Use to be, I could tell you where every item was in my house. It was filed, organized and put in its place. I could run a white glove over every surface in my home and it would remain clean. All the toys were put in labeled boxes, the closets and drawers were color coded and shoes faced outward on the shelves in a perfect shine. I would sit for long spans and just look at the glorious clean with giddy admiration. If anything was turned out of place, I would feel panic well up inside me and I had to scurry to put it right.

When the children came and continued to come, I found it very difficult to keep up with the perfection I had created. I gave it my best and honestly, I nearly killed myself trying to work, raise children and keep a home. It was insanity that often turned to panic attacks.

Not sure if any of you have ever suffered from a full blown panic attack before but let me tell you, they will scare the heck out of you. Sweat will bead on your brow and your heart rate will double. Nausea snakes through you and for me, made my skin crawl with nervous dread. I would grit my teeth so hard that my jaw would ache for hours after the attack had come and gone. These were only some of the physical effects. Emotionally, I was a wreck.  It was a free-fall of emotions. No control and the perfection I had started with quickly relented to total chaos.

In my mind, I was a failure as a mother, a failure as a wife and a failure as a woman. I would look around at other women that could hold down all these things and it seemed they had it all together. Why couldn’t I?

When I really started to look at the reasons it became clear. They didn’t have five children to start with.  Also, these other women could mask their own chaos better than I could. Anyone that knows me even a little knows I live with my emotions on my sleeve. It is how I am put together. I decided my life would have to change. I would not make it much longer if it didn’t.

I made a promise to myself. I promised I would no longer do anything I didn’t want to do unless it was absolutely necessary. That is when my whole life shifted. I examined all the things that were really needed. I was shocked to find so many things that were not.

First I looked at the thing that took so much from me and gave so little in return…work. It was not about money but time. The time I spent away from my home was too much and my home and family suffered along with me. Society has given the impression that everyone in the household must work to gain material things but those things never equate to happiness. So, I stopped working.

The change in my home, my children and me was instant. My relationship with my family blossomed. They needed me at home. Even when all of the children were in public school, they needed to know I was a phone call away. The house was in better order and while I could work a few more hours a day for perfection, I don’t want to. It was that perfection that caused me to fear and panic.

We actually have more with me not working. The guilt I felt for not being home caused me to buy things for the children that we could not afford and they didn’t need. We eat 99% of all meals at home now. Before, we would eat quick junk because I was too tired to prepare a healthy and decent meal. We do more as a family because I have the energy to plan and prepare.

I am happy and content with being a wife, momma and woman. I do not feel little or oppressed by my role. It is not demeaning or low. It is liberating and uplifting. I do not suffer from panic attacks anymore but I am thankful I once did. They gave me the courage to be the very best woman I can be. They gave me the time for imagination and writing and they allowed me an opening to give my children the upbringing they deserve. Not everyone is blessed with this gift and I thank God every day. I am not perfect and I refuse to try to be.

Peace, love and God’s will.

About Diane Graham

Diane Graham lives in the mountains of eastern Oklahoma with her husband, children and many dogs. She is an avid reader and lover of all art forms that encapsulate imagination and goodness. Her debut novel I Am Ocilla was released in March 2012.

12 comments on “PERFECTION

  1. Amen, sister! Have I ever been there!! It’s so freeing to come to the realization of what you really “need” and what God wants for you! Hard, but freeing!!!
    (A great blessing and reminder for me today, as I stress over getting our apartment clean and in order!)

  2. It is a major adjustment, for sure. Just remember, the world will not end if you don’t get it all done. 😀

  3. It’s so true! You can’t compare yourself to others who are in completely different situation. I have to remind myself that if someone doesn’t have kids, or their kids are grown, of course their house will be cleaner. And I’ll have plenty of time to have a perfect house when my kids are grown.

    • Exactly! My kids are getting older now. As a matter of fact, my oldest son will be 18 this week. They sure do help a lot. My house gets cleaner with each passing year. 😀

  4. Just got through chatting with my daughter on facebook. She was (and is) an only child. I so love the woman she has become. The pressure to be perfect for me was probably the opposite from every one else in here. I did have a son…he was stillborn so of course, I felt there was all sorts of things I did wrong to deserve that. I had miscarried several babies too. Almost lost Mandi three times. I knew just enough about God or other people’s perception of Him to have a total misconception of what He really wanted from me. I thought I had to be perfect, act perfect, live perfectly in order to please him. First of all ,he loved me right where I was ! It took me awhile to realize that I did not have to be perfect in order to be blessed and loved. I wanted to be the perfect wife and mother and I thank God that my daughter was very young when I found the Lord in a real way. I never wanted her to get dirty because , after all,what would people think? They in their own way judged me, with little nuances that they said asking me why I only had one child like I was selfish or something or traumatized at being a mother. That is why I do not judge a soul to this day. We never truly know where that person has been in life, and what was written on the pages of their life book. So, with this new found revelation, I set my daughter free. She was a nature’s child…took her clothes off when she went outside. Got dirty, explored, was potty trained behind a tree. She watched ant beds for long periods of time, even picked up snakes (that was where I drew the line, HaHaHa) She found flowers in the snow and picked them, always was arranging weeds and flowers and wheat in vases. She is the most adventursome soul I have ever met. When she was 19 she flew to Europe and has lived there ever since. She is married to an English soldier whose grandfather is a Lord. She owned her own business in Germany, A flower shop called “Amanda’s Tumbleweed” and she transported tumbleweeds from west Texas and put them in her window. The local Germans just loved her windows. If I would have made her act perfect or had a prestine house all the time , I would have crushed the creativity and personality that makes her the wonderful woman that she is today! It is so good to be free and not perfect. Thanks Lady Di, once again.

    • I know these things about your life, my friend. What God does for us women, is make us okay in our own skin. We no longer have to hide our weaknesses or live in shame of our failures. We can speak to the world and show how God carries us through all that.

      Funny, a young boy taught me this lesson better than any book ever could have. He came to spend the night at our crazy house and said to me that he thought we were the best. It kind of shocked me because my house is not quiet and far from spotless. We argue and laugh loudly but to this boy, we were a beautiful mess that he longed for.

      His parents had died and his siblings had been sent to the four corners of the state. He was alone. I felt ashamed for ever complaining about my chaos. I have something people would pay anything for.

  5. awesome words, Diane. I feel twenty pounds lighter. 😀 I love it when you share from your heart. You have much wisdom. Keep your heart on your sleeve–it’s a good heart, and all the world should get to see it.
    Love ya, girlfriend!

  6. This post is so timely. I needed to hear just that. With a newborn and two preschoolers, my house is…um…not pretty. lol… I’ve been feeling guilty and trying to do more than the doc said I should. Thank you for sharing your experience with us!

    • You are so welcome, Ralene. I remember thinking I was the only one that felt that way. If you do not stay healthy, the house really might fall apart. While our husbands are at the helm, we are the hub.

  7. my dearest young-un,
    I, being a mere 64 years old, could literally write a book on this scenario. Not wanting to bore your readers, I will be content to provide a swift but accurate summary. There really is no, “After the children are gone.” Oh there is a brief time when you think you have a handle on things but…….. and I do mean but…….. just like all other history in this old world, it rolls around again with the Grand children. First you have the mother who can’t understand why you won’t keep things up away from the kids. “Maybe because I fell into the notion that all that was over!” Then you have the thought that you want to keep on being super mom. Only to be confronted with the fact that all your faculties do not work as well as they used to. You also now have twice as much junk that you have accumulated over the years,”Things that you will pass down to your children!” HA HA HA HA HA!!!! With the Economy the way it is now, all the things that you have saved are now twice as nice, twice as cheap and twice as disposable. So, all these little treasures have now become junk. Not only is it junk, but everything you have saved has been broken and glued back together at least a dozen times. ” I told you I could write a book!” Anyhoo, the point I am trying to make is……..wait for it……..There is no end to it, so do as you are doing and just enjoy the now. For it is all gone way too fast!
    Love ya, Momma

    • I love you too, Momma.

      I think people might get the impression that my house is nasty…it’s not. Just not perfect and very well lived in.

      What is that saying? It doesn’t get easier, the scenery only changes. 😀

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