It has taken me 37 years to accept that I will never be perfect. Although I don't quite remember when I started creating unrealistic expectations for myself, I am sure it was at a very young age.
I've never felt the need to compare myself to others; my worst enemy and rival was the person staring back at me in the mirror.
My house had to be spotless. My sons' had to be perfectly groomed and well-mannered in public. I aimed for a 4.0 throughout my entire college career. My hair and make-up had to be flawless. My high heels perfectly matched my purse, which perfectly matched my jewelry.
My job performance was impeccable. I never called off, unless it was a life or death situation. Many of my former colleagues were intimidated by me, as they assumed I wanted their positions. Little did they know, I only wanted the job I was hired for, which became progressively stressful once my taxing gift of perfectionism took over.
This standard of perfection only grew worse as I grew older.
I think it was those darned fairy tales that I read as a little girl that always ended 'happily ever after' that shaped my expectations for life, family and success.
I wanted to be the perfect wife. But I fall short of that mark every day. I wanted to be the perfect mom, but I am sure that I fail daily.
Thankfully, my struggle with perfection no longer has power over me.
After all, I have learned that the only benchmark I should measure myself by is with God's standard of unconditional love.
My love for my family is immeasurable, without question.
It was my lack of unconditional love for myself that kept me in a cycle of emotional fatigue and self-criticism. I needed to see myself, as I see others, through the eyes of a perfect God.
I had to teach myself how to love myself.
I can now embrace my failures. Accept my flaws. Learn from my mistakes. Admire my body. Celebrate my victories. Set realistic expectations. Know my limits. And say "no," without regret.
I no longer fear what house guests might think of me if they showed up to my home unannounced when it is less-than "Open House" ready.
I am no longer overcome with guilt if dinner is not on the perfectly-set table by 5 p.m.
I no longer entertain emotions that make me feel less-than a good mom when I occasionally work on my laptop while watching Caillou with my four-year-old.
I realize, that my ideal view of life wasn't what others imposed on me. It was my own lack of appreciation for who I was that created a fantasy of who I will never be.
I have come to recognize and accept that I will never be the crafty mom who can sew tutus and crotchet baby blankets. Or the sports mom who can yell out every play on the football field. Neither will I be the wife who is defined by women portrayed in Hollywood and romance novels.
Never again will I measure my self-worth by the impossible standard of perfection that I will never be able to attain. And I am perfectly OK with that.