Why are you trying to be perfect? To compete with other moms? To prove something to your boss? To show your husband that you can do it all? Or, is it just for yourself; to calm your own need to be perfect?
And what is “perfect”? Who defines it? Again, probably just you…
Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple examine this concept in their new book, Good Enough is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood.
The New Perfect hit home for me more than any book has in a long time (and I read a LOT!). Most personally, it reminded me that the only person who expects me to be perfect is me. “After all these years of railing against inflexible work policies, unfair division of household labor and societal pressures—admittedly very real challenges—we’re realizing that our biggest obstacle is…ourselves.” (I could quote endlessly from this text.)
But, this is not about self-blame, and it’s not about lowering your standards or crossing items off your list of goals. Becky and Hollee are quick to point out that this is not about settling. It’s about redefining your own concept of perfect, and then making the necessary adjustments to reach that place—even if those adjustments are ongoing, and that definition ever-changing.
What compounds the internal struggle are the external pressures; “perfection [has become] an addiction, motherhood a competitive sport.” But we talk about it with only a select few. We are reluctant to “talk honestly with each other about the parts of our lives that don’t work, the stuff that pushes us to the brink—and the things we’d like to change.”
The New Perfect is not about complaining or pointing out hardships either. It is about being real life working moms. The authors surveyed just under 1,000 working mothers between the ages of 28 and 43, representing nearly every US state. 100 of those were in-depth interviews. You can read many of these case studies, and see (and take) the survey within the book.
The New Perfect does not claim to have all the answers; you may not close the back cover having a new plan for perfection. But you will have a new definition of perfection, and a better understanding of life as a mom—both your life and the lives of others.
It is more thought-provoking than any other title that I’ve come across in a long time. And the questions that it asks are not easy ones. It will force you to be introspective, but will supportive in the fact that you are not alone. I urge every mom—whether you’re working in the corporate world or your own kitchen—to read Good Enough is the New Perfect.