Saturday, August 30, 2008

Battling Perfectionism

Is there anybody else out there battling perfectionism? Perfectionism has dogged me all my life. Now that I have lived with it for more than forty years it is probably one of the most important elements of my personality to let wither and die. From where did it come? I really don't know. It has been with me forever like the mole on my neck. It is there, along with fear, in some of my earliest memories. There I was in modern dance class for tots, petrified that my turn was coming to move across the floor...down, down, up, up, down, down, up, up...Was I going to go up at the time to go down??? Or worse, would I trip and stumble? Nothing else has limited me more, or more often, than the fear of screwing up. Nothing else has so often kept me from even trying.

Sure, perfectionism can help with some things. I have a really great looking college transcript that nobody ever sees and has not improved my quality of life one iota. Yes, I am possibly a more well rounded person than I would have been without doing well in college though as the years go by and the student loans are still not paid I am less and less sure of this. I missed out on a lot of real life to work those grades. I became obsessed with getting it all right on exams with content irelevent to my life today. Perhaps perfectionism would have been just the thing if I had pursued certain careers. Air traffic controller maybe? Or surgeon? Olympic diver? I do wonder about that. But those paths are not mine.

Today the perfectionism takes on other non academic flavors. As a mother it is part of the job description that there is no way to be perfect yet my desire to be "perfect" is still there. This fact has led me to try to do my very best all the time. The problem with this is that living this way is utterly exhausting. Like running an endless marathon. For me, living with perfectionism is unworkable and unsustainable and a really, really bad example for my kids. It also keeps me from being truly present with them. From being real with them. Trying to be perfect has become an imperfect choice. Perfection has ceased to have meaningful meaning in my life.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Adam's Raccoon

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project from Hand-Print Animal Art by Carolyn Carreiro

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Homeschooling is Messy

Maybe I'm just getting old. Or maybe my hormones are shifting! Maybe all the years of wiping (hands, floors, bottoms) have just caught up with me. Lately, as much as I hate to admit it, I struggle with the mess.

One of the biggest challenges I have here at Green Hill Homeschool is messes. Goopy art supplies. Papers and projects and eraser crumbles spread across the table, paint drips leading to and from the bathroom sink, black fingerprint dust from the cool forensic science kit on my pretty, white table. Wire cutters, duct tape and all the paper airplanes that did not fly that well. Thirty foot straw tunnels that go from room to room. Legos. All that stuff. This is not an issue confined to homeschooling families like ours of course. The difference is that with homeschooling the home tends to be more fully utilized more often and for more hours than it would be if the kids went off to school all day. Sure we go out for groups and classes as the vast majority of homeschooling families do. Opportunities for socialization are abundant. But the center of our lives is our home and it and the dining room table get a lot of hard use!

The funny thing is I used to feel pretty darned proud of myself for all the crafty stuff I did with the kids. Now I am overwhelmed by the desire to maintain a clean, organized, low clutter home that helps bring me a sense of peace and, yes, control. Sometimes I notice that I feel negative about even beginning any messy project that the kids propose. Not good. I know I need to attend to my mess aversion or this desire for control will hamper learning and creative opportunities for my kids. Truth is, I really do not know how to resolve this without living with some level of discomfort. Maybe it is like having a trick knee but playing tennis anyway.

I suspect I will deal with mess aversion as I might handle a challenging yoga posture. I will try very hard to remember to breathe into the discomfort,to not freak out,to notice the tight places and try to remember what this is all about. I will trust that practicing the posture brings a bit more flexibility to my life and my personality. My kids challenge me every day to become a better, more fully rounded human being. Life is just messy sometimes.


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