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Good post from Mormon SAHM on striving to appear perfect


lilwriter85

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Laura is a Mormon mommy blogger. She is the sister of Heather from Paralyzed With Joy. I liked this posting that she did on perfection and she briefly mentions Mormon culture. I like that she did this posting, unlike some of the other Mormon mommy bloggers.

 

kissofthephoenix.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-disease-called-perfection.html

 

Quote
Quite some time ago, I read a post on a blog I frequent entitled The Disease Called "Perfection" (this link is to an updated version of the original post).

 

I cried.

 

I just read the updated post, and guess what?

 

I cried.

 

Now, people who are close to me know that I cry pretty easily. As in, at the drop of a hat. I always have. But this particular post hit incredibly close to home. Why? Because, like so many people, I suffer from this "disease". I fight it, and I fight it hard. But still this disease haunts me.

 

I think the idea of perfection is especially prevalent in Mormon culture. We're taught from an early age that we're commanded to be perfect, although we know we won't attain that in this life. But the striving is there. And striving to be perfect isn't necessarily a bad thing. But the need to appear perfect is dangerous.

 

How often do I take on more than I can really handle, because I want to appear a certain way? To appear to be the perfect wife, the perfect mom, the perfect student, the perfect....whatever.

 

How often do I say what is expected of me but don't really mean it, because I want to appear kind and sweet and agreeable?

 

How often am I disingenuous because I want to appear "perfect"? How often do I pretend that I'm happy with my body the way it is, because admitting I have a lot of weight to lose would be admitting imperfection?

 

How often do I pretend everything is fine, when in reality I can feel my depression creeping back up on me, because to admit weakness would be to admit imperfection?

 

Fortunately, the answers to these questions are: far less often than I used to. I have fought long and hard to be ME. Just me. Not a perfect (fake) version of me. The real me, complete with my insecurities, foibles, flaws, weaknesses.

 

I am not perfect.

 

I lose my temper with my kids and my husband. I slack off as a friend, as a sister, as a daughter. I hate my body, not because of my scars, but because of my weight. I feel fat and ugly, and I am terrified to make the changes I know I need to. I feel inadequate as a wife and mother. I feel like I should be doing more, I should BE more.

 

But I'm not. This is who I am. Yes, I keep striving for that unattainable perfection. But I don't obsess over it, and I try really hard not to present a facade to others.

 

Do you suffer from this "disease"? How does the pressure to appear perfect affect your life?

 

 

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I think she misdiagnoses the problem, and she can't do otherwise and still be a good Mormon. Wanting to appear perfect leads to trouble, sure, but being obsessed with being perfect is toxic and more wide-reaching. Additionally, the modern Mormon conception of perfection emphasises things that are bad for your mental health. She can't acknowledge the unhealthiness of the latter two.

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I think she raises some good points, but I think even wanting to be perfect can be harmful. For me, as a lifelong perfectionist, this leads to an all-or-nothing attitude, and if the "all" is too much to handle I just give up and don't bother at all. I stress out over the little things to the point where I become paralysed with anxiety. I don't care whether or not I appear perfect, I just want to *be* perfect.

In essence, I agree with Patsy in that she focusses on the problems associated with wanting to appear perfect and fails to acknowledge the deeper problems in wanting to be perfect.

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It's not a bad post...but it misses the larger issue of mommy-warrioring and the striving for perfection.

I'd put that into words if I knew how.

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I think she raises some good points, but I think even wanting to be perfect can be harmful. For me, as a lifelong perfectionist, this leads to an all-or-nothing attitude, and if the "all" is too much to handle I just give up and don't bother at all. I stress out over the little things to the point where I become paralysed with anxiety. I don't care whether or not I appear perfect, I just want to *be* perfect.

In essence, I agree with Patsy in that she focusses on the problems associated with wanting to appear perfect and fails to acknowledge the deeper problems in wanting to be perfect.

Insightful, alba! My The Spousal Unit boasted of being a perfectionist before we were spousal ... I seriously, seriously wish I'd know what that really meant; in his case (not yours or any one else's), I would not have married him.

Anyhoo. A former friend, a devout Mormon and the first generation in her family to be BIC (born in the covenant to Mormon parents), said to me one day, "Perfection is what we're all striving for." I disagreed, saying it was futile on two levels: we can never be perfect; Christ has been perfect for us. Her mom, the convert to Mormonism, happened upon us with a face contorted in disapproval. Shortly after that my friend said she could no longer provide daycare for my young juniors and I never heard from her again.

It's a sicko "doctrine."

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Ahhh, I don't even have to click the link on her blog to the post from the other blog to know the post she's talking about. "The Disease called 'Perfection'" was written by one Dan Pearce, aka Single Dad Laughing. It was one of the posts that made his blog so big just a few months after he started it. He himself was raised Mormon, I believe.

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Woman aren't "supposed" to work. They're not "supposed" to be ambitious. They're "supposed" to me mothers. That means for any ambition or status-seeking has only one acceptable outlet: motherhood.

Men are "allowed" to seek status at work and to have a time-consuming hobby that they can also build their self-esteem around.

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Ahhh, I don't even have to click the link on her blog to the post from the other blog to know the post she's talking about. "The Disease called 'Perfection'" was written by one Dan Pearce, aka Single Dad Laughing. It was one of the posts that made his blog so big just a few months after he started it. He himself was raised Mormon, I believe.

Ugh, that guy. I loathe him.

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Woman aren't "supposed" to work. They're not "supposed" to be ambitious. They're "supposed" to me mothers. That means for any ambition or status-seeking has only one acceptable outlet: motherhood.

Men are "allowed" to seek status at work and to have a time-consuming hobby that they can also build their self-esteem around.

I think that's why there's a push among at home mothers, not just Mormon mommies, to be grand in their wifely duties. As you stated, if you are ambitious and status-conscience and, for whatever reason, end up staying home, you channel that energy into the cooking and childcare.

For conservative Mormons, the pressure to conform to the SAHM model is pretty strong. Ambitious girls refocus their energies on marrying a good husband and becoming the uber-wife and uber-mother. Gourmet meals. Stylish clothing. Beautiful homes. I think that part of this competition stems from women who, growing up in a more liberal household, would have just gone onto a high powered career.

That said, there are also high powered, progressive women who are forced to take time off for motherhood. Many high powered careers are inflexible. Some high powered women are married to even higher powered husbands. For these women, the same phenomenon exists. The gourmet meals, the extra academic attention to their kids, the perfect home.

I honestly believe the women who truly choose to be at-home mothers, rather than have religion or job circumstances force their hand, are more laid back in their parenting. To them, being a full time mom isn't about status or a competition, it's about enjoying that job. However, so many women had their ambitions wheted by the numerous job opportunities opened to them, who are then forced by circumstances/values to conform to at-home parenting, that it makes mothering a competitive environment in general. The bar is raised, but not necessarily by those that enjoy parenting. I feel the Mormon perfect mommy syndrome is part of a larger issue of women who still struggle to find a balance between motherhood and career.

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