I try so hard to be everything for everyone. I never want to disappoint. Especially the kids. It breaks my heart if I ever fall short for them, so I spend a lot of time going above and beyond to proactively compensate.
The same goes for my husband. I never want him to catch me letting anything fall through the cracks. He is so impressive with what he’s accomplished with his business. He spends his entire day doing the impossible. So I want him to come home and think I’m doing the same.
I want it to seem like I have it all together, all the time.
The truth is, I’m a fucking mess. He of all people would know that. But I guess I’m still able to fool him. The truth is, I spend a lot of time sobbing into my hands or screaming into my pillow or gritting my teeth so hard I’ve had to acquire a mouth guard.
It’s not easy, man. And no one ever said it would be. But I feel like we’re not allowed to admit it. Not just to other people, but also to ourselves.
Being a parent today is really demanding. Making sure they eat. Making sure their food doesn’t have poison ingredients in it. Making sure they’re making friends, doing homework, passing tests, going to the dentist, developing on schedule, meeting project deadlines, wearing pants.
Its so much. And it never stops. There is no clocking out at the end of the day. I’m always thinking about what everyone else needs. Mentally cataloging all of their appointments, meetings, due dates, lessons, parties.
Most days, my needs don’t make it onto the list. And when they do…this happens.
I had been meaning to sign up for this birthing class for a while. But it was on Tuesday nights, which is when the boys have their music lessons. So I had to figure out a sitter. And confirm that my husband could make it home in time those nights from work.
After watching the task sit on my to-do list week after week, everyone else’s tasks being crossed off around it, I finally just signed up. I spoke to the teacher on the phone. I put it on my calendar. On the family calendar. Confirmed with the sitter. Set an alarm on my phone.
And then, whoops! The week before, our sitter had a conflict. So I had to bring in reinforcements. I secured my sister in law, rescheduled music lessons, made sure my husband would be home in time.
That night, things were going pretty smoothly. We all had dinner together, the boys were having fun with their aunt, things were moving along.
As we were on our way out, it started pouring. Like, “is there a hurricane we don’t know about” kind of pouring. So we waited a bit, but ended up driving through some pretty bad rain to try and make it to the class on time. Once we’re there, we get lost finding the room. A kind janitor finally guided us in the right direction. We walk in 10 minutes late. Wet, cold, harried. Everyone goes silent and gives us a confused look.
Turns out our class started the following week. We were in the wrong class, on the wrong day, and I have never been more embarrassed. My husband took it like a champ, laughed it off and we went on our way. I, however, became inconsolable.
This does not happen. I don’t mess this stuff up. I am hyper-organized with all of our schedules. I have everyone’s appointments and meetings and lessons all logged in chronological order in my brain at all times. I have multiple color-coded calendars filled out at once. This does not happen.
I was so embarrassed. And angry at myself. I couldn’t just laugh it off. I had wasted so much time finding a back up sitter and rescheduling music lessons and rushing my husband home from work. All for nothing.
But my husband, the saint that he is, tried to give me some perspective. He said all the right things that I was not saying to myself. He reminded me that these things happen, we make mistakes and laugh them off and move on. He told me stories of other people who had fucked up way worse. He hugged me and kissed me and made the best of the situation.
And then, on the drive home, as I continued to cry to myself in the passenger seat, he held my hand and said “Baby, you’re not perfect.”
My first reaction was rage. I didn’t have time to express it, though, because he immediately followed that statement with “I wouldn’t be with you if you were.”
And obviously that made me cry more. Because I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect. For the boys, for my husband, for everyone who needs me. But none of them are asking that of me. No one puts that expectation or pressure on me. I do it to myself.
So the lesson here is, fuck being perfect. It doesn’t exist. It’s an ideal. I think its okay to strive for it, and work toward it. Do your best to be your best. But cut yourself some fucking slack every now and then. You’ll never arrive at perfection. It’s not something to achieve. And remember, it’s a standard you’re holding yourself to.
I’m not going to stop color-coding our calendars and to-do lists. I won’t ever like it when the dirty dishes sit in the sink. I’ll continue to tout my Dynamo label maker around like a concealed weapon. But I’m hoping I’ll be able to have a bit more of a sense of humor about it all.