Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker

Letting Go of Perfect

This past couple of weeks have been big ones for my family, and for me as a mother. My oldest daughter became a teenager, embarking on a course that she’s already begun toward independence, but it feels more official with this birthday. And today my middle daughter begins her middle school career.

Like most mothers, as I watch my children grow up, I am filled with such bittersweet feelings. I remember the first moments of their lives so vividly. Their early childhood is etched into my memory and my heart. It’s so difficult, even painful in some ways, to see those moments, those stages slipping away.

And yet…the joy of watching my children becoming young women of strength and purpose is breathtaking. I’ve worked with adolescents for many years, and, to be honest, when my children were young I kind of dreaded this stage. Would they be moody and mean? Would they become unrecognizable? Now that I’m the parent of early adolescents, I am growing to love this stage. The joy that comes with their growth as human beings, with watching them learn to stand up for themselves and what they believe in, with seeing them learn to be good friends to others and to themselves, with their discovery of strengths and talents, is truly beautiful.

As we enter this new phase of life, these are the messages I hope to share with my children:

  • When I look at you, I see the beauty of your unique, individual spirit. My hope is that you learn to see it too. I hope that instead of trying to be just like everyone else, though I know you will sometimes want to, that you’ll learn to be just like you, amazing, one of a kind you.
  • You are not perfect. You are incredibly, beautifully, imperfect. You’re teeth or nose may not be straight, your hair may not do what you want it to, your body may bigger or smaller, taller or shorter, this-er or that-er than you want it to be. You may struggle with math or running fast or being quiet in class. But perfection is unattainable, and even a little boring, to be honest. Instead of being perfect, I hope you will keep learning about being perfectly you.
  • You have something that nobody else has. You are perfectly perfect at being yourself. My hope is that you will learn to love yourself just for who you are. That you will grow to love yourself, for both your strengths and your weakness. That you will figure out that even in the places you are weak, you have something to offer this world.
  • You amaze me. As I watch you struggle with challenges both big and small, your courage inspires me. As you try to fit in, to stand out, to figure out who you are and how you want to express that to the world, I am awed by the incredible beauty of who you are and who you are becoming. You are so much more than how you look, what size of clothes you wear, and who likes or doesn’t like you. You, my brilliant, shining child, you are one a million.
  • Let go of perfect. Perfect never got me anywhere, but learning to be fully myself, to embrace my strengths, that’s brought me satisfaction and joy. Let go of perfect, and embrace your true, beautiful individuality. Then you’ll learn to love yourself just as I love you, for being perfectly you.
  • As you grow to love yourself for who you are, I hope you’ll extend the same grace to others. Your friends, your teachers, even your mom will let you down. We’ll say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing, but remember that we’re perfectly imperfect too. And as we grow to love one another for who we are, there we’ll all be, letting go of perfect, and learning how to fully live.
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10 comments on “Letting Go of Perfect

  1. Beth Wade
    August 27, 2012

    Your comments are as perfectly presented as humanly possible in my perfectly imperfect opinion. Thanks for taking time to share in words what so many of us only think. My heart strings were touched today by your expression of the beauty of becoming and loving the individual unique being each of us is!

  2. Shelly Kramer
    August 27, 2012

    This? Perfect in every way. And as the mother of four daughters, something I will immediately send to them. As Beth mentioned above, my heartstrings were touched by this thing of beauty.

    Thank you!

    Shelly
    @shellykramer

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      August 27, 2012

      Thanks so much, Shelly. That makes me smile!

  3. Holly
    August 28, 2012

    Hi Jennifer!! Nominating you for a little blogging award today, check out the details at my blog. You don’t have to participate but I hope a few of my readers wander your way…Love the commitment you have to our girls too!

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      August 28, 2012

      Thanks, Holly, that means a lot to me. I appreciate you!

  4. wendyblume
    August 28, 2012

    I’m bookmarking this post (and sharing with my network). My daughter is 8 in a couple of weeks and if I can remember to pass on even half of these messages over the next few years, I’ll be doing well!

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      August 28, 2012

      Thanks, Wendy, that means a lot to me. You might like the post I wrote when my youngest turned 8. It’s called Remember This:8 things I want to tell my 8 year old daughter.

      • wendyblume
        August 29, 2012

        I’ll check it out – thanks!

  5. Kerry McGann
    August 29, 2012

    Absolutely perfect. I love your posts…soooo need to tune in more often. I am printing this now to put in a special place and share with Keira in a few years. I can already see that struggle to fit in starting to surface. Ugh! Also going to find the 8 things… Thank you so much for your words of wisdom and for making me pause for a minute and think about parenting with a purpose. I need a little Dr. Shewmaker on my shoulder during the day :) xoxo

  6. naomi@thekidscoach.org.uk
    September 4, 2012

    Wonderful advice Jennifer. They do need to get rid of perfect and just be who they are. We need to get rid of perfect too – and let them fly

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