Letting Go Of Perfection And Embracing Self-Compassion And Authenticity In Our Parenting


Letting Go Of Perfection And Embracing Self-Compassion And Authenticity In Our ParentingJust a couple of weeks ago, hardly into the new year and right in the midst of dreams and aspirations for ideals and what a new year might hold, I had a parenting moment that left me mortified. A sweet family and friend of one of my children had intentionally set up a playdate, inviting our child over for one of the last days of our break. I was traveling back from a belated Christmas celebration when the invitation came via text, and I answered quickly, saying yes, of course, my child would like to come. 

A couple of days later the day of the playdate had come, and I was transitioning back to work after a long holiday weekend and feeling that difficult pull of navigating work and presence with counseling and coaching clients and navigating logistics with my dear children not being in school. 

I dropped my child off that morning, waving at one parent as I drove off and headed into my work day, confident that all was well.

Hours later, I returned to pick my child up and realized with utter shock that I had brought my child a DAY early to this play date. The family had simply graciously received my child and folded her into the plans for their own children, while they also were balancing needing to work that day. They knew I was working and felt it best to just go with it, so they practiced some flexibility and grace.

With all that our minds hold on a daily basis as we go about caring for children and seek to take care of ourselves, our homes, our work, and animals or plants if you have them, it’s no wonder that any of us might make a mistake, get confused, and mix things up. Of course, in this case, I never went back to the text, I just remembered incorrectly it having said a day that was not the day of the actual invitation. We were out of our normal routine, and in some ways each day was running together with the kids being out of school. 

Can anyone else relate to something like this — whether it’s similar or a different story altogether — but a dynamic that left you feeling exposed, vulnerable, and very humble? In an age where images abound around us, through social media, Pinterest, and various websites, it’s easy to feel like we fall short of perfection all the time. Yet, perfection is not real. It is not the gold standard of what we “should” be. There’s a better way.

It’s natural to experience embarrassment and even shame, and it’s easy to beat ourselves up when anything along these lines happens, yet self-compassion is a much softer path. It’s one that acknowledges the mistake, but that gives grace towards ourselves. We can always strengthen our systems next time, write things down, and set up reminders, yet the reality is that no one is perfect, and aspiring to be perfect all the time is utterly exhausting. Instead, we can be real and authentic and own our imperfections. 

Self-compassion is easier to embrace when others in your life speak to you with compassion. These friends approached me with this grace instead of, ”How could you? We told you the correct day. You need to get more organized, etc.” If self-compassion is hard for you, then think about someone in your life who speaks to you kindly, and seek to treat yourself that same way. It takes a lot of practice, but it’s a muscle you can strengthen with some intentionality.

If you are interested in reading more about self-compassion, be sure to read here and here.


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