I thought I was done with perfectionism- and then I became a mom.
When I began the most important undertaking of my life, everything I had learned about the pitfalls of trying to do something “perfectly” went flying out the window. Of course, perfection is an unattainable goal when you are talking about a task as complicated as mothering.
I’ve been reminded of this fact many times. And while I thought I’d accepted that I’ll never achieve motherhood perfection, I’ve realized lately that I’m still paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake.
I struggled to breastfeed my son.
I fought through scary incidents and weeks of pain while breastfeeding to continue nourishing him this way. I didn’t do this because I thought formula was the wrong way to go (I’m firmly in the “nourish any way you choose without shame” camp); my son just wouldn’t take it when I offered.
Through all my doubts, frustrations, pain and struggles, we made it to a year of breastfeeding. My mom told me that both my brother and I just lost interest in nursing after a year and I thought it might be the same for my little. But that hasn’t been the case. In so many ways, I wish it had been, because the shame-inducing truth I am struggling with at the moment is that I don’t want to breastfeed anymore.
The intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.
I guess when it comes down to it, I am scared that I am flawed because I want to wean, even though my son still wants/needs it and I’m still physically able. I’m scared that if I end that interaction because I need sleep or personal space, it will damage our relationship. And yet, I still want to do it.
Part of the security blanket I wrapped around myself to keep the new mom insecurities away early on involved always putting my son’s needs ahead of mine. Always.
But now that he is older, when my needs and his are seemingly at odds, whose wins?
Does what I need or want always have to give way to his needs and wants?
When and how do you strike the right balance of the two, knowing both are important?
And how do you take action when you aren’t sure?
In many ways, this reminds me of so many things I’ve struggled with in motherhood, where uncertainty and fear converge, where my desire to be close to my son and to teach him important lessons about life diverge. I guess I’ve got to let go of figuring out the “right way” to do things and start proceeding with hope that “right” or “wrong,” “perfect” or “flawed” my son will know how truly, deeply, and fiercely I love him.