I wanted to explain why I chose the name “IMPERFECT Mama and Therapist” to you. It might seem pretty basic. The “Mama” and “Therapist” are self explanatory. I am both of those things. I am also IMPERFECT. When I had the idea for this blog, I kept circling back to the first word. I started with “Bad” but didn’t want to use that because that didn’t capture really want I wanted it to. I asked some friends for their opinion and a lovely friend of mine suggested IMPERFECT. I knew immediately that it was exactly what I was looking for. I chose it and then moved forward without thinking about it again.
I literally just looked up the actual meaning of the word and this is what Webster had to say:
Imperfection: Fault or Blemish
Synonyms: Blight, blotch, defect, deformity, disfigurement,
excrescence, excrescency, flaw, mar, mark, pockmark, scar
OKAY… I don’t even know what some of those words mean but I have a real problem with the few that I do. I am for sure rejecting the word “defect.” THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING IMPERFECT! I suppose these words don’t fit the best when talking about a person’s actual being. We aren’t talking about a piece of clothing with a snag or hole or a toy that doesn’t work no matter how many new batteries you put in it. We are talking about real people. All kinds of people. Every person. Every person is IMPERFECT. The sooner you wrap your head around this and get comfortable in it, the sooner you will begin to actually live your life. There is no perfect Mom, Dad, worker, husband, wife, pet parent, friend, anything. We are all flawed.
A big part of my therapy practice is spent with me trying to knock this idea of perfection out of my client’s vocabulary and head. I have been a therapist for something like 12 years now and I have been seeing the most anxious children I have ever seen most recently. I work with elementary, middle and high school aged children (almost always girls) daily on learning how to understand and control their anxiety and this anxiety almost always stems from them feeling like they need to be “perfect.” WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?! Perfect in school. Straight As, all 100%s. Perfect in the eyes of their friends, peers and parents. These young children already have these narratives in their heads that if they aren’t perfect, they won’t get into college and be successful and they certainly won’t have any friends and I truly believe a lot of them feel like they won’t be loved unless they meet these unrealistic goals. I am hearing that elementary school teachers are already telling these sweet, young and naive children that they need to get better grades or they won’t get into college. It’s killing our children. It’s creating so much false anxiety (that actually feels very real to these children) just in order to try to motivate their students and children.
Let me tell you something: WE DO NOT DO BETTER WHEN WE FEEL BAD! Don’t make someone feel anxious, sad or like a failure or dissapointment and then think they are going to do better. They can’t. They won’t. It may look like they are doing what you want them to do on the outside, while they are suffering on the inside and crying in my office every week.
So, can we agree to just STOP? STOP trying to be perfect. STOP valuing being perfect over having a balanced and happy life. STOP telling your children or the children you work with that they constantly need to do better. START finding your joy. START giving you and everyone else grace and forgiveness, even if you don’t get that apology you think you need. You don’t. START valuing yourself and your needs instead of trying to please everyone else. START telling your child and the children around you that they are awesome and perfect just as they are. START showing others kindness. START now.