At the latest Slingababy CPD (Continuing Professional Development), my dear colleague Emily who runs CalmFamily and I got into a discussion about language and semantics. We were discussing how so many parents, specifically mothers in this discussion, carry the self-loaded extra weight of aiming to be perfect in every way. They want to be the perfect mothers, the perfect wives, the perfect workers, the perfect housekeepers, the perfect lovers, the perfect friends, the perfect women… They judge themselves every single minute of every single day. Their high expectations are relentless and most of the time they struggle to reach these perfect expectations dictated by a lifetime living in our marketing-based society.
The problem when you are bombarded by advertising is that it makes you believe that the white couch in the show home, with the perfectly happy smiling family of photoshopped people, is a reality for some, therefore it must be achievable. So we keep on putting on the masks, pretending that we are there most of the time and eventually we fall short of these completely unrealistic expectations. Sadly instead of looking back, laughing at the unsustainable nature of these expectations, brushing them off and carrying on, we become part of the problem as we hide what we feel are our fallings and try to glue the masks on.
I have a way of getting around this and so does Emily. Emily describes the Good Enough Mother. I describe the Perfect Human. Both of these concepts end up saying the same thing. In short: these expectations are ridiculous, what you do is just right already. The fact that you care proves that you are amazing!
As I can’t talk on behalf of Emily, I will tell you how I feel about my humanity and my fellow humans’ humanity. I, and you, are perfect. That’s it. We are perfect already. It might not look like the adverts but it doesn’t need to, because our lives don’t last 15 seconds on a screen. Life is a marathon, you need to look after your body and your mind to last till the finish line, or you run the risk of getting a shorter race or one you don’t enjoy.
Being a human requires to accept that to learn you need to run experiments and study their results, just like a scientist. Some results are positive and some, not so much. These negative results are the greatest teachers. When you are not aiming to learn but just to enjoy life, you need to balance your needs and those of people around you. You need to be. You need to feel. You need to do. You need to compare your list of goals for your existence and the list of expectations you have set for yourself.
And then you need to let go of the heavy load that you don’t need. Remember that you are a perfect human, one who is alive, one who can learn, one who can love, one who is loved. Extend your compassion to yourself, and cut yourself and others some slack. We are all trying our best with our humanity.