On a recent food shopping trip I stumbled across a gingerbread “turkey” decorating kit. On one hand, I was so excited; I love family projects and finding different activities to do with the boys. On the other hand, all the usual excuses started to creep into my head: "You don’t have time, the boys are too old, they won’t want to do it, and it will never look like the picture on the box."
This has been standard fare for me for as long as I can remember; only perfection will do. Heck, it's all I know. From studying, to athletics; I strive to be the best at everything I do. I worked extra hard, practiced extra hard, and studied all the time. I even remember my Mother calling me when I was in college and telling at me to stop studying! C'mon, whose Mom does that?
The expectations I set for myself might have helped me get into a good college, get my first job, and in all honesty, probably landed me my current job. But at what cost? The world is not perfect, people are not perfect, and setting such high expectations only leads to failure and in some circumstances missed opportunities. If the fear of failure is so great that it stops us from starting new things, stops us from exploring, and stops us from having fun and creating family memories, then being perfect isn’t all it's cracked up to be.
So what does that have to do with a gingerbread turkey? Well, in the spirit of letting go of perfection, and in this case any fears of not creating the picture-perfect turkey, I chose to go for it. Not only did I buy the turkey, but I managed to convince both the older boys that it would be a fun activity. From the candy shopping, to building the foundation, to the decorating, we had one of the best family days, with no electronics and no distractions; we just spent the day laughing and playing together. Was it perfect? Absolutely not! Was it a great experience that I will look to repeat? One hundred percent yes!
So what's the moral of this story? As the ever popular Frozen song tells us, "let it go!" The best tonic for self-care is to love thyself; good, bad and ugly!