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.
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:
- 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.)
- 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.
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