Progress from Perfectionism


The drive to be perfect- it’s an unwelcome quality still hanging on from my marriage. I battle this urge to aim for perfection in an attempt to extinguish the last bits of this nasty characteristic.

While my old life was a well-orchestrated, focused attempt at perfection, it is time to recognize no one, but especially a single, working mom, will ever be perfect.

The married me focused daily on being perfect. It kept a chronic disease from slipping into remission, created stress, and made me incredibly unhappy. But striving for perfection was a great diversion from what I didn’t want to face in my marriage.

The single me loves my new life. It is more complicated being a single mom, but in many ways much easier than the life I was living before the split. I am more relaxed, happier, feel more free to live my life, and I laugh daily.

The days I can embrace imperfection are my best. But too often I find myself with an unrealistic expectation of what I can accomplish or what I can comfortably handle. If I am not vigilant, the old perfection-seeking habit will creep back into my life.

Like yesterday, for example.

After someone complimented me on how well I am handling the balance of work and summer break for the kids, he received an unenthusiastic thanks for the compliment. When pressed, I explained recently I have been going to bed thinking of what more I should have accomplished, how I have fallen short that day, and trying to figure out what needs to be added to the next day as a result.

The feelings I had yesterday resulted from the frustration with all that was required to coordinate the day. A day that was busy with kids, work, grocery shopping, cleaning, a quick run, preparing to teach, and an afternoon that looked like this:

4:00- Drop Princess Daisy at tennis

4:30-Feed Monkey an early dinner and eat with him.

5:00-Pick up Princess Daisy from tennis

5:30-Drive Monkey to All-Star Baseball practice.

6:00-Hand-off Monkey to coach, who will drive him home after practice. Start drive to school.


10:45-Relieve babysitter

The critical, perfection-seeker in me wanted to focus on these thoughts as I was falling asleep last night:

  • I would have liked to spend more time hanging out with the kids earlier in the day, but I needed to work.
  • I would have enjoyed running a distance longer than three miles, but did not have the time.
  • It would have been great to finish the laundry, but it was too busy of a day.

Instead I spent time thinking about the successes of the day:

  • Princess Daisy spent the morning with her friend.
  • The kids enjoyed the pancakes I made for breakfast.
  • They had a fun afternoon at the pool with friends.
  • I squeezed in a run, which was better than not running at all.
  • The afternoon schedule was tight, but it was a success.
  • I enjoyed the students in my class last night, feeling a sense of accomplishment in helping with their pursuit of being successful bloggers.

Yesterday wasn’t perfect, but I fell asleep happy.

It’s progress.





8 responses to “Progress from Perfectionism”

  1. I loved this post!

    Progress, not perfection is a belief I’ve adopted in the past few years. This coming from a reformed perfectionist. Like you, trying to be perfect made me miserable and I got tired of being miserable.

    Today I focus on doing my best, and making the best of every day. Whatever doesn’t get done is far less important than what does get done. It’s a more productive and happier way to live!

    Have a grateful day!


    1. Naked Girl in a Dress

      As always, your comments are a wonderful addition to my blog. Thank you for leaving an encouraging comment today.

  2. Corinne

    It’s a good thing when you try to be perfect but you don’t need to feel dreadful when the job always doesn’t get done in a perfect way. It’s okay if it’s good. You are making progress. That’s the principle.

    1. Naked Girl in a Dress

      Sometimes an imperfect moment turns into a serendipitous event. I am trying to learn that too.

  3. I don’t know if this helps, but I’m married and still fall really short of perfection and spending the amount of time I wish I could with my kids. I think it’s great that you laugh more and you obviously do a lot for your kids. And here’s a confession: I have stopped washing soccer shirts and socks between practice and games. It was stressing me out to get the laundry done and they don’t sweat that much anyway.

    1. Naked Girl in a Dress

      Thanks for visiting, Elizabeth, and for the encouraging words. It’s hard to do and have it all so I am trying to scale back and simply do my best–which is definitely short of perfect! Great uniform tip, too!

  4. I love this and I’ve been in process, just learning to be okay with the days that are short of perfection. “Instead I spent time thinking about the successes of the day” — I like that! Thanks for the tip =)

    1. Naked Girl in a Dress

      Thanks so much for visiting, Sherry! I fall short daily, but try to keep the perspective throughout.