Friday, February 10, 2012

Making Peace With Imperfection

(Book Study:  Ten Habits of Happy Mothers by Meg Meeker - Habit #2)

I want to reflect on a comment made by one mom this week that the pressure to be perfect affects our view of motherhood.  Motherhood appears scary and difficult when we feel pressure to be perfect.  As a mother, especially with a large family and children with special needs, I experience the pressure daily, and I doubt that any mom is immune to it.  We feel pressure to be thin, beautiful, and smart, and to have children that are as well.  There is pressure to give our children every opportunity - music lessons, competitive sports, service clubs, the best schools, etc.  And the pressure starts early - every child needs preschool.  To provide a safe, loving home is just not quite enough by present standards.  So we feel pressure to meet our children’s every need or want, and when we can't, we perceive ourselves as failures.  However, this pressure doesn't come from God.  His plan for us and our children is rather simple - to know, love, and serve Him.  

Perfection affects our views of friendships as well.  The pressure to be perfect contributes to competition and jealousy when we believe that some other mother is "winning" and we are "losing".  And competition and jealousy make it very difficult to develop and maintain healthy relationships that provide balance to the difficulties that arise with parenting.  I believe that friendships are difficult because they are not only personal and intimate, but often fragile as well.  When we most need the comfort and support of other mothers, we are afraid to seek it because we don't want to appear weak.  To admit our imperfections to others is to be real and transparent.  And this transparency is essential to developing healthy relationships that can support our efforts to be the type of mothers that God wants.  Remember that it is God who created us as communal beings, and even founded one Church as an expression of our unity.  He calls us to rid ourselves of the desire for perfection so that we can develop and maintain healthy friendships.  This process begins when we identify, acknowledge, and thank God for our gifts.  Only then can we use our gifts, and discover that we are exactly who God wants us to be.   

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