Like me, are you a slave to perfectionism? Do you cringe at the sight of cabinet doors left open, drawers closed ‘almost’ all the way, or dining chairs either pushed in unevenly or not pushed it at all? How about throw pillows on each end of the sofa, does it drive you nuts if they aren’t placed in the right order and organized by color? I remember watching Sleeping with the Enemy with my husband, and watching as Julia Roberts opened the kitchen cabinet and began to frantically straighten the cans so that all the labels were facing out. I looked at my husband and said, “What’s wrong with that? That’s how our cabinets are.” His look of amusement was perplexing. I simply cannot STAND to not have canned and boxed items be organized by type and have all the labels facing out. How else do you find something when you need it?
I do realize that there’s probably a fine line between perfectionism and OCD, however I prefer to think of it as organization. I like my towels folded just so, my books and movies all facing the same direction, balance when it comes to decorating (meaning if there are two candlesticks at one end of the mantel, there must be two candlesticks on the other end to match), and everyone should simply do it MY way! My family however, tends to think I’m nuts and usually just smile and nod, responding with “Okay, mom, whatever you say.” Patronization isn’t an attractive trait by the way, then again neither is perfectionism.
Over the years I’ve had learned a few things the hard way. If I insist on perfectionism, my family resents me and won’t do things the way I wanted them done anyway, then I expend valuable energy being angry. This makes no sense. I get angry at them for doing things differently than the way I want them done instead of being reasonable and compromising. It’s difficult to admit, but I’ve behaved like a shrew. Then, a few years ago I ran across a notion on Flylady.net that’s amazingly apropos. Are you ready for this? Housework done imperfectly still blesses our family (paraphrased). Let that one roll around in your perfectionist brain a bit. Wow.
While I will never stop expecting my family to pick up after themselves, I’ve discovered that a day at the river with my kids is exponentially more rewarding than a day of driving them to drink while I bark orders at them like so many slaves, to complete tasks they have no hope of completing to my satisfaction. I’ve discovered that no one will stroke out if there’s a bit of dust on the TV and that I’m capable of closing a drawer and straightening cans to my liking without berating my family into submission. There’s this rumor circulating around my house that they might actually LIKE me now. Who knew?
Sometimes… when you hold out for everything, you walk away with nothing. ~From the television show Ally McBeal