The Illusion of Effortless Perfection: An Accidental Lesson From My Mother

The Illusion of Effortless Perfection: An Accidental Lesson From My Mother

Why do we do it all, and do it all supremely well, but still (ala 1950's housewife) try to make it look like it was easy? It wasn't easy. It isn't easy. It's time we start being more brave and more vulnerable about sharing what it takes to be who we are and do all that we do.

We wake up early. We exercise. We eat well. We work on healing our trauma. We drink water. We water our plants. We make time to volunteer. We excel at work. We excel as parents. As aunts. As friends. As caretakers. We work on our desire. We live by gratitude and die by kindness. We make eye contact. We limit our screen time. We look damn good. We moisturize. We exfoliate. We manicure our nails and tame our hair. We smell good. We read books. We make time for people in need. We host dinner parties. We remember birthdays - and birthday gifts. We make sure everyone see's the doctor. We take care of the pets. We research the ingredients. We plan the vacations. We clock in. We never clock out. We never complain. We wake up. We do it again.

My mom (my everything) is the master of this, truly. She has so many plates spinning at every given moment it makes me speechless, but you would seriously never know. 

That's because she makes it appear effortless. Dinner for fifty with one day's notice? Done. Raise $1,000,000 for charity by personally calling people and inspiring them to give? Done. Get adult kids out of random jams every day of the week? Done. Find the leak in the sprinkler system that two companies couldn't find? Done. Drop everything to become a literal caretaker? Done. Come over at 4 am within 2 minutes flat because her grandson woke up with a cry that sounded weird? Done. Make a marriage work and grow even though the same underlying issues persist and are never resolved? Done. Don't skip even one beat despite back-to-back physical injuries that required surgery, a year of PT, six months of a caste, and an ER visit due to the near loss of a finger? Done. Look freaking amazing at almost 60 despite all of the above? DONE.

But it isn’t effortless. And it takes a toll. Her quest for effortless perfection is taking its toll. I see it on her face. In her body. The injuries didn't happen by accident. They are a symptom of a mind that is too busy for its own good, and too mired in perfection to stop anything or ask for help.

For once I just want to hear her say, I worked really hard on this. Or even better, have her say, this is too much for me. But she doesn’t. She says it was easy. It wasn’t. Where does that leave me? I used to model her because she is my ultimate role model. Spoiler alert: it didn't work. I will never measure up to her. Because while her effortless perfection is wrong - she is truly the closest to perfect I think anyone could ever come.

So instead of modeling her in this regard, I mother her. With lessons in self love. I try to help her slow down. To ask for help. To set boundaries. To do less, receive more. to Put. Herself. First.

Because I know for her nothing has been “just like that.” Nothing has been effortless. Exactly the opposite. She left her family and country at 21 with a newborn to start a new life. Everything she learned she learned on her own. Everything she has achieved has been through an outrageous almost superhuman level of care, thought, love, talent and effort.

The Self Love Pinky Ring pictured here is hers: the Mini Self Love Pinky Ring with a white sapphire in yellow gold. I hope that in moments when she feels inclined to do it all and act like it was nothing, she will look at it and remember: it wasn’t nothing. It was ME.