LOSING MY PERFECTION
Each morning she would casually rise from a peaceful 8-hour slumber and hop-skip-jump into the shower with cheerful grace. Time was no dictator; minutes upon minutes stretched out in unending convenience as she leisurely and uninterruptedly shaved her already-smooth legs and generally enjoyed having no place to be immediately required. Makeup on, hair washed, bed expertly made, decorative cushions garnishing a styled finish, and a freshly curated soundtrack setting some serious chill vibes -- every morning was a dream.
The beach, across the road! Leaping out the door with all the sass of a Beyonce film clip, freshly washed curls bobbing with youthful bliss, her coffee money jingled in her pocket as she happily chit-chatted with the barista fashioning a heavenly flat white. Sun on skin, work still a good two hours in the future, she embraced serious ritual and freedom. The world was a fluffy cushion of all things pleasing and comfortable. She was joyfully at home in her aesthetically blessed environment -- life was good!
Fast forward three years, and what’s changed? Well, nothing really. Unless you count the miniature shadow that demands attention during every single sacred shower moment, the tiny tornado of emotion who can shift gears from pure devastation to unfounded ecstasy in milliseconds, the creature observing each and every movement, word and reaction of its mother…
This tiny human that has completely and utterly undone me with a Love so fierce that it has changed everything in me, around me and before me. I admit it -- everything has changed.
I’m mostly preaching to the choir when I state the obvious here: motherhood is a hurricane of shock, love, joy, denial, thankfulness, hysteria, doubt, intuition... and spiky legs. I mean, a wave of euphoria swept over my husband and I as we lovingly pondered the perfect name for the babe brewing in my growing moon belly. It was the loveliest moment when we landed on ‘Peaches’ for our baby girl, and to level out the sweet with some spunk, prophetically coined her middle name ‘Wilde’. But, just as she was Wilde by name, my life quickly became wild by nature -- I was unconsciously framing the next season of my life. Peaches and cream, it was not. Rather, I was walking into a cyclone armed with my head in the clouds and a pocket full of sweet naivety.
The cyclone didn’t hit until 6 weeks after our little one was born. In the immediate days following childbirth, I was in a state of euphoric bliss, enjoying the endorphins pulsing through my body as visitors brought flowers, gifts and boxes upon boxes of peaches to the door of our tiny one-bedroom. Spirits were high, smiles and niceties abounded, I was feeling the love...and then suddenly, I wasn’t. That is, I was on cloud-nine until I ran headfirst into an old frenemy and accomplice, Perfectionism.
You never really know the measure of your flaws and insecurities, or how deep their little roots are planted, until they are challenged. For me, motherhood and all its out-of-body epiphanies drove my perfectionist self into chaos and confusion. The character trait that had once spurred me to create and excel in my younger years was all of a sudden condemning me, guilting me, overwhelming me and controlling me. One day I would feel the incessant need to bridle anything and everything around me, playing the role of wife, mother, friend, homemaker, creative, juggler and jack-of-all-trades; the next, I would dream of ditching the bra, unleashing the hair, raising the white flag and running into freedom with my hands in the air to the soundtrack of my life.
I chose the latter. I decided to surrender.
Not just to my unwavering desire that all the cushions be straight and in a row. I decided to surrender my mindset, let the chips fall, learn to embrace my imperfections, allow room for chaos and learn that the spontaneity of this little human was good for my soul. Her beautiful, messy, sporadic character was necessary for the un-doing of me needing to have everything in its place to feel that sense of safety. It was bloody hard. But I made the decision.
I have learned that motherhood is a curious paradox. It feels at once as though you are wearing your very soul, your insecurities and your deepest fears in miniature human form -- your little baby! At the same time, you feel empowered, strong, invincible, bold and courageous. This love a mother feels for her cub is dramatically incomparable. The deepest level of love is realised in us the moment we conceive and nurture our children; yet the same can be said of the second birth of our insecurities -- often the very ones we have worked so hard in our past to overcome. We can sometimes feel an incredibly strong pressure to cover the feelings of confusion and discomfort, to appease an unspoken expectation, and act as though everything is always dandy and amazing. Truthfully, I have always found that human love is vulnerable, it is fragile, it is ugly, and it is beautiful. And entirely worth it.
Am I still a perfectionist? To a degree, yes! My closest girlfriends gape and marvel at how tidy I keep our little beachside abode. I both want and need this decluttered refuge to do my job as a designer, and my husband happily carries a deeper love for vacuuming than I ever will, so our home is a beautiful, clear space. Perfection is a noble goal but an unattainable one; I’m learning that if I would strive for anything, it should be excellence, because that word compels me to be great without so desperately requiring it to form my identity. It’s a cliche, but life is truly about balance. Sensitivity is beautiful and vulnerable, but destructive when it is self-indulgent -- same goes with any trait we carry. That said, I still often catch myself straightening frames and repositioning jars on shelves, and I laugh at my ordered nature. The fact is -- I am faced with choices everyday, to discover the freedom of not needing every single thing to be perfect, and to choose to let many things slide! It’s liberating, and it is something truly precious that motherhood has taught me. I have learnt to give myself a bloody break, and smell the roses. You really should too, you perfectly imperfect goddess!
EDITED: By Jenny Webb
PHOTO: Documented by The Honest Jones our recent US adventure.