I’m a perfectionist. Some may argue I’m high maintenance (I like things certain ways). As life has thrown me curveballs, like my infertility, I think I’ve become more relaxed about things. But sometimes my old self flairs up, the part that wants things, well, just so. Something I’ve known for a long time: I focus too much on what I think my life “should be.”
Last weekend, just before the weekend blizzard, LM got his hearing aids. I was hoping that he’d put them in and then realize all the sounds he was missing. He’d smile as he heard my voice clearly for the first time. I’d see that look of “a-ha” on his face.
Instead, he burst into tears.
The weekend was a challenge. Housebound, it seemed the perfect time to get him used to wearing his aids in a setting that was familiar. We had nowhere to go, nothing else to do. But LM did not cooperate. Although there were periods of relief in which he let us quietly read him a book, more often he was crying or clingy or pulling at his new ears.
OK, let’s try something different, I thought. Let’s go play in the snow.
This did not involve his hearing aids, which shouldn’t get wet. (This fact presents lots of logistical challenges, but I was trying not to think about those yet). For now, we’re just trying to get him used to them little by little at home.
Even without the hearing aids, though, going outside in the snow requires other demands be placed on LM. The result? He didn’t want his boots on. He didn’t want his hat on. He didn’t want his gloves on.
As I continued to struggle with him, I asked myself who I was doing this for. I wanted to play in the snow with him. I wanted to go sledding with him. I wanted to take cute pics of LM with the kiddie shovel I had bought for him, helping Foggy Daddy clear off the driveway.
But what did LM want? Was I trying to force him into my vision of the perfect snow day?
Eventually, LM agreed to keep everything on and I got him outside. And…he loved it. We went sledding in the backyard. We played in the snow. I felt vindicated — I wasn’t doing it just for me. I was doing it for him, too.
But the next day, I wanted to go out again, and LM wasn’t having it. He had spent the morning trying to rip out his hearing aids, and I just didn’t have another fight in me. So we spent a perfect sledding day, a perfect snow day, inside. I saw pictures online of my mom friends’ kids, all looking perfectly happy to be in their snow gear, and I felt sad.
But all this wasn’t just about sledding. It was that my life right now is just not that simple. Maybe no one’s is. But see other moms who have “easy” children who do whatever is asked of them. LM is just not like that.
And now besides dealing with his “difficult” personality, we have this whole other challenge heaped on us.
I’m tired of being strong. I just wanted life the way it “should be.” I thought that when we were finally able to have a baby, that was what I had waited for, and everything would be OK now. Life would settle into the well-traveled path that everyone else I knew seemed to be on. Our detour down that rough path was done.
But that’s not how things work, is it?
At least for me. Everyone else I know seems to have it so easy.
Or do they? What right do I have to assume others’ lives are perfect? Yes, it does seem like lots of other moms are happy with their obedient children, pregnant with their second baby, living in a big home, taking vacations to warm places and generally being happy. But do I really know what’s going on?
Foggy Daddy says I’m acting very “woe is me” lately. Maybe I am. Maybe I’m just dealing with the grieving process of what I thought my life was going to be like. I know this is valid. This is what parents of children with disabilities go through.
And just as LM’s personality doesn’t make it any easier to get him to wear his aids, my personality makes it harder for me to deal with the unexpected adjustments I must make. I try to be adaptable. But I still have this vision of the “perfect” life that I just can’t seem to shake.
Every time I think, if I can just get this part of my life under control, or that part, then things will be OK, I know I’m setting myself up for failure.
I have to learn to be OK with the messiness of life. Or at least with the messiness of my life. I have to stop comparing to some perfect ideal that I have in my head.
I have to learn to embrace my own version of perfect.
Are you a perfectionist? Do you have an idea of what your life should be, and does it upset you when things don’t go as planned?