Perfect expectations

Kathy Krugeradoption, guilt, IVF, motherhood23 Comments

Book cover mock_edited-5

Perfection has to be the most impossible of expectations yet I have burdened myself with it.

Not, thankfully, in every area of my life, or I might just have sacrificed my sanity.

I’m quite Ok with not having the house spotless (or even close), and with being on the lax side of the grooming (although not hygiene) department. In any number of ways I content myself with less than perfect, which is just as well, as I fall far short of it.

But when it comes to being a mother, I have a debt of gratitude to repay.

And the price demanded is nothing less than perfection.

Whilst the rational side of me knows that perfection is intangible, the emotional side of me feels the tug of expectation coming from an invisible red thread stretching all the way to China. Pulling on my heartstrings. Keeping me in awe at how much I’ve been given.

“An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, across time, place and circumstance. The thread my stretch or tangle, but will never break.”                                                 ANCIENT CHINESE PROVERB
Our two kids_edited-2

My children’s birth parents don’t demand perfection from me – I will never know what they hoped for, sadly I will never know them.

As a mother I can only imagine my children’s mothers wanted the best for them. And that’s what I try to give their kids, our kids – yet it is not enough.

It’s me who feels I owe so much for the privilege of parenting ‘someone else’s children’.

After all, the gift of our two kids is priceless – who am I to complain about the bargain?

I wasn’t the one who lost, but the one who gained.

And yet this business of parenting is hard. There’s no rulebook, no instruction manual. Being perfect is hard. Being perfect is impossible.

So I suffer (along with most mothers I know) the scourge of mother-guilt – only my guilt is magnified because of how much I owe. Can’t you see how much I have to repay?

The only way to get over the guilt is to be perfect – that’s the answer – only this parenting thing is hard, and the hardest part of all is that it may not be what (or everything) I imagined it would be.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s still wonderful (well most of the time), but it’s just not as fulfilling as I dreamed it would be through those long years of infertility, and waiting out the adoption process when it was all I could dream of.

I may actually want more! Only how could that possibly be?

What the hell is wrong with me?

The right answer might be ‘nothing’ but it’s hard, impossible for me to see that.

So instead I feel even MORE GUILTY, and the only antidote to so much guilt is to atone for all the loss, all the pain by being PERFECT.

You see the pattern!

The expectation of perfection feels like my penance, and I know perfection is unrealistic, and I know it doesn’t make sense, and I know I’m allowed to want other things, and I know it’s Ok to just do my best, be my best.

It’s just not how I feel.

Linking up with Always Josefa for ‘Conversations with Expectation’ and the lovely Grace for FYBF and joining the Digital Parents April Blog-Carnival!


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Kathy KrugerPerfect expectations

23 Comments on “Perfect expectations”

  1. always josefa (@always_josefa)

    What a truly powerful post Kathy. I love the idea of the red thread connecting you. And to hear you say parenting “other people’s children” really struck a chord with me. In my eyes they are your children, but I guess I never thought you would feel this way. The complexity of how we feel as mothers, how that is dynamic and fluid as the phases of parenting change and how somehow we know it is not right nor expected, but we carry the guilt as a burden – loved how you explored this in your post. Thank you for linking up to #convocoffee Josefa

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Thanks Josefa – the red thread is a really powerful concept for me, and one lots of adoptive parents think of. I feel a lot of mixed up feelings around adoption and infertility that probably shouldn’t impact me, but somehow are still there, sometimes raw, other times in the background.

  2. Renee Wilson

    Ahh Kathy. I had a lump in my throat reading this. I can fully understand how you would place this expectation upon yourself and why you feel the need to be perfect. You, we, just need to learn to not be so hard on ourselves. You are doing an AMAZING job as the mother of these lucky children. What you are doing is the best. It is enough. I can’t seem to express to you what I want in words. Instead I will send you a virtual hug. Thank you for sharing such intimate thoughts with us xxxxxx

  3. bakeplaysmile

    Hi! Wow a post. You sound like the most incredible woman… and your two kids are just gorgeous. Expectations is something I continually struggle with too! xxxx

  4. Me

    I have no words but I am sending you big hugs !!! You are an amazing Mom and I just know that their birth mothers would be absolutely thrilled at how you are bringing your children up !
    With love !
    Me

  5. snippetsandspirits

    How lucky they are to have a beautiful heartfelt mamma like you. Accept that you have this gift in each other and feel guilty if you want but move on. Know that the red thread chose you for the way that you are, not the perfect ideal of you but the you of today as that is all we have. A beautiful and powerful post Kathy.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Thank you so much Sarah – I like your idea of the red thread choosing me (I always think of it as the other way round I guess) and that I was chosen as the person I am, not any sort of perfect ideal. Because some people say that our kids are lucky, I always say we are lucky to have each other, and I believe that. And I do need to move beyond the guilt!

  6. Living Serenely

    I found it really interesting to see your perspective as a mother of adopted children. All parents are entrusted with the stewardship of our children, to see them through their childhood. But I can see how this feeling of stewardship can be felt more distinctly for you. I read somewhere there are zero ways to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one. I know you are doing a good job right where you are.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      I love that quote Serene – that is really reassuring and I do know I need to let go of those expectations. I feel very strongly because of adoption and also because the whole journey to have our kids was so long, I wanted children so bad, that I somehow feel I have to justify that longing. Thanks for your lovely comment.

  7. Martine@themodernparent

    I think being imperfect is perfect parenting. If you are aiming for perfection but hitting bumps along the way, recognising them, challenging them, sometimes being defeated by them…….then you are being the perfect parent for your children no matter how they came into your life.

  8. Lydia C. Lee

    I like the idea of the red thread. I am also a firm believer of the quote from The Little Prince, that ‘it is the time spent with the rose that makes it special’. If you pour your love into a child (or person), it is not ‘other people’s children’. It is your child.
    I am sure you are doing a great job, and maybe you need to take some time to consider this too.

    1. Lydia C. Lee

      Of course, you can say I don’t know what I’m talking about – take the comment with the well meaning intention it was said with, not meaning to dismiss your feelings.

    2. Kathy Kruger

      Thanks Lydia – I love the red thread and I do feel this positive connection with China and our kid’s birth parents. You are right that I need to cut myself some slack and think more in terms of the privilege of parenting than any burden of debt.

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