Like many parents, I’ve spent the past decade or so striving to be “the best parent I could be”. Sounds noble, (and harmless) enough, right? I mean of course we want to be the best we can for our children! But often we slide over into a dangerous arena; one where we’re trying to be perfect. And this perfectionism is not only unobtainable, but it robs of us so much joy in the process. Slowly but surely, over the past few years, I’ve been learning how to embrace imperfect parenting. And let me tell you, it’s brought so much more joy and humanity to my family.
Look, truth be told, I’m a recovering perfectionist.
I’ve spent so much of my life striving to be better and do more, while on a constant path of self-improvement.
And sadly, there have been SO many times when perfectionism has held me back. Afraid of presenting anything less than what I considered perfect left me unwilling to present anything at all.
What a shame.
And I KNOW I’m not alone in this!
In fact, can you relate?
So much of our lives are consumed with a relentless quest for perfection.
Obtaining more. Searching. Striving. Achieving.
Of course, it doesn’t help that we live in a world where most of us are bombarded with photo-shopped, air-brushed, filter-refined images on a daily basis.
The message is clear:
The weight given to awards, accolades, and achievements reiterates the desire to impress those around us.
The importance of obtaining tons of social media followers, likes, and positive comments leave us feeling like life is no more than a giant popularity contest.
Perfect, perfect, perfect.
But of course perfection is simply an illusion.
Deep down, we KNOW this, and yet we continue grasping for perfection in order to feel accepted, applauded, admired, and loved.
This constant search for perfection leads us straight into stress, anxiety, jealousy, loneliness, and exhaustion.
When I became a parent, I brought my perfectionist tendencies with me.
I mean, it makes sense given I wanted the absolute best for my child.
Don’t we all!?!
But perfectionism kept me from being able to fully appreciate each moment as it unfolded. I spent so much time analyzing what I could be doing “better” that the beauty of what was unfolding before me was often lost.
Being a perfectionist also left me unable to practice flexibility when life threw me curveballs. I was more rigid and less creative than I wanted to be, simply because I was clinging to perfectionism.
As the years have gone by, I’ve realized just how much beauty is found in imperfection.
And this goes for imperfect parenting too.
Because perfect parenting is also just an illusion.
I won’t pretend that this is easy. And I can’t say that I don’t sometimes slip into old perfectionist tendencies. But as I continue practicing acceptance, gratitude, and mindfulness, I appreciate the imperfections in my parenting more and more.
It’s an ever-evolving and ever-expanding process. And no doubt, I’ll continue growing throughout this process for the rest of my life.
I keep gradually letting go of this illusion of control and perfectionism.
Instead, I’m trying to embrace a wabi-sabi kind of life.
I’m unable to directly translate the Japanese term, wabi-sabi, but it basically means the ability to appreciate beauty in an imperfect world. This ancient Japanese philosophy celebrates different sorts of beauty, flaws and all. In fact, these “flaws” are actually cherished because of, (and not in spite of) the imperfections.
Isn’t this inspiring!?!
A wonderful illustration of this is the art of kintsugi.
Kintsugi involves filling cracked pottery with gold-dusted lacquer as a way to highlight the beauty of its age. Instead of hiding these “imperfections”, the wabi-sabi approach draws attention to the cracks and acknowledges them as part of the object’s beauty.
I love this so much!
This means that “imperfect parenting” can most definitely be a form of wabi-sabi. Finding beauty in our flaws! YES!
So here’s a question for you:
What if we tried to embrace wabi-sabi in our own lives?
Slowing down to relax.
Noticing the simple beauty in our everyday lives.
Allowing the present moment to be what it is, rather than what we want it to be.
What if we could learn to cherish the imperfections in our own messy and imperfect lives?
I believe that “imperfect parenting” can easily be referred to as “wabi-sabi parenting”. I also believe that as we lean more into accepting and celebrating ourselves as we are, we’ll be better able to lean into acceptance and celebration of our children, with all of their unique gifts and quirks.
So tell me, in what ways do you notice wabi-sabi in your own life? Are you up for joining me in joyfully (and imperfectly!) persuing imperfect (or wabi-sabi!) parenting!?! I’d love for you to join me!