Kim M.

Letting Go of Perfection

A couple months after we moved into our new house, our real estate agent (who happens to be a friend of ours) stopped by to see how we were getting settled. I was at home, sick, with two little ones, and the house was a total disaster. Dishes piled in the sink, toys spread all over the living room, trash overflowing — yeah, it was really bad. It was truly one of the worst messy-house days I’ve ever had. Honestly, I should have pretended I wasn’t home.

In fact, I should have turned our friend away, said that it wasn’t a good time, but I couldn’t even think straight. I painfully invited him in for a minute to see the house. His shock and my embarrassment were so intense — it was like the uncomfortable feeling in your throat when you’re trying to suck a too-thick milkshake through a too-narrow straw. I had hoped to be showing off the fine work we had done — the hours and hours of sweat we had put into our new home, the new carpet and freshly painted walls. But no, you couldn’t even see those things through the clutter.

He stayed for about two minutes before we said an awkward goodbye and I closed the door behind him. I was humiliated and wanted to crumple to the floor. It was as if all of my mommy-self-worth hinged on this one visit, and I had failed completely.

Fast-forward a couple years later, and I experienced the same thing again, only in a totally different way. I was at our endocrinologist’s office for Kaitlyn’s quarterly type 1 diabetes appointment, and we did not have a stellar visit. To begin with, we arrived late thanks to the wonderful L.A. freeway traffic. Kaitlyn’s A1C number was up, and I had forgotten to complete her bloodwork. It gets better. I arrived totally unprepared to have her numbers reviewed by the doctor. The medical ID bracelet that we had intended for her to wear — so that we could give the impression that she dutifully wore it all the time — was left at home in the drawer (as usual).

The doctor was kind and patient as always, but in that moment, I felt like crumpling to the ground like I did the day the real estate agent came to visit. All of the good diabetes days were instantly forgotten — the diligent carb counting and the middle-of-the-night blood sugar checks didn’t matter, because in that one moment I was outed as less than perfect.

It was a few weeks later that I had to say enough was enough. Why do this to myself? Why be paranoid about being seen as a “less than amazing” mom? Why place so much value on the perceived approval of others? Part of it might be human nature, and part of it could be that we live in a culture that celebrates the ideal — especially when it comes to our family life and the care of our children. So often on social media we see perfect pictures of our perfect friends going on perfect vacations and having a perfect time. Even in my diabetes group, I see pictures of perfect blood sugar graphs and perfectly organized supply cupboards. I have to say, it gets exhausting!

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t celebrate our successes, nor strive to improve in various aspects of our lives. But, wow, it’s so refreshing to stop once in a while and see life for what it is:  wonderful, imperfect, messy, terrible, and exciting all in one! Let’s allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to be less than perfect. Mistakes are an opportunity for growth. We just have to keep pushing forward!

 

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.

 

Related topics:
Prioritizing (or, How to Scale Mount Washmore)
Answering the Question, “What Can I Do to Help?”
In the Spotlight: The Problem With Diabetes Perfectionism

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