Show of hands if you think you’re perfect? Yeah, me neither.
But we sure try, don’t we? Because somehow we feel that if we are perfect, everything in life will magically fall into place. I fall so far short of perfection that I can’t help but feel the old green monster eating me up alive when I spy other mothers who seem to be getting it all right. The ones who are able to wear white and keep it white, who have immaculately behaved children, and who never appear to have chipped their nail polish. Seriously — how do they do it?
I’ll also confess that when I see Hollywood moms looking all perfect — whether it’s on Instagram, in gossip mags, or at awards shows — I tend to feel the same way. Their lives just look so flawless, how could they not be perfect?
But it turns out, Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon is no fan of perfection. And she is here to shatter all the myths we believe about it.
While launching her new HBO TV series, Big Little Lies, Witherspoon explained to Variety that she insisted upon there being a change in her character Madeline Martha Mackenzie’s personality, saying:
“I didn’t have anything to play but perfection, and I just think those people who are perfect [are] all full of sh*t.”
Hey, if a bonafide A-lister — who regularly graces the cover of chic fashion mags — thinks perfection is unattainable, then maybe there is hope for the rest of us after all? Reese continued:
“I think there’s something fascinating about a person who projects perfection or is very judgmental of others who is clearly just swimming in their own discontent.”
I couldn’t agree more; so why then do I strive for perfection all the time?
I can pretend that I don’t care what the other moms think of my parenting, or what the neighbors think of my house or what my friends’ think of my spouse — but I do! I wish beyond anything else that I could be more like my husband and not give a crap, but yet I care — why?
Is it insecurity? That if I’m not perfect I have failed? Or maybe it’s all about trying to show that I’m capable, and that I can in fact achieve perfection — trying to score points against others in some insane way?
If we really examine our reasons for wanting that perfect lifestyle, isn’t it deep down just to achieve some kind of status or notoriety? That we are somehow superior if we bake the best cake at the school sale or have the most immaculate kitchen?
I remember talking to my therapist once, about how I couldn’t go to bed if the cushions on my sofa weren’t straight (please, hold your judgments) and I said that I often felt not as “good” as other moms. The therapist told me that most of the moms she talked to looked like they had the perfect life, but were actually in miserable marriages or were unsatisfied with their circumstances. She also told me that striving for perfection in all areas is simply bad for our health and stress levels. Not to mention exhausting.
Ugh. So why do we do it? And what’s perfection, anyway? I’d define it as being on top of everything and somehow breezing through life, looking incredible with a lifestyle (and kitchen) to match. But if you ever watch a duck gliding by on the surface of a pond, what you don’t see is that underneath its little webbed feet, they’re furiously paddling to stay afloat.
As Reese seems to suggest, those who look perfect are just swimming in their own discontentment. For all we know, the image they’re projecting isn’t the reality once they get home; and what we aspire to is all a veneer.
When you really think about it, the most carefree people who turn up in the carpool lane have barely gotten of their PJs; they forget bake sale day and will invite you in for a coffee even though their kitchen is a mess. They are so comfortable with themselves that they make you want to be around them.
As for me, I’ve started to take my foot off the peddle a bit and give myself a break. I no longer feel it’s necessary to do the school run wearing makeup. I don’t even bake for the bake sale any more — I buy ready-made buns from the supermarket and slap some ready-made icing on them. And you know what? They look — dare I say it — pretty damn perfect.
My new aim is not for glossy, shiny, all singing, all dancing perfection and instead is to be “good enough” … whatever I feel that may be.
After all, if it’s good enough for Reece …