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To the perfectionist mom feeling like a failure—you are more amazing than you think

If you could only see yourself through the eyes of these people who love you most, you would understand.

To the perfectionist mom feeling like a failure—you are more amazing than you think

It was only when I started having panic attacks that I realized my efforts to order my life with exacting precision were an attempt to make me feel safe in a world that felt threatening. No amount of organizing, planning, or sacrificing sleep for productivity could keep people I loved from dying or help me learn to love myself.


All the volunteering and detailed homeschool plans, the freshly baked muffins and constant cleaning could not shelter me from the reality that I was imperfect and so afraid. That I didn't believe I had what it takes.

It took a trip to the emergency room and a thoughtful doctor for me to admit that I was not truly in control at all. That my efforts to hold on tight, to control or even manipulate, to suppress all my feelings, were stopping me from truly living.

Perfectionism was simply one of the ways, among many, that I self-medicated. It robbed me of joy. It held me back from even dreaming about the work I longed to do. It kept me hidden and ashamed. And yes, it did hurt the people I loved most in the world.

And once that self-protection opened up, the pain hit fierce and fast. But it was only then that I began to truly live.

Because here is the truth: I am imperfect and I am beautiful.

Life is scary and sometimes painful but it is also dripping in breathtaking beauty and possibility. And we cannot have one without the other.

To the perfectionist mom feeling like a failure today: you are more amazing than you think.

It is not perfection that makes you lovable.

It is not your ability to perform or keep up that determines your worth.

And all the times you have yelled or panicked or prioritized appearance over relationship— they do not diminish the truth that you are also a wonderful mom. Imperfect and beautiful.

If you could only see yourself through the eyes of these people who love and need you most, you would understand. They don't judge you for your flaws or need you to be perfect.

They are ready to forgive and offer you the same grace you pour out for them when they fall. They see what you don't see: You are amazing.

There is no magic pill for learning to walk free of perfectionism. It requires showing up each day and practicing. But there are a few shifts that have helped me along the way.

I made the decision to love myself: all the beautiful and the broken bits. To treat myself, speak to myself, with kindness and compassion. I want my kids to see that I delight in them for who they are not what they achieve, but this must begin with me.

I began to get honest about my addictions and my fears and to ask for what I need. This has been hard work and I am still learning vulnerability, embracing my limitations, and practicing healthy ways to calm anxiety.

I (tentatively) learned to trust the journey. Looking back, I can see how far I have come and how so many of the most amazing gifts in my life are far more beautiful than I could have ever planned for myself. I begin and end each ordinary day with gratitude and show up each day with joyful curiosity.

Landing in the emergency room that day, hooked up to heart monitors, was not a failure on my part. All the times since then, that perfectionism had me hiding under the covers, freaking out over messes, or doubting my ability—I am not a failure in these moments either.

I am in the game. Showing up each day. Choosing to fight for life even though I am afraid.

I am modeling to my children what it looks like to be an imperfect but beautiful human being who tries and fails, who risks and soars. A mom who forgives and asks forgiveness as many times as is necessary; who grieves and wrestles but does not give up.

You are not a failure either. And you are far more amazing than you think.

In This Article

    Why right now is the best time for a drivable getaway

    Flexible schedules mean more vacation options. 🙌

    Looking back now, last winter feels like a lifetime ago. At the time, my husband and I were eagerly planning our summer vacation just as we've done in years past. You know how the next part goes: COVID-19 came into the picture and changed our plans not only for vacationing, but for so much else in life.

    In the time since then, we've gained a truly valuable new perspective on what matters—and realized we don't have to look so far to make beautiful memories with our kids. By exploring getaways within driving distance of our home, we've developed a new appreciation for the ability to "pack up the car and go."

    Of course, that isn't to say that travel is the carefree adventure it once was. With COVID-19 still a very big part of the equation, we've become much more diligent about planning trips that allow for social distancing and exceed cleanliness standards. That's why we've exclusively turned to Vrbo, which helps us find nearby accommodations that meet our new criteria. Better yet?

    Thanks to the money we've saved by skipping air travel and our remote-friendly work schedules, we're able to continue with the trips throughout the fall.

    Here are a few more reasons we believe it's a great time for drivable getaways.

    Flexible schedules allow us to mix work + play.

    After months of lockdown, my family was definitely itching for a change of scenery as the summer began. By looking at drivable destinations with a fresh set of eyes—and some helpful accommodation-finding filters on Vrbo—we were able to find private houses that meet our needs. (Like comfortably fitting our family of five without anyone having to sleep on a pull-out couch!)

    With space to spread out and feel like a home away from home, we quickly realized that we didn't need to limit our getaways to the weekends—instead we could take a "Flexcation," a trip that allows us to mix work and play. Thanks to the ability to work remotely and our kids' distance-learning schedule for the fall, we're planning a mid-week trip next month that will allow us to explore a new destination after clocking out for the day.

    We’re embracing off-season deals.

    With Labor Day no longer marking the end of our vacationing season, we're able to take advantage of nearby getaways that mark down their rates during the off season. For us in the Mountain West, that means visiting ski-town destinations when the leaves are falling rather than the snow. By saving money on that front, we're able to splurge a bit with our accommodations—so you can bet I search for houses that include a private hot tub for soaking in while enjoying the mountain views!

    Vacationing is a way to give back.

    If we've learned one thing this year, it's that life can change pretty quickly. That's given us a new appreciation for generous cancellation policies and transparent cleaning guidelines when booking trips. By seeing both of these things front and center in Vrbo listings along with reviews from fellow travelers, I feel confident when I hit the "book now" button.

    Beyond that, I know that booking a trip through Vrbo isn't only a gift to my family. On the other side of the transaction, there are vacation home owners and property managers who appreciate the income during these uncertain times. What's more, taking getaways allows us to support our local economy—even if it's just by ordering new takeout food to enjoy from our home away from home.

    While "looking ahead" doesn't feel as easy as it once did, I am confident that there will be a lot of drivable getaways in our future.

    This article was sponsored by Vrbo. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

    So, what's new this week?

    Happiest Baby: Baby sleep solutions designed by the experts

    Created by renowned pediatrician, baby sleep expert and (as some might say) lifesaver Dr. Harvey Karp, Happiest Baby has been helping new parents understand and nurture their infants for close to two decades. Building on the success of his celebrated books and video The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block he's developed groundbreaking, science-based product solutions that conquer a new parent's top stressor—exhaustion.

    WSEL Bags: Dad-designed diaper bags that think of everything

    WSEL stands for work smart, enjoy life—an ethos we couldn't agree with more. Founded by a stay at home dad who struggled to find a diaper bag that he not only wanted to use, but one that would last far beyond the baby years, these premium, adventure-ready backpacks are ideal for everything from errands to week-long getaways.

    Codex Beauty: Exceptionally effective sustainable skin care

    Codex Beauty's line of sustainable plant-based skin care blends the science of plant biology with biotech innovations, to create clinically proven, state-of-the-art products for all skin types. They're all vegan, EWG and Leaping Bunny verified and created in collaboration with Herbal Scientist Tracy Ryan who uses concepts dating back to the 8th century leveraging plants like sea buckthorn and calendula flower. Not only are we totally crushing on the innovative formulas that are in the packaging but we're in love with the sustainable sugarcane-derived tubes as well.

    Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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    Mama, all I see is you

    A love letter from your baby.

    Mama,

    I can't see past you right now, I'm so small and everything's a little blurry.

    All I see is you.

    When you feel alone, like the walls are closing in, remember I'm here too. I know your world has changed and the days feel a little lonely. But they aren't lonely for me.

    You are my everything.

    When you feel like you don't know what you're doing, you're making it look easy to me. Even though we're still getting to know each other, you know me better than anyone.

    I trust you.

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