Late in the summer of 2011, I finally felt like I was getting a handle on life again. Divorce had thrown me way off course of the life I thought I would have, but 3-year-old Abby and I were closer than ever.
The two of us lived in an apartment complex in a mixed-use development with lots of shopping and restaurants. Every weekend we had together, we would wake up on Saturday and walk downstairs to a little tea room for breakfast and strawberry tea.
Ty and I had been dating a few months. We fell in love. HARD.
I had a new perspective on life. All that work drama that used to leave me in tears and seem so very important? I realized it wasn’t so important after all.
For the first time in a very long time, I was happy.
People tell me stories about the “old Kelly” and the “new Kelly.” The old Kelly would look at you like you were a dumbass, they said. She was kinda…mean.
The new Kelly let things roll off better. She smiled more. She was more fun to be around.
But I just had one problem.
The part of my soul that woke me up in the middle of the night, with entire novel plots in my head begging to be written down, was nowhere to be found.
At that time, I had a well-established blog where I wrote book reviews of young adult fiction.
But I had stopped reading, and so I stopped writing on my book blog too. I hadn’t written for almost a year.
And then one day, as I was driving to Abby’s preschool to pick her up, something smacked me right across the face so hard I couldn’t ignore it.
The old Kelly was a perfectionist, through and through. Nothing was ever quite good enough for her high expectations. She worked too much and felt guilty for not being a perfect mother.
This new Kelly, though, she was learning.
Learning to say no.
Learning to laugh it off.
Learning what was really important in life.
So that day I was driving to Abby’s preschool and something happened I couldn’t ignore?
I realized I needed to write again. I needed to talk about what I was learning.
Striving for perfect is no way to live.
And I needed a way to encourage myself to KEEP learning that lesson, over and over. Because a lifetime of perfectionism is hard to undo.
A name popped into my head: “The Reformed Idealist Mom.”
I pulled over and wrote that name down in my phone.
My head buzzed with ideas. I felt fully alive again.
When we got home that night, I pulled up my laptop and bought idealistmom.com.
And I went to bed dreaming of writing again.
And Then I Woke Up
That morning, my head buzzed in an entirely different way.
Who would even read my blog? There’s a million blogs out there, I thought.
Who am I to talk about parenting? I’m just ONE parent of ONE toddler.
I haven’t written in forever. I’ll suck at it.
I’m so busy. When would I even find the time to write again?
That voice in my head kept picking away at the idea until I didn’t have a shred of confidence left.
And I forgot about writing again.
One Year Later…
Ty and I had just bought a house. I was newly pregnant with Bailey.
Our happiness was pretty disgusting.
One night, we were on the couch together, surfing the Internet in unison.
I checked my email.
A notification that idealistmom.com was due to renew, or it would expire.
I laughed out loud.
“What?” Ty asked.
“Just a stupid idea I had for a web site.”
“Tell me about it,” he said.
I rambled on about old Kelly and new Kelly, about perfectionism, about lightening up.
And even though I made close to zero sense, he closed his computer and watched and listened.
When I finally shut up, he said, “You should do it.”
I rolled my eyes. “Who am I to talk about that stuff?”
“You’re a mom dealing with the same things a lot of other moms deal with.”
“I guess…” I shrugged and went back to email.
But Ty had gone and done something very annoying. He planted the tiniest little seed of courage.
Except I was the opposite of the boy in The Carrot Seed. Instead of me believing and everyone else doubting, Ty was the one giving me encouragement.
“Have you thought any more about getting your blog up and running?” he’d ask.
After a tough parenting day: “You could write a post about that.”
Or after I’d forward him a blog post to read from someone else: “You could do that. I can see you doing that.”
Over the next couple months, that little seed grew. Until finally, one day a post idea popped up, right out of the blue. Not just a post idea, but also the undeniable urge to sit down and write it RIGHT NOW.
So I did.
Curing Perfectionism: What You Need to Know
That first post was 7 Ways to Stop Your Kid From Whining. It’s turned out to be one of my most popular posts of all time.
This post, the one you’re reading now, is post number 100.
I’ve learned a lot in the almost two years since I sat down to write that first post and the 99 that followed it.
Above all, this is what I’ve learned: I am not alone.
And you aren’t either.
It’s too easy as a parent to fall into the trap of perfectionism. No, wait. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of perfectionism, PERIOD. Parent or no parent.
But trying to be perfect all the time can get in the way of not only your happiness, but your partner’s happiness and your kids’ happiness too.
As I get ready to transition from having a corporate desk job to being a full-time blogger, my goal is to explore with you how we can keep that brat Perfection at bay so we can be as happy as we want to be. As we deserve to be.
A song’s been playing on the radio lately that I’m just eating up: Flaws by Bastille.
“You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve
And I have always buried them deep beneath the ground
Dig them up; let’s finish what we’ve started
Dig them up, so nothing’s left unturned
All of your flaws and all of my flaws,
When they have been exhumed
We’ll see that we need them to be who we are
Without them we’d be doomed”
Let’s dig up those flaws, y’all. They’re beautiful, and so are we.
Top 5 Posts of All Time
Round numbers are fun! After 100 posts, I was curious what my top 5 most popular posts of all-time were. Check it out:
- 9 Ways to Get Your Dog Ready to Meet Your New Baby
- 12 Signs That You’re in Love – A Letter to My Daughter
- 7 Ways to Stop Your Kid From Whining
- A Quick Fix for a Pouting Kid
- How to Handle Your Kid’s Temper Tantrums Like a Ninja Mom
Feature photo by Michael McCarthy.
Download my FREE cheat sheet: 16 Miracle Phrases to Help You Reconnect With Your Child
For practical tools to keep your perfectionism in check, read 6 Must-Haves for the Super Organized, Type-A Perfectionist.
Tell me about a flaw you’re thankful for. Share yours in a comment below!