I’m a perfectionist. To my parents, that has always been a quality. To me, it has been a quality until recently. Until I had to become a full-grown adult. That’s when being a perfectionist started to become less of a quality and more of a burden. As many of you perfectionists out there, you know that you always like to be in control. You have several methods for tracking your schedule, your to-do lists and every step you take is towards a goal previously defined. I have to say, for a long time, this worked for me. I was always a driven and successful student and accomplished many things that I wanted in life, thanks to this method. However, about 4 years ago, things changed. I made a decision to move across the Atlantic in order to pursue some defined goals and had a clear idea how that would happen. I was wrong. Being a perfectionist for over two decades, I was not prepared to be wrong. So, adaptation to this new lifestyle of more uncertainty and less defined plans, was (or has been) a slow and sometimes a painful process.
Historically, women have been multi-taskers. Even when being a working mother was not a concept, women were taking care of their houses, their babies, their extended families, working in their homes and the fields. We think we can do it all and many times we can (or simply have to). But, as great as this seems, there is a pressure – either from society or family or yourself (especially if you are a perfectionist) – to be able to do it all… and well!
Pressure is on for women and especially for new moms. Everyone has an opinion on what that baby needs, sometimes even before it is born! And in the midst of the noise of family members, websites and your own normal doubts and insecurities… the intuition and the baby’s voice may sometimes be hard to listen to.
I am in the field of child development and mental health. I could belong to the category of people who are in the middle of that noise and has an opinion on what can help. I will most definitely post or tweet about things that I think (and research says) are important for a healthy development. But, at the end of the day, it all comes down to two things: one, listening to your baby’s voice; and two, being good enough. Winnicott, an English psychoanalyst, once described the concept of a “good enough mother”. What does it come down to? The basics. Listening to your child, attending to their physical and emotional needs and when you fail, you try again. Babies need to feel secure. They need to know that there is someone who loves them, understands them and takes care of them. This is the foundation. This is what will allow them to blossom as those tiny feet become more and more independent and start wandering around your living rooms.
So, be good enough. As much of a paradox as it may seem, sometimes the pressure of being the best at our jobs, the best spouse, the best friend, the best parent… ends up adding to the already noisy conflict in our heads. And with all the noise, we lose sight of what is really important, of what our priorities are, and how we are already good at what we are doing. Keep it simple. Stick to the basics. Relax. Good enough ends up being better than perfect!