon.  I'm sure.  As soon as I find the paper.

As adoptive parents, I think we often place undue pressure on ourselves to be perfect parents.  I know I do.  I look at my children and think, "They deserve the very best."  And guess what? I'm not the very best. I'm not perfect - nor anything close.  But I do my very best.  Every single day, I wake up and try my hardest.  Some days, my best is really good. And some days....it's not.  Let's just say that there are days I lay in bed at night at marvel at the things I accomplished in the day. (OK not very often.  But maybe once or twice.) And other days, everyone is in their pajamas (even though they'd never been out of pj's for the day), in their beds (in a messy room), with a full belly (of cereal), and headed off to dreamland.  But that may have been my best for the day.


So, in my quest to be a perfect parent, guess what I'm realizing?  It's never gonna happen.  Nope.  Perfection, I've learned, is a journey - not a destination.  I take great comfort in the book, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson, PhD. There are a few paragraphs that stood out to me as we are mid way through the first month of the new year, that may help you put things into perspective, as it has me...


"I've yet to meet an absolute perfectionist whose life was filled with inner peace. The need for perfection and the desire for inner tranquility conflict with each other. Whenever we are attached to having something a certain way, better than it already is, we are, almost by definition, engaged in a losing battle. Rather than being content and grateful for what we have, we are focused on what's wrong with something and our need to fix it. When we are zeroed in on what's wrong, it implies that we are dissatisfied, discontent.

"Whether it's related to ourselves - a disorganized closet, a scratch on the car, an imperfect accomplishment, a few pounds we would like to lose - or someone else's "imperfections" - the way someone looks, behaves, our lives their life - the very act of focusing on imperfection pulls us away from our goal of being kind and gentle. This strategy has nothing to do with ceasing, to do your very best but with being overly attached and focused on what's wrong with life. It's about realizing that while there's always a better way to do something, this doesn't mean that you can't enjoy and appreciate the way things already are.

The solution here is to catch yourself when you fall into your habit of insisting that things should be other than they are. Gently remind yourself that life is okay the way it is, right now. In the absence of your judgment, everything would be fine. As you begin to eliminate your need for perfection in all areas of your life, you'll begin to discover the perfection in life itself."

So wait.  Life is ok just how it is?  It's OK to be content - even if it's not perfect?

Ahhh....sounds good to me.


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