Rachael Scharrer, divorce and relationship expert and separation strategist, celebrates how perfectly imperfect we are, how we can move past our need to be perfect by embracing our limitations and teach our children that it is ok not to be perfect too.
In the wake of International Women’s Day 2019, I have been contemplating what I would like to write about. The International focus this year is on domestic violence. While this certainly requires community attention, this year, I wanted to write about competency, complacency, perfectionism, limitations and mediocrity… specifically, let’s celebrate our uniqueness and imperfections.
My two beautiful children look at me and think that I can do everything and anything that they need. As wonderful as it is to know that my children know that they can rely upon me, that I can offer them stability and security, this comes a lot of pressure. Pressure to perform, to meet work milestones, to attend school functions, to keep a home running smoothly, to put hot meals on the table, to have the time to genuinely connect with the children, to pre-empt their every need and to drive them where ever they need to be. Unfortunately, this expectation to be all and do all is unattainable and unsustainable. It is also a bar that I have created and a standard that I have unrealistically held for myself.
Many women feel that they have to be and do everything in their marriage – as if working, parenting and taking on domestic duties shouldn’t be shared with their spouse. As my marriage was falling apart, crumbling and in disarray, I felt the need to show the world that everything was fine. I knew that I couldn’t rely upon my spouse and that I could only depend upon myself. Many women, worldwide, feel these same pressures. In many homes, the domestic duty and parenting responsibility distribution is ridiculously skewed heavily towards the woman.
As a single parent, the need to be perfect and appear ‘together’ continued. I feel the need to hold it together, to put forward the appearance of being composed, to be the same as everyone else around me, to have children equipped with the same resources as their peers while carrying all of the financial, emotional, physical and mental pressures single-handedly. I wanted to ‘fly under the radar’ and avoid any judgemental onlookers and appearing perfect and sorted was my way of doing it.
Occasionally at home, I found myself saying “I can’t do everything” – I cannot do and be everything to everyone all of the time. It is exhausting giving to so many others and not having the time to give, recharge and replenish myself.
Society expects far too much from women today – to parent 24⁄7 for years on end without reprieve is a thankless and tiresome task. On top of this, we also expect her to work fulltime and parent like she wasn’t ever at work! Adding criticism and judgement to their work and parenting skills it is a role that many men gladly run away from. What’s worse is women are often the worst critic of other women!
There is a lot to be said about accepting your own limitations. Everyone has their own unique cut-off or limit. I learned that it is ok to let the ball drop every now and then. It’s alright not to have the neatest house. It’s ok to say “I can’t do everything” – more so, it is your right to say “no,” to create healthy boundaries, to push back with love and kindness and to delegate to others.
By becoming comfortable with my mediocrity and embracing my inability to be competent at everything, I am creating space for others. Space that others can step-in to help and step-up to responsibility. Humans are beings who want to be needed, who want to have a purpose and make a positive contribution to those around them. I am creating an opportunity for friends to appreciate the time that I have for them, rather than it becoming an expectation that I am always there and available when they need.
I am also conscious that it takes a family to make a mess and it takes a family to clean up the mess. Teaching my children how to tidy up, wipe down benches, vacuum, clean the bathroom and cook from a young age helps them to appreciate the time and effort that others have to go to return the home to its former organisation, to raise their awareness of their contribution towards the disorganisation and how up-keep at home isn’t a once a week job, it’s a regular everyday effort. One day, they will be better partners to their future spouses and be grateful to learn this important life lesson early.
To my children: I want you to always try your best. By trying your best, it doesn’t mean that I expect perfection. I want you to be open and vulnerable, to allow people to love, support and care for you. Equally and in return, I hope that you are able to be empathetic, supportive and take appropriate initiative while holding healthy boundaries.
Finding confidence in not being perfect, not being competent at everything I do and accepting my limitations makes me a better person, a better mother, a better business person and a better friend.