I am often asked how I juggle motherhood with being creative and running my own business. My answer is: I gave up perfectionism. And I stopped searching for balance in my life a long time ago. Instead, I am looking for fulfillment!
What does perfectionism and balance mean anyway?
There is no right or wrong answer? There are only stories to tell
Perfectionism – what is it? According to the Cambridge dictionary, it is the wish for everything to be correct or perfect. But who defines what “perfect” is? What does a perfect house look like? What does it mean to be a perfect family or a perfect woman?
We all know what society says about these things, but have you actually tried finding a definition for yourself? And do you know that there is no right or wrong answer? There are only stories to tell. Every day, the world tells you its own story about motherhood, womanhood, and the perfect family. But what is your story about it?
Priorities in life shift and nothing is written in stone
The other night, my daughter wanted to cuddle on the couch right after dinner. I looked at the dinner table and the dirty dishes in the sink, then I looked at her baby soft face and full cheeks… Oh screw you, perfectionism, can I instead have some cuddle time?
I curled up with her on the sofa and kept thinking… What kind of a role model am I? How can I teach my girl to trust her own decision-making; to listen to her own wisdom; to recognise her needs, her dreams, her fears? How do I show her to live by her own rules; to choose to be human rather than perfect? Because perfectionism doesn’t leave you room for progress and growth. Because perfectionism feels like you’ve arrived. Sometimes I think perfectionism must have been invented only to make people feel guilt and shame about who they are and how they do things in life. And the same goes with balance!
What is balance? I guess it is not about either/or; it is about having it all – but does that mean at all times? Always being there for your kids, having the perfect family, and being successful in your career? That’s not balance, that’s being superhuman.
Thinking of my own life, I am not always at my kids’ soccer games, I don’t always find time to cuddle with them… and I am not always home to read them a bedtime story! Sometimes I leave the house before they even get up and sometimes we order pizza in. But that’s because I choose to invest more time and energy in my work, which is very meaningful to me. There are days when my brain and my creative thinking kick in full-swing. I feel like different forces have taken over my life completely, but I also know deep down it is OK to let Daddy or Grandma take over with the kids. It is OK to have help and it feels good to get excited about something other than Peppa Pig’s next adventure trip.
Being cool about switching gears in my life – or, let me use another metaphor – switching cars (we’ve got a big family car and then my Mini Cooper, which reminds me of a completely different lifestyle), hasn’t always been the case. It took me some time till I figured out my own life rules and started living by those rules. The more I have been scrutinised and judged by friends and fellow mamas for what I do, the more I have grown resistant, confident, and smart about how I want to organise my time and what kind of lifestyle I choose.
Fulfilment is in knowing that you wouldn’t have it any other way
I have also learned to trust my own experience and instincts when it comes to what needs my attention the most. I know myself well enough to understand what I cannot compromise in my life. What I think we don’t realise is that each one of us has different values, and being tolerant to other people’s priorities will make us much more understanding, kind, and non-judgmental. Priorities in life shift and nothing is written in stone. We are not 20 years old any more. We know well enough what we thought of marriage and kids when we were young and how that changed during the years of experience we’ve had, right?!
What’s important to remember is that priorities change, and there are days when your kids really need you and there are days when your work or your relationship require extra attention. What’s also important is to accept that fact that you, yourself can be your own priority as well from time to time! The thing is that you are given the capacity and unique insight to feel that, and you will always know where to give your attention. People and life are not static things, and knowing what’s right for you and your life at the moment are within your own understanding! Never doubt that each of us is fully capable of being the “master of your destiny and the captain of your soul”. This is not a privilege; it is a daily choice you make! And that is exactly where your fulfillment will come from: the fact that you know yourself and keep learning from your unique experiences and the accumulated wisdom of your ancestors.
Fulfilment is in knowing that you wouldn’t have it any other way; that you love looking after your children and raising them exactly as you want to. At the same time, you find meaning in whatever is meaningful to you and get the intellectual or creative stimulation you need without any guilt or shame, without having to trade or negotiate. Does that sound any good to you? Leave your comments and let me know what you think and what solution have you found fro yourself?