I spent much of my early years as a perfectionist. I could go into the reasons why that mentality was so engrained in me from a young age, but I’m not sure there’s enough space on my blog or patience from you to sort through what took years of therapy and medication to unearth. At any rate, this is how I grew up. Anything less than perfection wasn’t good enough, whether it be something I did or, in general, the person I was.
In high school, that wall crumbled a bit. Part of me realized that I didn’t WANT to be perfect, so I tried a little less – probably in some areas of my life than others (and in some areas that I shouldn’t have). This carried over into my undergrad years at college where I tried just enough in my school work to get through, while trying too hard in my personal life to compensate for what I wasn’t doing in my school work.
Infertility shattered this idea of perfection for me, too. It made me see that I could try as hard as I wanted to, but that things were never going to work out the way that I had for so long envisioned them working. That I could dream about this perfect life and do everything in my control to obtain it, but that things would just happen sometimes that were out of my control.
I think understanding this before we proceeded with adoption was crucial to my grieving process. Not only did I need to grasp that I wasn’t perfect or my life wasn’t perfect, but I also needed to understand that nothing surrounding how we would build our family could be perfect, either. I sometimes wonder if this is why my heart leaned toward adoption rather than IVF — because, deep down inside, I was beginning to embrace the imperfection.
And I don’t mean that in a negative way. Not one bit. In fact, quite the opposite. I was finally okay enough with myself to open my eyes and truly see everything that surrounded me. I was secure enough in my own imperfections that I began to embrace every aspect of life that was imperfect. I accepted the challenge of how complicated adoption can, and would, be. I accept these challenges daily as an adoptive parent. I am not perfect, my daughter is not perfect, and the circumstances that brought us together are far from it.
Yet, that’s what I love most about it. Messy is hard, but perfection is even harder.
I remember the first time we met K’s birth/first mom. I sat across the table from her at Red Lobster and wondered if my hair was out of place. If my voice sounded shaky. If I was answering her questions okay. Less than a four days later, both of us held K in our arms — she transferring our daughter over to me. I looked up at her, and suddenly, I knew that trying to look and sound perfect on the day that we met was ridiculous. I knew this because the eyes mine met in that moment were my own.
There was no need to be perfect. There was just a need to be me. To be the best I could be for her. And her.
Almost two years later, I have days where I struggle. Moments that frustrate me more so than others. Times when I feel like I’m failing as a parent. It’s in these instances when I try to remind myself that I don’t want to be perfect, nor can I be. The more that I see and experience, the less I care about having the perfect existence. I still work hard, but I do so with the understanding that I am who I am. I’m human. I can only accomplish so much. I can only strive to be the greatest version of myself, whatever that is.