Supermom's Kryptonite and the Mothering Games [Getting Past Perfect Book Club: Chapters 3-4]

14

Welcome to the Getting Past Perfect Book Club! We’re reading Getting Past Perfect: How to Find Joy and Grace in the Messiness of Motherhood, by Kate Wicker.

At the heart of overcoming perfectionism is not worrying about what others think of you as well as recognizing that you are good enough just the way you are…just the way God designed you to be. #GettingPastPerfect #bookclub

Take a five-minute tour of my home and a good look at me, and you’ll know I’m no perfectionist. I take pride in my work and show attention to detail, but I’m generally satisfied that my best is good enough. So, I wondered, what was in these chapters for me? Plenty.
Perfectionist or not, I’m guilty of getting caught up in my children’s successes and failures as evidence of my my mothering prowess, or lack thereof. Thankfully, I’ve had my share of humbling moments dragging boneless, screaming toddlers out of various public places to balance out those lovely Follower of Jesus awards bestowed on my little saints-in-the-making. (I also think that having a couple of children after age 40 is a natural antidote to taking anything too much to heart. At some point, the level of tiredness delivers a healthy dose of I don’t care anymore perspective.)
Kids are wildcards, and there’s a niggling fear that robs me of peace every time I hear of wayward young adults. The ones I know were raised with love, discipline, and thorough catechesis, who have rejected the values their parents tried to impart. I may be that parent one day, and I’m grateful for the reminder that these children are not mine. My daughter is not my mini-me, and my son is not an automaton. They have free will. And they have a Creator who loves them better than I do. I appreciated the comparison Kate Wicker made to God as THE perfect parent and we, His wayward children. It shines a whole new light on the extent of our earthly influence.
Despite not being a perfectionist, I want to get things right – especially with my kids. Internally at least, and especially in the early years of  motherhood, I viewed every mother’s parenting decision as silent affirmation of my choices. So while Kate recounts that unsolicited advice caused her to question her sleep parenting skills, I would’ve silently flipped that comment on its head. “Your eight-week old sleeps through the night? Why, none of my four kids slept through the night consistently until age four.” Take that – my mommy martyrdom badge AND my nighttime nurturer/attached parent/co-sleeper/all-night dairy bar award. Self-soothing for my ego but a waste of mental and emotional energy.
St. Therese Lisieux’s comparison of the variety of flowers in a garden to the world of souls is so apropos. It’s a beautiful reminder for which I need to find a crafty mom to make me a Pinterest-worthy needlepoint I can hang on my wall: “Perfection consists in doing his will, in being what he wills us to be.”

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

  1. What can you do today to respect that your children belong to God first and foremost? Let them create without your unnecessary interference? Allow them to complete chores in their own way? Permit small, amoral choices that may conflict with your own taste or style? (In other words, make room for them to create hideous art, fold towels the “wrong” way, and adopt an unflattering hairstyle.)
  2. Do you seek constant affirmation for your parenting choices? How can you affirm others’ valid choices yet be assured you’ve done your best for you and your family?

Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week’s reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.

The moment we think we’ve figured out this whole mothering thing is the moment we need to cut ourselves a whopping slice of humble pie, eat it, and try not to exercise it off, either. #GettingPastPerfect #bookclub

Next week, we’ll cover Chapter 5. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Getting Past Perfect Book Club page.

Copyright 2017 Carolyn Astfalk

Share.

About Author

Carolyn Astfalk is a wife, mother of four young children, and a writer. Her contemporary inspirational romances Stay With Me, Ornamental Graces, and Rightfully Ours are available at Amazon.com. She blogs at My Scribbler’s Heart. Visit carolynastfalk.com.

14 Comments

  1. Is it a sign of aging that I’m able to feel far less worried about judgement these days than I used to be? Now that my sons are older and fairly (although not entirely) independent, I constantly come back to the fact that the best things I can do for them are to maintain my own personal relationship with Jesus in a way that inspires them to have their own, be a constant prayer warrior for them, love and support their father with all my heart, keep an open line of communication with them, and not judge them unjustly. Do they make mistakes sometimes? Yes. Am I responsible through my actions for those mistakes (in other words did I neglect to teach them something or misinform them on something that caused the mistake?) – if the answer to that is NO then I’m learning to “Let it go” and to not judge myself or worthy what others will think. Is this easy? No. It’s still very much a work in progress. But an open line of communication feels like the surest open door to mercy and continual growth. Ramblings… sorry, but thank you Carolyn for a beautiful reflection and Kate for a lovely chapter!

      • I definitely agree. There’s no way I would have been able to write a book about letting go or not caring so much what others thought of my mothering as a new mom. I’ve definitely grown into my mothering shoes and also have spiritually matured a bit (although I have a long way to go). Thanks for the great reflection! God bless.

        • Enjoying these thoughts. I am 36 now and so much of the ideas that resonate with me I think were probably really just in the last few years. But of course, once we notice something to be more aware of, there are often multiple opportunities that arise to practice applying, rather to reverting to previous approaches.

  2. I am aware that my children are not mine and are a gift, but I struggle with thinking they are a reflection of me and my parenting. One of my favorite quotes from chapter 3 was “God is the only perfect parent there is, and let’s take a look at his children – you and imperfect me…” That was a light bulb moment for me. God isn’t sitting there anxious about what others think when His children make mistakes. “God doesn’t pay attention to the falling. He’s watching the rising”. What a relief and something I hope to be able to share with other moms in the future.

    Did anyone else struggle with the instructions at the end of chapter 3? I am on my second round of being a sahm the last 10 months and I feel like I could identify my strengths easily when I think of myself in a work setting, but struggle with it as a wife and mom. Something I plan on discussing with my husband.

    • I loved the quote about God being the only perfect parent too. It puts things in their proper perspective.

      I struggled with the reflections too! I guess I don’t really see my “mom duties” as strengths since they are necessary tasks that must be done regardless of how well I do them. I may ask my older children what they think.

    • I definitely struggle with recognizing my strengths as a wife and mom. It was so much easier when I worked outside of the home and had more bylines and pats on the back. I have found asking my husband or a close friend to tell me what they admire about me is a beautiful, eye-opening experience. We also occasionally as a family go around the dinner table and ask one another to say what they value in each other family member. It’s always amazing to hear the different perspectives of my kids depending on their ages.

      I, too, still sometimes worry that my kids’ behavior or successes or failures directly correlate with my parental aptitude. But it’s getting easier as I grow into my mothering shoes to realize that my value (as well as my kids’ value) is not linked to their behavior or my own in any given minute. We are all just trying to do our best!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for reading along! God bless!

    • The work that we put into each day as SAHM doesn’t usually yield a quantifiable product. There is no stuffed cash drawer, no quota of widgets, no body of research data that we can point to at the end of a day and say “that is the fruit of my efforts. That is what I did all day.” Our strengths, and the good results that derive from them, can be harder to recognize when there aren’t other adults around to validate our efforts. You might make a list of the strengths that you were able to easily identify in a work setting, and brainstorm ways in which you could make use of those strengths as a SAHM. For example, I was a librarian before I married. Once I had children, I joined a local La Leche League group. It just so happened that the LLL group leader had a number of books on the topic of breastfeeding, and she wanted them to be organized into a little lending library. It was a project that I could do at home, and one which made use of the skills I had acquired at the law library where I’d worked. The validation I received as a result gave me a real boost! I’d love to hear what comes of your discussion with your husband. Keep me posted 🙂

  3. So, I let my twins get pixie cuts. I love the little girl pig-tails they use to have, but one of them wanted to shave half her head! We compromised. After her sister got a pixie cut, the other twin like it so much she wanted one too! Now they look so grown up! But, as I told my husband, hair styles are not worth dictating or fighting wars over; hair can always grow back. Besides, it is somewhat liberating not to have to fight knots and tears every other morning. It is important to let our children have some control.

    • My younger daughter also wanted a pixie cut. Although I was a little sad to think of her not wearing little ponytails, I wasn’t too broken up about it, mainly because of the lack of tears, as you mentioned. And the hairstyle suits her perfectly! She gets so many compliments about her hair.

      Ask me if I feel the same way when one of them wants to add a green streak to their hair! 😉

    • Amen. I remember when I had one daughter constantly trying to style her hair perfectly, but she’s a strong-willed tomboy at heart and it was a constant battle. Last summer she didn’t brush her hair the whole week of vacation while we were in the woods of Maine. When it came time to go to church, there was a huge tangled nest. We couldn’t untangle it and I ended up having to cut it out so that she had little shoots of hair on her neck. I did explain that brushing hair regularly is just basic grooming, but I also admired the fact that the funny new style didn’t worry her about even as a 12 YO girl! I’ve also come to realize that letting my kids have some control over clothes and hairstyles (within reason) is a gift for them and is not worth fighting about. They love Jesus so who really cares if they sometimes have ragamuffin hair or wear mismatched socks outside to play?

  4. Carolyn,

    I liked your “kids are wildcards.” I have been pondering on this as I think about my own girls and reflecting on my own parents’ experiences and learning about unconditional love for them. When I feel anxiety about my girls, especially as my oldest started the adolescent phase (funny how as a teacher of adolescents I was so relaxed and really love that phase but then had a sense of anxiety as my own daughter approached it), I have been thinking about St. Monica at the suggestion of my priest. It has been helpful to give guidance but then also let go and pray.

    I loved both of these chapters. I am sure most moms can look back and laugh at one of their own instances of muffin madness. I loved her husband’s response because it was not what I expected but something that I can se as being helpful advice when we are in scenarios like that and have a chance to step back and put things in perspective. I also love Brené Brown’s books, so I was happy to revisit some of her thoughts through the chapter.

    The competition chapter also resonated as I have been thinking about that in multiple areas of life and it has made all the difference. I started with really thinking about it in the career context, but over time have recognized that once I felt released from the comparison trap in my career, it would come up in other aspects. It is a process to recognize and then reframe my thinking.

    • When I left the workforce, I was thrilled to find that I’d left behind a lot of troublesome, recurrent sins that were endemic to my job. I was free from all sorts of gossip and pettiness. And then, over time, I discovered all kinds of new temptations to sin in different ways while being home. I just traded one set of sins for another. There’s always something new to work on.

Leave A Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.