The Quest for Perfect

Some might say I’m a bit neurotic. I’m not neurotic; I’m… particular. I like things done a certain way, and I think that way is my way. My way = the right way. (My husband does not agree.)

A shrink would tell me that this stems from my childhood. My father is also… particular. He, too, likes thing done his way. So much so that he would rather do something on his own than accept help from someone who might do things differently. Example: when I was growing up and I would make my bed, he would go behind me and re-make it because he liked the way his method looked better.

And while that drove me absolutely crazy growing up, I have found that I am more like my father than I’d like to admit.

My quest for perfection has caused me to do some over the top things.

  • When I was in college, I would tear up my notes and start over if I didn’t like my handwriting.
  • I color code my calendar. I use 6 different color sharpies for different categories. I can’t just scratch things out if they get cancelled. I have to use white out.
  • I find it impossible to “pick up” or “lightly clean” my house. Every time I clean I am dusting baseboards, scrubbing the floor, steam mopping, etc.

Frankly, it is exhausting. It is exhausting to me and I know it is exhausting to my family. I can’t do things halfway; I always have to take the more difficult, more time consuming road. And that road comes with its own consequences.

I am stressed more than I should be. I stress about keeping a clean house. I stress about hosting parties and play dates. I stress about Christmas decorations and planting the garden. It’s quite ridiculous, really.

Here’s a perfect example of my crazy: I clean my house like a mad woman before company comes over. I know most of us do this, but I do it to an extreme. Scrubbing toilets the guests won’t use. Cleaning rooms they won’t step foot in. Steam cleaning the carpet and wiping down the baseboards. By the time the party happens or the visitor arrives, I’m so tired that I find I don’t enjoy myself.

There are consequences for my family, as well. My husband won’t load the dishwasher anymore because he says “you’ll just go behind me and do it over.” (I will.) He doesn’t help me with some things around the house because he feels like I am critical of how he gets things done. He will fold clothes, for example, but he will not put them away because he says I am too particular about exactly where the clothes should hang in the closet. (To that I say – long sleeves go together, short sleeves go together, pants go together…)

There was a point recently when I knew I had to change. I had to let go of my quest for perfection because it was negatively impacting my family.

A few weeks ago, I told my son he needed to clean up his playroom. He hemmed and hawed and made up a million reasons why he couldn’t put his toys away. I finally lost my temper and demanded to know why he wouldn’t clean up. “Because, Mommy, I will put them in the wrong place and then you will be mad at me.”


It was like a slap in the face. What was I doing to my child? Sure, I like things to be organized but was I being so over the top that my child feared me? Did it truly matter? Would the world end if Buzz Lightyear ended up in the same bin as the red Angry Bird? No! What was I teaching my child? Did I want him to end up like me? Stressed and overwhelmed by things that frankly are not that difficult or important in the grand scheme of things?

The answer was no. The world wouldn’t end if the toys weren’t put in the right place. The world wouldn’t end if my husband loaded the dishwasher his way instead of my way. The world wouldn’t end if pants and short sleeves got together and had a party in my closet.

The world wouldn’t even end if I made up my bed my way instead of my Dad’s way.

I’m a work in progress, of course. I still clean obsessively before people come over. I just stop short of cleaning the baseboards because really – who notices baseboards? I still have a place for everything, but if someone puts something in the wrong place I either let it be or I move it if it really bothers me. I even scratched something out on my calendar a few days ago and I didn’t use white out. Madness!

Perfection is over-rated. Sometimes “good enough” is just fine.



  1. Jody Meyers says:

    You and I are practically the same person! It’s scary!

  2. I wish I was more towards perfectionist tendencies. My house is a perpetual mess.

    • My perfectionist tendencies usually don’t extend to the house – there is a point where I get overwhelmed by the mess Cooper creates and I just give it up. It’s a constant battle to keep it clean!

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