Per my last post, this blog will (hopefully) be heading in a new direction for 2017 than the one it started with. And perhaps “new direction” is too dramatic a description for what’s happening here. After all, over the past two years I documented many more failures in my quest for perfection than anything else. I spent a lot of time showing how I wasn’t living up to my own expectations, and then trying to make myself feel better (or sometimes worse) about that. In that sense, my blog writing might seem to continue business as usual! The shift might be more subtle — related to my own inner dialogue about how I (re)define things like perfection, success, and failure. In the words of one wise mom:
Because my imperfection is success. I’ve successfully been a human-fucking-being. Fallible and aware. And trying.
This morning I came across a draft of a post that I started about six months ago, in which I was reflecting on the premise of this blog:
I realize fully that it does/will end up documenting many more of my “failures” in that quest than anything else; however, I never quit trying. There is a lot out there these days in the self-help genre on the idea of imperfection. This quest that I am on is the exact thing causing us strife and stress, according to most self-help authors. In fact, I was reading Brené Brown’s, The Gifts of Imperfection, while I was pregnant . The message is to start living for ourselves and not others. Great message, and I am a huge fan of Brené; however, I feel that my desire for everything to be perfect is about me and not about what other people see or think of me. At the end of the day, when I pass judgment on myself, it is all about how I am left feeling (often defeated) based on my inability to control the chaos that grows up around me. Nobody sees that or judges that but me.
I was so proud of myself for resisting the “imperfection movement” and staying dogged in my attempts to do and have it all. As I mentioned in my previous post, I didn’t think I needed Brené Brown’s insights. I was all set with that. Her work didn’t apply to me. I have to laugh now at my naivety and my ego. In my recent, more open reading of her book, I read, “I want to show the world how great I am at balancing my family and career. I want our yard to look beautiful. I want people to see us picking up our dog’s poop in biodegradable bags and think, My God! They are such outstanding citizens” (37), and I was struck with the very uncomfortable realization: me too. Me too! It is difficult to admit, but you know what they say about that shift from denial to acceptance…. And so that, to me, is the change of direction. That, to me, is what I want to make 2017 about.
Yesterday Levi turned two. It seems like I just started this blog, and yet I cannot even remember starting this blog. That is how strangely, confusingly time passes (especially in motherhood). I didn’t make cupcakes, but I made oatmeal, carrot, zucchini muffins with mini chocolate chips instead. Last night I was going to post a picture of the baking process to Instagram and stopped myself. What was I trying to do with that photo except show the world (well, my handful of IG followers) that I was pulling off my son’s birthday. I built a train table and wrapped it in a bow, worked, made dinner, AND managed to bake a healthy birthday treat from scratch. Now that is a lot to be proud of, no doubt. But I just needed to resist the impulse to show everyone how well I was pulling it off. This isn’t to say I will never again share accomplishments via social media (hell, I guess I just did it via this blog post), but I did want to take a moment to kind of cement this new (for me) way of thinking about how I want to be perceived and by whom and for what reasons.
My writing prompt this morning was to look at a family photograph and write about what you cannot see. As we well know, pictures posted to social media sites are mere representations of a selected sliver of life. Perhaps it would be helpful to all of us if we posted these pictures with a description of what cannot be seen (the baby wailing in the background, the one counter covered in egg and flour, the garbage that needs to be taken out, the depression and anxiety lurking in the heads of the photo’s subjects, etc.). I know for myself, I hope to head into 2017 keeping it more real than ever and trying so hard (oh it is SO hard) to drop/change/minimize my expectations for having/doing/being “it all.”