I’ve always been something of a perfectionist. I grew up the oldest of three children in a somewhat dysfunctional household, so a lot of responsibility fell on me.
Though I didn’t always love shouldering the burden of so much added responsibility, keeping things neat and orderly came naturally to me.
Our house would never have been clean but for my constant efforts, and my siblings probably would have gotten away with a lot more shenanigans had I not been there spying and tattling like it was my job.
My perfectionist tendencies went beyond environmental factors, however. In the words of the great Lady Gaga, I was born this way, baby.
During school breaks, my favorite way to entertain myself was by redecorating my room. When a middle school teacher would assign ten journal entries, I’d write forty.
While this didn’t make for a super fun kid, it did serve me well as a responsible adult, and, eventually, as a doting mom.
You know how people wonder who those freaks are who can wash, dry, and fold multiple loads of laundry in one sitting? Or who those weirdos are with the Instagram perfect living rooms that surely can’t be real? Well, I am one of those freaks and weirdos. Or, at least I was until I became pregnant with twins last year.
With my first son, I was able to remain a perfectionist throughout most of my pregnancy and new motherhood. Sure, I slacked here and there at times, but in general, I was still able to stay on top of things.
My house was always perfect. I’d watch HGTV, and I could never understand why people would need help staging their homes. I didn’t judge them. I just didn’t get it. My house always looked like it was ready for some open house that didn’t exist.
I also didn’t understand how piles of laundry could be left unfolded for days at a time. Again, I didn’t judge. I just didn’t understand.
Being a perfectionist is not about judging others. Being a perfectionist is about judging yourself and holding yourself to your own exacting standards.
I didn’t judge moms who did things differently. Still don’t. I just lived my life in my own weirdly organized way. And I had fun doing it.
Then—THEN. Then, I got pregnant with my twins. From early on, I knew something was different about this pregnancy. Whereas I was more or less able to function (with the help of medicine) during the terrible all day sickness I had with my son, this time, I felt like I was dying.
Whereas we waited until we were safely in the second trimester to share our pregnancy news with our first, we had to tell our mothers early in the first trimester with the twins because I needed help during the day with my son.
I couldn’t handle any of my remote work projects. Even picking up my phone required too much effort.
At seven weeks pregnant, I texted my sister and told her I felt like I was dying.
Full days went by where I would lie in bed unable to eat or even open my eyes. It was a struggle to have even a spoonful of Jell-O every few hours.
Whereas with my first pregnancy, I still managed to drive to work (even though I’d regularly puke on the way there), this time, I couldn’t trust myself behind the wheel because I was too weak and disoriented.
Then at eight weeks we found out we were having twins and it all made sense.
Mercifully, somehow, the sickness lifted even sooner than it did with my son, but my pregnancy never got easier. I never had the second trimester burst of energy that I got with my singleton. All the aches and pains of pregnancy hit early and hit hard.
By twenty-two weeks, I was in physical therapy and felt physically worse than I had when I was full-term with my son. It never got easier. And a LOT fell by the wayside.
My husband, of course, did his share around the house, but with me out of commission to help, things piled up. Suddenly, I was the person with a huge pile of unfolded laundry. Toys somehow made their way from the family room to our nice living room. Dust collected on picture frames.
I couldn’t take my son to all the fun activities we had previously participated in. We temporarily said goodbye to story time, gymnastics, soccer, and our educational classes at the zoo.
We added a lot more screen time during the day. Our daily meals went from Pinterest-inspired to whatever could be heated in the microwave.
I was too big, too exhausted, and in too much pain to do more.
Like any true perfectionist, I hated having to relax my standards. I continued to try and keep up. I really did. But, in the end, I had to make peace with “less than perfect”—and it was a good thing I did because life with three kids does not leave much room for perfection.
However, the wildest thing about all this? I’ve never been happier. I am certain that I would have been completely shell-shocked by life with twins had I not been forced to struggle during my pregnancy for nine months.
Having such a long, tedious introduction to being “less than perfect” made transitioning to life with multiples much simpler.
I can’t lie and say that I’m completely reformed. (See above re: born this way.) Since recovering from pregnancy and delivery, I’ve been able to start re-organizing our home and our life in the way that I like.
We’ve started going to activities again. I cook actual meals instead of ordering non-stop takeout, and one day recently, I even managed to wash, dry, and fold laundry in the same day.
But, I know my life will never again be perfectly organized, and that’s OK. My twin pregnancy taught me to expect and embrace the unexpected, and sometimes embracing the unexpected means being OK with being less than perfect.