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.