perfection

Raising Kids as a Perfectionist Has Resulted in This

potty training

I’m your stereotypical Jewish woman—somewhat. I like to cook because I enjoy watching my family eat. I like to entertain because it brings me joy to watch others get along. I live and breathe for my kids. I want to give them the world, which is why I work so damn hard at the office.

I’m also your typical Type-A perfectionist. When I cook, my food has to look appealing and I get upset when it doesn’t. When I entertain, I want it to look like Pinterest designed the party. When my kids break a toy I gave them, it pains me because I worked really hard to buy that toy. Yup. I’m a perfectionist. Or, at least, I was… until my oldest son came along.

As the proud Ima of two young boys and two loveable dogs, there are things I’ve let go of: my house being spotless; cooking a gourmet meal every night; and folding laundry as soon as it’s dry. But that has more to do with the lack of time than easing up on perfection.

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When my oldest son was a baby, I waited with bated breath for him to do the things that babies do: roll over, smile, laugh, and crawl. I longed for him to crawl early. I waited. And I waited. The kid crawled a week before his first birthday—and he didn’t practice beforehand. He waited… until he could do it perfectly. This nearly killed me as a first-time mom! All of my friends had kids who were almost WALKING by the time he learned to crawl. When I asked his pediatrician if there was something wrong with him, he said, “No, he’s just taking his time doing things!”

My son’s next lesson in perfection was walking. As a toddler, if you held his hand, he walked perfectly. He enjoyed zooming around the house with his walkers but he would not walk on his own. He scooted. Well, he more dragged one leg behind him in a sort of Quasimodo-like walk. It made me nervous that he wasn’t walking by 18 months. Our pediatrician recommended physical therapy, but it was my Dad who said, “He’ll walk when he’s ready!”

After hearing my dad say this a few times, I started to believe it. I freaked out at first that something was really wrong with him, but my dad kept reassuring me that timing is everything. I found it reassuring that my dad was telling me to be patient.

We worked with his preschool to make sure he was holding onto a teacher’s hand as he walked so he stopped ruining shoes and pants as he dragged his leg on the floor. But still, nothing. He just wouldn’t do it.

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After giving birth to my younger son, I became a mom of two kids who didn’t walk, and it was so frustrating for my Type-A personality.

Then, one day, at 20-ish months, he got up and walked perfectly across the living room. Seriously, kid?!

He’s almost 4 years old now and we’ve reached another hurdle—potty training. He has two cousins around his age who are fully potty trained. His friends at school are potty trained. He is not. It’s not for a lack of trying or consistency. It’s because he’s a perfectionist. Except this time I’m just letting it go. Like everything else this child has done, he will do it on his own time, and as much as it kills my Type-A personality because I just want him to be potty trained already, I’ve let it go. I’m letting him tell me when he’s ready to potty by himself. In reality, I’ve given up. There’s only so much “training” you can do, and I gave up.

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While my son is so much like his dad—personality, loving nature, physical structure, and stature—his perfectionist tendencies are all mine, as is his temper. Sometimes I find it funny that those are the traits he gets from me; other times I’m grateful because at least I know how to deal with him when he gets angry. Mostly, this has all taught me to chill out and let my child be his perfectionist-self.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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