The Nihilism of Parental Perfectionism

As a new mother, I was especially keen on how I viewed what would make me a better mother and what wouldn’t. I was very judgmental in my views of myself. My views became so narrowed in their focus, however, that I was missing the bigger picture. In trying to live up to an unrealistic self-imposed standard, I set myself up for failure, I argued frequently with my husband and most importantly, I was not very present as a mother. 

I’ve since begun to see things differently. Perhaps post-divorce means I’ve let go of some of my over-bearing tendencies. Or perhaps I’m now able to see the forest through the trees. It’s all a work in progress.

As adults, my kids won’t care how long they were breastfeed, how long their mother made their baby food from scratch, how many times she washed their cloth diapers or how many play dates she arranged. No. I’ve decided what has mattered and what will matter most to them revolves around how present I can be for them as a mother. To hear what they’re saying and what they’re not saying when they are feeling whatever they are feeling. By being able to “be there” for them, I am also showing them how to show up for life: fully present and fully accounted for.

Yes, they do have more “screen time” than I’d like to admit. Yet there are some boundaries that I have set. I’m doing my best to keep them present, for the days of their time at home are numbered. What I want for my grandchildren are parents that can show their love by being present. As Thich Nhat Hanh has said, “The Present Moment is a gift.” In a way, I’m paying things forward.

I am grateful to have recognized this while my children are still relatively young. Sadly, this shift did not occur overnight. Yet, now that I am more aware and more present, this understanding helps me to keep my focus on what’s important: being present with my kids.  

So that also means less screen time for mama now, too. I have discovered how much I had been escaping the present via my writing, texting, blogging and time spent over the years on dating sites, and social media sites. Now when I find myself “searching” online for something, I often find what I’m seeking is a greater degree of presence in my own life. Yet, somehow I’ve feared it. By focusing on being perfect on the outside, I had been neglecting the inside. In letting go of another layer of Perfectionism, I am able to be more present and to enjoy what I have more and more.

Namaste 

14 thoughts on “The Nihilism of Parental Perfectionism

  1. “Now when I find myself “searching” online for something, I often find what I’m seeking is a greater degree of presence in my own life.”

    Love the wisdom in this. I often find myself lonelier and sadder after spending time on FB. I too would like to be more present for my family, something I’ve been thinking about recently. Thank you, Tiffany.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re very welcome! I’m grateful you’ve found this helpful!
      To extend that thought: In my experience, I find that sometimes even though I desire more intimate connections that I also fear them. Being vulnerable can bring up my stuff. So it’s easier to connect online than in person. At first this may sound sad; it is. Yet it’s also this awareness that sets me free.
      Much love!

      Like

  2. This is such a moving post! I still struggle with this, 18 months into motherhood. For me too, this has not been something that happened over night. I have had more failures than I can count, but what really resonated me was this statement “In letting go of another layer of Perfectionism, I am able to be more present and to enjoy what I have more and more.” This has been the anchor that has constantly pulled me back to center as I struggle on this journey. This spoken word poem has been hugely powerful for me to recognize my struggles for the building blocks they are. http://www.alastairmcintosh.com/articles/2006-homage.htm
    Thank you so much for you vulnerability and for sharing your truth!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mine are 9 and 5 years, and I still struggle 🙂 it seems the types of struggles shift as they age. And thank you so much for the link! It was great to read.
      Good luck with everything! Know in your heart you’re doing your best! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Being present in the midst of hard times is a struggle! But what I like here is that you have found it’s value and you share that with those of us who are also craving the same thing. Sometimes we just need to unplug and walk away. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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