Yesterday we were at the pool connected to our hotel. Can I just pause real quick to say being at the pool was certainly not my idea as I have never seen the point in going to a pool when you have the beautiful ocean right at outside your door? However, my little 5yr old wanted to go. And through his influence, I now see the value of it. He will swim in there, (sort of), where he won't swim in the big cold ocean.
Anyways, we were at the pool.
Brad and I had been switching off caring for Havyn, and playing with the boys. After sitting with Havyn and Paxton for a bit, I switched with Brad and went to play with Cavin in the pool.
They had been in the middle of a game that Cavin created. Games that Cavin create usually have lots of rules where he is the one in control. It's usually something to the extent of you sitting idly by while he takes over the world. I might be exaggerating that, but my point is lots of rules and lots of control.
I joined the game, and he gave me a few bits of instruction (rules). And I began to play. But I apparently wasn't ready and didn't understand the full extent of the game. So, we stop, and I tell him to explain the game one more time. And this time, I committed to listening better. We started off again, and at this point, I had Brad chiming in with the instructions of how it was supposed to go. Because apparently I was doing it incorrect AGAIN. My frustration was certainly building, and I thought to myself as I often do when playing with Cavin -"how can playing with a 5yr old be so complicated, and why does the silly kid have to always have so many rules." There have been many times in the sweet child's life that I left him to play on his own out of pure exasperation, because I simply wasn't getting his game.
Committed to learning how to play his pool game, we kept at it. Then, at one point, Cavin shouts, "Mom, you're not doing it right! You're not doing it like Daddy did".
Hmm...how many times have I thought that? Not necessarily "not doing it right" in regards to Brad, but in general to parenting. Or to any other aspect of my life. I have always battled with this voice in my head that screamed "your not doing it right". Hey, now that voice has switched to a sweet little 5yr old's voice. Yea.
In all seriousness though, if you have ever fought with perfectionism - you know what I mean. That little voice always pushing you to do more, be more, try more, work more, more, more...until there is nothing left except you in an exhausted heap on the floor.
This mentality and constant striving can negatively affect all of your relationships. I think of the one with my children. I feel often with Cavin, "I am not doing it right". He said that in relation to a silly game, but I feel it regularly. I have wondered many times why I feel that way with Cavin more than my other two.
You see, I have learned when you have a tendency towards perfectionism, to conquer the lies of "not doing it right or "not enough", you must know the ultimate source of why you think that way. Yes, temperament plays a lot into it. However, I think you will also always find reasons relating to your history, environment growing up, past experiences, etc. I have learned where mine comes from in general. And that helps tremendously. However, I realize that each specific relationship provides it's own unique sources of "not enough". For example, in my relationship with God, my lack in understanding His grace and accepting it fully created those feelings and that battle.
In my relationship with Cavin, there are many reasons. One of them being the typical feelings of inadequacy that I think most mothers face. However, one specific reason, is realizing, like Cavin, I like rules and I like control. That causes us to clash a bit. He creates these games, and many times, I want to change the rules or play them differently, because I think - "Oh, let's try this - this will be even more fun." Which, then, totally frustrates him. Cavin has his way he wants to do things, and I have mine. And when they don't meet in the middle, you get me feeling like "Mom, you're not doing it right"!
Rules are healthy and create boundaries and limits that provide safety and security. But, sometimes as parents (especially perfectionist ones), our rules can be unnecessary, silly, and even overbearing. And, we must stop and ask ourselves, am I expecting perfection out of my child as I am always expecting perfection out of me"?
I wonder how many "games" I create for him where he doesn't understand the rules and wants to change them. And then you find me saying,"Cavin, you're not doing it right!". Will he grow up striving for perfection? Maybe because his temperament lends itself to it, or maybe because his mom pushes him towards it? I hope not. And I know I can't control it completely. But I can control my choices and actions towards him. As I am always working to extend grace to myself (which for me is so so hard), I need to be always working to extend grace to my little one. A perfectionist can definitely create little perfectionists...even unintentionally with the best intentions.
Many times, most times, our issues and feelings of inadequacies with our children derive mostly from our own unhealthiness and our own "issues" as people. We all have them. We, then, carry those things into our relationships - especially our relationships with our children. This is why, I think as parents, it is so very important to invest in the time (and money) to get healthy through counseling, coaching, whatever necessary to learn more about yourself, why you think certain ways, why you respond certain ways, etc.
I have learned that "I am not doing it right" all of the time. And that is okay. I am perfectly imperfect. I am learning to be content in that. Learning to offer myself grace. Learning to improve in the areas that I should and are worth improving in, but realizing I will never get it perfect. AND THAT IS OKAY!
Anyways, I don't have all the answers. That's not what this post is for...actually not sure why I wrote it. Maybe just to encourage all of those perfectionists out there that you are not alone. And, there are ways to improve in that area, so that it doesn't hinder or affect your relationships. There is hope. God's grace covers our weaknesses. And, if we let Him, He gives us the strength to move and operate with grace in them - so we don't hurt others through them.