How I Finally Got Off The Hamster Wheel Of Perfection

by Melissa L. Fenton
Juzant / Getty Images

There’s nothing wrong with perfection. Really, there isn’t. I mean, who doesn’t love the look of the houses on “Fixer Upper” after they’ve been redone by Joanna Gaines? That’s the best part of the show — when we get a tour of the shiny new fixtures, expertly placed frames, lamps, and rugs. Perfection is what turned a one-time small town caterer into a lifestyle mogul, a media magnate, and multi-millionaire. Does the name Martha Stewart ring a bell?

As mothers and consumers, we are target number one when it comes to selling perfection, and we’re constantly being told that having our homes, the food on our dinner tables, our kids’ birthday parties, date nights, parenting methods, and a thousand other things be and remain perfect is the only gateway to happiness.

But what all those shiny magazine spreads and scrolling Pinterest feeds fail to tell you is even one day spent in pursuit of the irrational and unattainable perfect way of parenting will slowly kill your soul.

I know this because it did mine.

I made everything perfect for years and years. And I mean EVERYTHING. I lived on a perpetual hamster wheel of believing the lie that everything in my family’s environment had to be perfect — just like on TV, in catalogs, or the way that other mother did it, or the way I thought would be the best for my children.

I spent years walking around my house and looking at things and thinking, “What if someone walked in right this very minute?” or “If I don’t bake the cake from scratch for my son’s birthday, and spend three weeks hand-making loot bags, party games, and an organic ice cream sundae bar, will anyone even remember it?”

Guess what? They don’t remember it. Not your friends, not your kids, not your spouse, nobody remembers perfect shit. However, what they do remember is what a miserable and exhausted bitch you were for weeks before the party. And the one thing that you’re going to remember is not how great the cake came out, but how much time you wasted trying to be something and someone you’re not, and never will be.

I quit making everything perfect years ago, and I never looked back. I kicked that perfection-seeking bitch right off my back, out of my subconscious, and straight out my paint chipped, scratched up, filthy door and I haven’t regretted it one single bit. I made it clear to my spouse and kids that I was done making everything perfect for them as well, and it was time to come face to face with average, and learn to embrace the suck because I was full throttle going down the lazy mother highway without looking back.

An amazing thing happens when you declare to the world (and yourself), that you’re done making everything perfect. A gradual shift in your perspective changes, and what you once thought was unacceptable, becomes desirable. As soon as below average becomes the goal, you gain an above average attitude about your life, and your parenting. Heck, even your children become less annoying because their imperfections don’t seem like failings on your part, but just the normal behavior of kids.

When average and normal become your new normal, the relief can be borderline euphoric. It’s like a giant fuck you to all the perfect shit that has been shoved into your psyche for years and years. I like to call it “pissing off perfection, one IDGAF at a time.”

There have been entire books written on how to not give a fuck anymore about things, and I can only imagine the fucks we’re supposed to give as mothers could fill up an entire bookcase of their own. But they don’t have to, because you don’t have to wait another minute (or bake another from-scratch birthday cake) to be done with perfect. Be done with it NOW. Today. DONE. Tell your family that shit just got real. Like REAL NORMAL, and then start living your average yet significantly happier life.

And no, nobody ever did come to my door all those days I made my home perfect. Dammit.