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Letting Go of Perfection

May 5, 2010

By Erika Weisensee,
Milwaukie mom and writing instructor,

I am far from “Mrs. Perfect,” though at times, I admit, I try too hard to be her. SHE is that pulled-together looking woman whose house is clean, who excels in home and work activities, who exercises regularly and makes time for friends, who cooks delicious meals from scratch and does it all with a smile. Reality check: Yesterday, we ate take out for lunch AND dinner, I haven’t worked out in more than a week, and my house, inside and out, needs some serious TLC.

Certainly, striving to do your best is a worthy and honorable goal. But, doing one’s best is different than being obsessed with perfection. While perfectionists are usually high achievers, they can be burdened by their desire for perfection. They beat themselves up when they make mistakes, they constantly compare themselves to others, and they may also be unfairly critical of others. A lot of people (women especially it seems) feel pressure to be perfect. In our quest to be perfect and to do it all, we forget to enjoy the moment.

As the mom of a young child, I’ve learned a lot these past three years. One of the most important lessons, I think, has been accepting that I cannot do it all. Because I have less time for everything, I’ve learned to focus on what matters most. Yesterday, I may not have cooked much or worked out or cleaned the house, but I spent a lot of quality time with Owen. We played with cars and trains. We went for a walk. We read books. Yes, it was a perfect day.

### Erika Weisensee, a writer and native Oregonian, lives in Milwaukie and teaches journalism and communication courses at the University of Portland.

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Discuss this article

Windsong May 5, 2010

I like the idea that if you give your best, you have indeed done a perfect job. Who can give more than their best?

Mom1 May 5, 2010

Well said,

Please email this around soon so moms can see this just in time for Mother’s Day.

Julie May 5, 2010

Spending time with our kids is more valuable than our culture gives it. Parents always look back and wish they spent more time with their children and less time at work. Your boss does not have your best interest in mind when he/she says you should work more or overtime. People need to reflect on these things.

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