Letting Go of Perfection by Maureen Eich VanWalleghan
I want to write a book about what I have learned from having a baby in my forties. It’s a book I want to read myself. Of course, whenever I give advice or “important tips” as I like to call it when I am teaching, it often involves things I really need to hear for myself. So here goes…this is my message to myself.
Let go of perfection…and now I will use my “out loud” voice to remind myself of this…Let go of perfection.
Perfection is a cage I find myself trapped in so much of the time. At this very moment the two bathrooms in my house need cleaning. I am having company tonight and frankly I have been lazy since Monday. That internal voice that tells me how little I got done this week is beating me up right now and if weren’t for this blog it would be winning. Truth is, I have been tired and somewhat overwhelmed by the process of having a child in kindergarten.
My daughter goes to a charter school and there are lots of activities that require family participation and volunteer hours. Not that I want to chat about that right now, but I am in the emotional place where I must decide what comes first: my work or my daughter. It’s a struggle and a balancing act. And here’s where perfection comes into play. When I hold in my mind all the things that are important to me (and by proxy, my husband) a clean house is high on the list and yet resting this week was all I could make myself do. Usually I rest by cleaning, but not this week. Literally, I have been sleeping and vegging, i.e. watching movies. As filmmaker, I try to justify this as research, but mostly I cry and I think about the movies I want to make. Not very productive.
Let go of perfection…and now I will use my “out loud” voice again to remind myself of this…Let go of perfection.
I am making a film. My short film is on the very final stages of completion. I have been working with a composer and, and, and, “look ma, no hands”…I have a film…that I will be sending out to festivals during the next two weeks. Holy sh*!@. I have made a film.
My “out loud” voice again…The only way I could have done it is by letting go of perfection, which I did. Remember?
Magic happened. Frankly, the entire year long journey of going to film school, writing, producing, shooting, editing, and everything else in the filmmaking process was about letting go of perfection. I did do it: make a film and let go.
Will I remember this week and my dirty bathrooms one year from now? Maybe…because now the Beatles are on iTunes, but in the bigger scheme of things probably not. Will I remember when I send off my first film to the Tribeca and SXSW film festivals. Yes, that I’ll remember because it will be another letting go process, but this time a letting go of outcomes. It seems that motherhood is all about letting go…of so many things. The more I practice that “letting go” in my parenting the more it carries into other areas of my life, like my work. The beauty of being a mom, now in my midlife, is that I am listening to myself. Life experience crashes into personal introspection and insight happens: I learn something that I might actually remember. And I am forced to practice it everyday with my daughter and my husband.
Let go of perfection…but I do have to clean at least the guest bathroom. Okay, just the toilet or I won’t be able to enjoy my guests for worry that they will be appalled by my lack in the feminine arts. (I’m faking the cooking with frozen spaghetti sauce…wink, wink, homemade, yes, but not today.) The rest of the kid piles around the house will just have to wait. I’ll start again next week and continue to nibble, nibble, nibble at all the things on my plate: my work, my marriage, my daughter, my housekeeping, my life. I will definitely need to make some more spaghetti sauce.
And so next week look for more on this useful tip: frozen food is a mom’s secret weapon to looking perfect…wink, wink.
Let go of perfection.
I’ll keep trying.