Monthly Archives: January 2018

Why perfectionism will make you believe you’re never a good enough mother

Recently I spoke with a young mother who wanted to address some concerns she was having with her young children. As I listened to her detail all the issues she was having, I thought about how demanding her expectations were.

When she paused, I told her, “It seems to me that you hold yourself to a very high standard that will make it impossible to ever feel good about your parenting.”  She admitted that she’s a perfectionist.

Sometimes it’s not your children and their behavior that is the issue; it’s your unrealistic expectations of yourself.  Those high expectations can masquerade as something positive – for example, in the case of this mother, it sounded like wanting to be the very best mother possible. That sounds admirable, doesn’t it?

Right. It sounds good, but if there’s so much tension and inner pressure about it, clearly it’s not healthy.  Saying she wanted to be a good mother was just prettying up a huge sledgehammer in her mind that she was constantly using to beat herself up since she never lived up to her perfect ideal.

While some people think perfectionism is a positive quality, I couldn’t disagree more. Perfectionism is deeply damaging and it guarantees that a person will never feel enough, no matter how hard they try.

perfectionism scale

Not only does perfectionism affect you negatively, it harms your children as well, because they need to look perfect in order for you prove to yourself and the world that you’re a good enough parent. They’ll never feel good enough, either – not for you and not for them. And then they’ll internalize that perpetual inadequacy within themselves.

Parents, step back and reevaluate your expectations of yourself and your children, to have a realistic idea of what to strive for. You will probably benefit from checking in with someone from the outside who has an objective perspective.  This isn’t about lowering the bar and saying that anything goes. Not at all. It’s being nurturing and compassionate of yourself and your children to let go of unrealistic ideas that only bring feelings of pain and inadequacy to you all.

We all need to have space to just be, to move at a pace that is appropriate for us. That’s a critical component that allows the natural developmental process to unfold. We can’t move forward in a healthy way when the inner voice is a driving taskmaster, saying, “More, more, better, better, don’t stop because if you do you’ll never be good enough!”

Can you let what you've already done be enough? Or do you have to do' just one more thing' to feel you've done enough?

Can you let what you’ve already done be enough?

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating – again and again and again.

You are enough as you are right now. Really.

And when you can let yourself feel that, ironically you’ll then free up some emotional energy that can applied to being more of who you want to be – from a place of self-love, not self-shaming.





Remaking my mother-of-the-bride gown

My sister-in-law will be coming for the weddings, and very generously offered to bring me a gift. I told her that what I wanted was a sewing machine (I left mine behind along with most of our other belongings when we made aliyah since we didn’t bring a lift), and that the gift would be to bring it to me! She agreed, and I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to it!

The sewing machine isn’t here yet – I just ordered it last night – but just thinking about it got my sewing juices flowing.  We mostly have males to outfit for the weddings, which is pretty straightforward. Early on I bought the ties and bow ties for both weddings, dh got a new suit, and this week I’ll go through the younger boys wardrobes to be sure they have what they need – the clothes from ds’s wedding seven months ago should still fit them.

Then there’s the gowns. The two brides found their gowns each within a couple of weeks of their engagements (and quite miraculously neither gown needs alterations), but despite my desire to get the gowns for the sisters and mother wrapped up much earlier on, these are still very much in process.

For the first wedding, the color scheme is blue and I was fortunate to find a gown in the first place that I went.

For the second wedding, the color scheme is maroon.  I went to three different gown places and couldn’t find anything. There aren’t a lot of maroon gowns available, so finally I ordered a gown online. It was the perfect color and it had a couple of features I liked but would require a matching shell and another significant alteration (you can see the pic here). As I thought about the alterations and shell shopping, I kept thinking about adapting a gown that I bought for ds24’s wedding.

It’s a very high quality gown that I got for a great price but I purchased it before we decided on a color scheme for ds’s wedding, so the color (black and ivory) didn’t work. It’s been hanging in my closet all this time, and I thought fleetingly, what if I took apart both gowns and then put them back together, combining different elements of each….it might work.

Too much work to sew by hand, and with no machine, it wasn’t an option. But like I said, my creative juices started flowing at the thought of the sewing machine. So around 11 pm, when due to tiredness there was less well-reasoned restraint to hold me back, I started taking them apart. I intended to just start taking it apart, little by little, but the new gown was assembled in a completely different way than I had anticipated. So once I started I had to completely take it apart.

With the new gown I had just purchased now a pile of cloth – the only thing left assembled was a zipper barely connected to the original lining – and the other one partially disassembled, I mused ruefully that I might have just ruined two perfectly good gowns if my idea didn’t work out. I wouldn’t have time to re-sew either one of them before the wedding, and in any case, neither of them worked for my needs without substantial alterations and there wouldn’t be time for that by the time the sewing machine arrived.  I reassured myself that my backup plan would be to rent to a gown and if I couldn’t find a maroon gown, I’d get a neutral solid color gown instead.

At 3:45 am, I decided to call it a night, but by that point the gown was mostly finished. Yes, sewn by hand. Amazing what you can do when you’re not being interrupted by young children! I still want to do something with the sleeves but I think the gown actually looks quite nice. The bodice is black, the skirt section is maroon and overset with black lace. I don’t think anyone would guess that this wasn’t the way it looked originally.

After I finished it I thought it’s too bad I didn’t take a picture of both gowns before I started, but since I don’t have a working camera it’s not very surprising that I didn’t. :) So you’ll have to wait for the pictures from the wedding to see my handiwork.

Dd21 was very complimentary when she saw it, and since it’s for her wedding, her opinion is the one that matters the most to me.

So I can now check one more item off of my to-do list!


So much to do!

Really busy but not stressed – well, mostly not!

We have just under a month before Tehila’s wedding and then twelve days later Michal will be getting married!

A number of their friends have commented that I must be stressed out planning for two weddings so close together. No, I’m not. :)

Having said that, I’ve been conscious about creating space inside myself to keep centered. That means recognizing what is necessary and what isn’t. So even though I technically have time to write here, there’s been a longer lag than usual since I’ve been choosing to leave myself some time that isn’t filled with activity in the evenings.

It’s not just planning for the two weddings but also the time of year that it falls out that adds to the intensity of what needs to be done. Of course there’s the week of sheva brachos celebrations nightly following each wedding – I didn’t know until my son got married that it’s the sheva brachos that really wipe you out!

The second wedding will be the night before Purim; we’ll celebrate Purim, and the next day we’ll go right into the Shabbos sheva brachos we’re hosting. When people hear the specifics of the dates they look at me and ask with great intensity, “But HOW are you going to do that???”

I tell myself (and them) I’ll just keep it simple and it will all get done. That works to keep me from getting stressed about it all.

A couple of days ago, someone said to me, “All the work you’ve done on yourself for years is going to come into play right now.” She’s a life coach – can you tell? :) She’s right, though. Years ago I could have done everything that needed to be done, but not without stressing myself and everyone around me.  I wouldn’t even have had the goal that I have now, let alone the internal tools to meet that goal – to enjoy this very special season of life and to be emotionally present and relaxed.

So much to do!

So much to do!


Here’s an update on some of the non-wedding stuff I’m busy with this week:

Right now we’re working on making different school arrangements for ds15. The new program he was in hasn’t actualized in the manner it was originally described. Good people and good intentions, but different than what we signed him up for and not a match for him.

I’m starting the process of registering Rafael for a specific day care for the coming year – this day care has a special inclusion program and there’s a lot of demand for the very limited spots. I met director yesterday, got the registration form, and toured the facility. In a couple of days the evaluations and letters of recommendation I requested last week from different professionals should be ready.

If you’re wondering why I’m putting Rafael in day care since I’m home with the other kids… there are things I need to do because he’s a foster child. I was initially told he needed to start day care this past September when he was nine months but I pushed for him to be able to stay home with me for another year. My goal is to find the best option for him; I have a good feeling about this particular program and think it will be a good match for us.

Speaking of educational plans for next year, I’m also beginning the application process for Yirmi to attend a gan safa (kindergarten with a language focus) in the coming September.  Though it seems incredibly early to be thinking about next year,  it’s not! This is exactly when all the applications start to go in for the next school year. This week I’ve been working on getting his paperwork together and hope to open a file for him with the municipality this week.  I’ve been told that I’ll need to advocate strongly to get him in to a gan safa since they prefer to place children with T21 in lower functioning frameworks rather than with ‘typical’ children with language delays. But there are enough parents who have already done this that it’s not blazing a new trail to get this accommodation.

It might seem ironic or confusing that I’ve just spent all this time and energy to procure an authorization to homeschool him for the current school year and here I go turning around to get him into the school system for next year! It’s actually because of the positive experience dealing with the bureaucracy that I feel ready to deal with this gan process. Prior to this, I was concerned that if Yirmi was in gan safa (which I think he would LOVE!), I would be refused an authorization to homeschool him the following year. Now I’ve decided to take the advocacy for him one year at a time and not worry about what will happen too far down the road.

Oh – and yes, Rafael is still waking up in the middle of the night! Not loving that very much. 2 am looks much better to me when my head is undisturbed on my pillow. :) Actually, 7 am looks much better to me when my head has been undisturbed from my pillow at 2 am. :) So goes life!