It’s Hard Out Here for a Perfectionist – Who’s Not

So I’m new here, in this town, where I live.  You know?  The move and such?  Many of my good friends have moved out of state recently or just gotten lives or something.  I’m starting to make new friends slowly.  I’ve met some amazing people whom I’m getting closer to, but friendship is largely proportional to time served.

I have not served hard time with any of these people yet and you can’t bond over one 10 minute park date.  So yesterday afternoon, some girls from my new church congregation found my address somehow and came over to say hi.

I was excited and mortified.  I was wearing my sweats and hadn’t showered.  The house was insanely disastrously filthy.  I invited them in because, for the love I want friends and here two people were on my doorstep, but I was totally chest-crushingly embarrassed at the state of my house.  It was one of those “How can people live like this?” kind of days. 

So I told them it was a “project” day.  I was making curtains and sewing Laylee a new “poof” since hers recently had a run-in with a carton of chocolate milk and a long stay in a plastic bag hidden under the stroller in the back of my car.  Color me shocked.  She didn’t like the moldy black polka dots.

Some days are for cleaning and some are for projects and, I said, “Today is a project day.”Â  They were really nice and one of their sons even peed on the wall of my bathroom to make me feel better (his mom cleaned it up, by the way.).

But when they left, I couldn’t get over my feelings of self-doubt.  Karen wrote a fabulous post recently about not conforming to other people’s expectations of what our priorities should be and not expecting them to conform to ours.  I loved it.

The problem is, I’m not even conforming to my own expectations for myself and I don’t think they’re too lofty.  Clean up the dishes at least daily.  Bathroom scrubbed once a week, laundry done before you have to go out and buy all new clothes, being at least vertical to say goodbye to Dan-O in the morning, etc. 

I had a while where I made excuses because I was in a post-partum-funk (to put it mildly) and then I had the moving excuse.  With the girls yesterday it was the “project” excuse, but at this point it boils down to priorities.

After things crashed when Magoo was born, I had to re-evaluate my perfectionist expectations, give myself some slack and be sure to take some time for me.  Now I’ve gotten high on the slack pipe one too many times and I’m having a really hard time tightening up the right garter straps.

I reorganize the pen drawer instead of putting away the junk on my counter.  I clean out the toaster, rather than rinsing the breakfast dishes.  I make a tutu to avoid hanging towel rods.  I read instead of calling up new friends.  I blog but don’t work on my book.

I feel like neither a good wife, mother, homemaker, writer, friend, organizer or Kathryn right now.  I just hate the feeling that I could do better but I’m not and I spend days like today working my absolute butt off, only to realize that each layer of work reveals 50 more that I hadn’t thought of yet.

There are many people who are frustrated with me right now and I’m at the top of the list.

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56 Responses to It’s Hard Out Here for a Perfectionist – Who’s Not

  1. I honestly was excited to see them at my door. They were out on a walk and decided to include me. I think they knew I needed them.

  2. KYouell says:

    I have a similar problem in that all I see is the overwhelming task ahead and have a very hard time breaking it down into small tasks that can be done. I’m trying the FlyLady way. I had 2 friends send it to me & it just seemed like a sign. I especially like the part about you aren’t behind, just start where you are.

  3. irene says:

    Kathryn, I used to be such a perfectionist I would be early for every appointment, and now I’m 15 minutes late 70% of the time. I know what you’re talking about. I’m continually haunted by all the things I know I should be doing but have not done, I look at the mess around me and I wonder how anybody could live with this, I feel defeated before I even start and so I don’t start. It’s really hard and I don’t have any answers, but I wanted to let you know that you are not alone.

  4. mother of the wild boys says:

    DYM, I’ve been reading your blog for a few months without ever commenting, but now I have to say something. First, you are awesome, reading your blog is part of my relax time. Second, its’ so good to hear that other people’s houses are messy and disorganized. My husband likes to joke about my paper-piles and unfinished projects, not to mention my dissappointingly unfinished to do lists. 🙂
    With 3 (wild) boys ages 5, 4, and 2, I have a few sayings that I use:
    1. A clean house is a good life wasted. (this one is a sign hanging on my front door, as a warning to potential visitors)
    2. If you are here to see me, come on in. If you are here to see my house, make an appointment.
    3. Having kids is God’s way of saying your house is too clean.
    Keep up the good work!

  5. Mary says:

    I love that you called it “project day!” Everyone has days like that, and no one wants the visiting teachers or any other person show up unexpectedly to see the house in all its glory. I would have felt totally embarrassed too. It’s hard to be in a new place, trying to make new friends, but judging on your fun and insightful blog, you will do just fine, even if your livingroom was a mess when the girls stopped by. How cool of them to just pop in!

  6. bluecrown says:

    I just heard this great piece of advise that i haven’t put into practice yet. The first thing you should do each day is get the machines working for you (i.e. dishwasher and washing machine). But i do have to say that life with little kids is just plain hard. My kids are finally a bit older and it is amazing to me the difference it makes. Two are in school all day and i am left at home with a 4 year old and so much freedom i don’t hardly know what to do with myself. it is a wonderful feeling. for every thing there is a season.

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