Recent Article Links:

Tag 'perfectionism'

Don’t Be a Martyr, Mom !!

Photo Source: Hans Vandenberg
This past weekend, I found myself watching a marathon of House reruns and was truly inspired by something that Wilson said to Cuddy in Season 5, Episode 12 (Painless). Allow me to set the scene for you…


* * * WARNING: LONG POST * * *
[ but well worth the read! ]

The hospital administrator, Cuddy, is an unmarried middle-aged career woman who has been longing to have a baby. Without a man in the picture, she has decided to adopt. By Episode 6 (Joy), arrangements have been made, expenses have been covered, stage set for a picture perfect adoption… and then the young troubled birth mother chooses to keep her baby, leaving Cuddy completely and utterly heartbroken.

Fast forward to Episode 11 (Joy to the World). After cataloging her symptoms and conducting several tests, House diagnoses a young overweight teenage girl with leukemia. Back in his office, while House shares the story of his “virgin” clinic patient, Cuddy realizes that the young girl’s symptoms are more likely the result of eclampsia, a complication of pregnancy.

The scared, guilt-ridden teenager had kept her pregnancy a secret under baggy clothes, unexpectedly given birth to a premature baby, and then abandoned the infant near a local soup kitchen. Cuddy went out to look for the body, only to find that the baby had actually survived thanks to the homeless couple who found her.

Both the teenagers and their parents decided that it was simply too painful to keep the baby, so they opted to put her up for adoption. Cuddy touched base with her lawyer, got approved to be a foster parent (who could later adopt), and took the baby home.

Finally, we get to Episode 12 (and, yes, I really do have a point to all this… ;)). Cuddy has been struggling to balance her sanity, her career, and her new baby. While she attempts to tidy up the house (and console the baby), the doorbell rings. Her caseworker has arrived early to do the mandatory foster home inspection! Cuddy is horrified!

The caseworker quickly looks around and glances into the other rooms, making notations on his clipboard. All the while, Cuddy rambles on and on, apologizing for her messy home, her busy work schedule, and her incompetence as a new mom.

The caseworker finally manages to interrupt her and says, “Dr. Cuddy, you’ve got sufficient income, a high degree of personal and professional stability, and you care enough to be embarrassed by what a mess this place is… Believe me, that puts you head and shoulders above most of the foster moms I visit.” (scary thought, isn’t it?)

As the episode ends, Wilson stops by to visit Cuddy and the new baby. Cuddy tells Wilson that she passed the home inspection but is disappointed that she failed by her own standards. Then, (this is the important part!) Wilson asks why women as a whole are always creating these ridiculous standards that no human being could possibly ever meet.

He goes on to say that any man, in the same situation, would have at least two assistants at work, a maid, a cook, a nanny, and a wife at home. Wilson tells Cuddy that she needs to be more like a man and get some help.

“Give yourself a break. You’re not Superwoman. Don’t be a martyr!”

Wow. So poignant.

Really, why is it that, as moms, we are so terribly critical of ourselves? If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you feel guilty that you should be working and contributing more to the family financially. If you’re a work-outside-the-home mom, you feel guilty that you should be at home raising your little ones. Each of us envies the other.

“I stress out over my messy house. I hate it when friends and family are ‘in the neighborhood’ and just ‘drop by’ unannounced. I never have time enough to keep the house clean. I don’t spend enough quality time with my kids. I feel like I’m letting my husband down. I wouldn’t know what to do if I had a full day all to myself. I don’t even know what I like anymore.”

“Why can’t I get the laundry folded and put away before I have to wash everything again? Why can’t I keep my cool at the library like those other moms? Why can’t my kids be mindful and well-behaved like the ones we saw at the grocery store this morning? Why can’t I just be happy with my life? There must be something wrong with me!”

OK. You get the point, I’m sure. Now, let’s look at things from another perspective. Your very best friend in the world has confided in you all her deepest insecurities. You’re going to tell her there’s something wrong with her, right? . . . Didn’t think so. Why is it, then, that we think it’s OK to say these things to ourselves? It’s NOT!

Remember, we only get to see a tiny snippet of another mom’s life. We never get to see the whole picture. Every woman feels inadequate in her mothering in one way or another, at one time or another. So, please, don’t be a martyr… recognize your own limitations and get help when and where you need it. I dare you!

And, please go easy on the other moms who cross your path each day. They’re dealing with their own insecurities. They don’t need your judgment… they need your help! So, next time you see a struggling mom, offer her a hand. I double dare you!

What are your thoughts? How have you grown to accept your shortcomings as a mom? How has your perspective changed since The Before Kids Time?

Michelle's Signature

Purposeful Parenting : My Blessed Mess

This past week was Spring Break for Scott County Schools here in Georgetown… and I found myself with quite a challenge on my hands in keeping up with Amanda! Though a bit reserved in large groups, she is very much a “people person” and loves to have one or two friends (or mommy) to play with her. Whether it was a good idea or not—along with all the art projects, playground adventures, and random errands—I planned to take a bit of time to tackle the growing pile of “to shred” documents… and this was the end result…

Shredded Paper Mess

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking “OMG!!” much like I was at the very moment that the first bag of all my hard work was completely dumped out onto the living room floor! But, here’s the thing… It is so very important for us to set aside our pragmatic “grown-up” thought patterns every once in a while and allow our children some freedom to play and explore the vast number of possibilities that abound within their limitless imaginations! Play is a child’s work after all…

Girls Playing with Shredded Paper

So, practicality and cleanliness aside, Amanda spent the week playing with shredded paper bits (aka “confetti”) that ended up strewn throughout my apartment, in every nook and cranny imaginable (i.e., the toilet… really?)! She had a blast!

Girls with Shredded Paper Hair

She made “confetti castles” (which, in case you didn’t know, are much like sand castles… only different!), she created walking paths that went from one room to the next, she raked every last shred into middle of the living room and jumped into her homemade “pile of leaves,” she “buried” every single friend who came over for a playdate, she made new fashions… and hairstyles… and draperies… and nests, and we went on countless “treasure hunts” and “rescue missions” together!

Friend Playing with Shredded Paper

Sure there was paper everywhere and I’ll likely be finding little pieces here and there over the next few months… Sure we spent the week sniffling and sneezing with all the extra shredded paper dust flying through the air… Sure I have to vacuum the floors again and empty out the drawers that were stuffed full of paper… Sure I was embarrassed each and every time an adult stopped by the apartment to drop something off or pick something up… But, man, it was so very worth it! Definitely a small price to pay for all the wonderful memories that were created this week… and an absolutely, positivity, without-a-doubt exquisite treasure to hold close to the heart and cherish forever after having endured a horrid bout of postpartum depression through her early years!

Girls Buried in Shredded Paper

Now, what about you? Have you found yourself abhorring or even thwarting your child’s messy learning adventures? How so? Or, have you managed to “let go” on occasion and have some truly uninhibited and invariably harmless fun? Do tell…

Michelle's Signature

Wednesday Wisdom : Perfectionism

Striving for perfection is the greatest stopper there is. It’s your excuse to yourself for not doing anything. Instead, strive for excellence, doing your best.

— Sir Laurence Olivier
Michelle's Signature

The Key Ingredient for Fixing What’s Broken = You !!

Ladies, why are we so broken? What consistently brings us to that all-consuming black hole of self-deprecation? How is it that we can so fervently profess the extraordinary value that lies within our closest female friends and, in the same breath, allow ourselves to be beaten utterly senseless—emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually—by everyone around us, including ourselves? How do we get to ‘that place’?

These are questions that have weighed heavily on my heart for as long as I can remember, and more recently, having publicly shared about my experience with postpartum depression, lost and then gained treasured friendships with like-minded moms of young children, unwillingly undergone increasingly challenging life changes, and watched countless episodes of ‘real’ reality shows like Hoarders, Intervention, and Snapped, my desire to find the answers has grown at an increasing rate, gaining a sense of urgency along the way.

Why do we find it such a challenge to love ourselves? And, how do we change our ways? What can we do to ensure that we treat ourselves with the love and respect we so richly deserve?

My Simple Solution: Think of my daughter. What kind of role model do I want to be for her? What beliefs do I want to instill in her about her own self-worth? My greatest desire as a mom is to teach my daughter how to be a strong, confident, self-sufficient, and kind-hearted woman. So, that is exactly the person that I must try to be.

Now, what about you? Who are you today? What lessons are you teaching those around you? Remember, you deserve nothing less than the respect and love that you would bestow upon your best friend in a heartbeat. In fact, this is the perfect moment for you to be your very own “perfectly imperfect” best friend.

How do you affirm your self-worth as a woman, a wife, a mother, and a friend? Are there times when you struggle to see your own value? What tactics do you employ to get yourself out of ‘that funk’? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Michelle's Signature

Are You “Perfectly Imperfect”?

It never fails… With little ones at home, our days quickly become a blur of chunky spit-up, toxic diapers, and never-ending sibling rivalry. Sure, “things will get easier” when the kids are older, but do they really? Every stage of development seems to bring its own challenges and frustrations to the table. Is it actually possible to “get things under control” and live a “normal, happy life”?

Well, I hate to break it to you, girlfriend, but you are already living a “normal life.” Motherhood is tough. You’ll second-guess yourself continuously. You’ll wonder whether you’ve made a mistake. You’ll believe that you’ve scarred your children for life. And you’ll be certain that the mom you see at the supermarket or the park or the library or wherever is doing a far better job than you… (never mind the fact that it is now 3 o’clock in the afternoon, she hasn’t showered since last Tuesday, and the only reason she’s finally out of the house is to get away from her over-critical-in-town-for-a-month-long-visit mother-in-law that was driving her crazy!)

It’s time to get real. Here’s the brutal honest truth…

Read Full Article

Michelle's Signature