I recently saw something striking shared by a fellow lawyer mom. Somebody wrote: “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” Yes, you read that right. After I got over my initial reaction of “HUH?!”, I made it my new mom mantra. (Having a mantra really helps, and this one’s great, too!) Let me explain.
I’ve been at this motherhood thing for about three years now, and some days I don’t recognize myself. I’m not sure what happened. I went from being a Type-A perfectionistic lawyer to merely hoping I could have any tangible answer to “what did you do today?”. It’s safe to say that times have changed. But for a long time, my expectations of myself remained the same. It was a maddening situation.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as a mom is realizing that there simply isn’t enough time to get everything done perfectly. It’s an obvious point, as any mom can tell you. But it’s not easy to accept that of all the things you used to be able to accomplish every day, now you can only pick a few. And they had better not conflict with anyone else’s needs! I found myself regularly not having time for a proper workout, or only being able to crank out a couple paragraphs instead of an entire essay. I’ve found myself having to cut corners in many ways that would have made me crazy pre-motherhood. And I used to feel like if I don’t have time to do something properly, it’s not worth doing at all.
Now, I feel the opposite. My new mom mantra basically boils down to this: if something is important enough to do well, it’s better to do it halfway than not to do it at all. So if I think exercising is important, doing it for ten minutes is better than doing it for zero minutes. Even if, before I became a mom, a ten-minute workout seemed like a joke. This idea can be applied to anything: self-care and productivity alike. No time to wash your hair? Dry shampoo is better than nothing. No time to write elaborate thank you notes? A text or email is better than not sending anything at all.
Realizing this has helped me relax my standards in a way that never seemed acceptable before. Instead of beating myself up for not doing things the way they “should” be done in ideal world, I will find contentment in doing something instead of nothing.
I’m learning to give myself grace. And that perfectionism has no place in motherhood. Settling never feels great. But if something is important to you, it’s worth doing what you can (even the bare minimum) if the only other option is to not do it at all. As moms we sometimes have to fit our own needs in the crevices left after everyone else’s needs are met. But we can be kind to ourselves and not let perfection stand in the way of what’s possible and good enough.