“Why do I get so angry at the kids?” I said tearfully to my husband this past Tuesday night (shortly after writing this post). “I always thought I would be so patient. But I feel like a bitch mom.”
“You’re an amazing mother,” he replied. (I’m omitting our pet names for each other to save you from gagging.) “You’re just way too hard on yourself. I don’t think you’re actually angry at the kids… I think you’re angry at yourself. For not meeting your own impossible standards.”
And that, in a nutshell, is the conversation that helped me break out of the parenting perfectionism/anxiety trap I had been in for weeks.
Perfectionism and anxiety rob you of the present moment
hard impossible to be present, playful, and calm with two tiny tornadoes when your inner voice is always there narrating for you in the most toxic way: “You’re bad at this. You’re doing it wrong. You’re not doing enough. You’re ruining your kids. This is all your fault. Why aren’t you better at this?”
These feelings tend to sneakily build up over time, until I finally break down in tears. In those moments, I rely heavily on my husband to validate and reassure me, while calling out my inner bully.
Sometimes I just can’t do it for myself.
When I get stuck seeing the trees, my husband helps me step back and see the forest.
Perfectionism and anxiety keep you trapped in the details
I get lost in the trees, focusing on how each one isn’t perfect, and taking on all the blame and guilt for every knick and knot.
My husband can see the whole forest. He sees that our family is healthy, that our kids are happy, and that their mama is doing way better than she lets herself believe.
Our marriage is not perfect. The trees of our relationship forest have seen some shit. But when my mental health and self-esteem are on the line, there is no one else who can soothe my soul and help me silence my inner bully the way Jesse does.
To the supportive partners out there: Thank you.
I wish there were more of you in the world. Your support is a potent antidote to the toxic thoughts that run through the mind of someone who struggles with perfectionism, anxiety, and low self-esteem.