The Toughest Parenting Issue I Have Tackled


When I was a little girl and played with dolls, being the mommy seemed so easy.

None of my dolls ever got up from their seat at tea time.

Not one of my stuffed animals ever defied my request to eat their vegetables.

More importantly, none of my toys spilled their milk at the dinner table. Not one.

toughest parenting issue

When I was a teenager, we were expecting company for a weekend, so I cleaned the house for my mom. Every last piece of furniture was dusted and every dish sparkled. The house was incredibly, perfectly clean. For about 5 minutes. You see, in a house that size with that many people, “perfectly clean” was temporary. Very temporary.

As a perfectionist who wanted everything “just so,” my little girl dreams of parenthood and my teenage impressions of housekeeping were a bit, well, skewed. The levels of perfection I dreamed of were reasonable to me; however, I didn’t realize the investment those levels would require. Having furniture arranged at the proper angle and decor that encouraged the appropriate, delicate atmosphere was a high priority.

Before sweet babies were born, I’ll confess to you: I didn’t go to bed unless the toilet paper was hanging properly in the bathroom.

Then I became a mom. 

While I could probably stop right there and many of you would completely catch the point I want to drive home with this post, the perfectionist in me just can’t assume that you would get it.

After the reality of parenthood struck home and the special needs of my daughter were well discovered, yet undiagnosed, I became aware that my levels of expectation for housekeeping and such were a bit, well, over the top.

You see the toughest lesson I’ve tackled in these almost 17 years of parenting is not

babies with colic…

or temper tantrums of toddlers…

or developmental delays of preschoolers…

or social interactions of schoolagers…

or rebellion of teenagers…

The toughest lesson I’ve learned and am still learning as a parent really isn’t a problem that children undergo.

The toughest lesson I’ve learned is how to redefine perfection.

Because perfection isn’t insuring that every hair is in place.

Perfection is assuring a happy heart.

Perfection isn’t organizing a closet that the President himself would never forget.

Perfection is cultivating a healthy home environment.

Perfection is more about how your children feel when you make cupcakes…

and less about whether the cupcakes are picture perfect for Pinterest.

Perfection is being the example of Jesus to our children…

He who had no roof to call home.

He who desired to hold the hands and hearts of children.

He who loved with perfect love.

While the dictionary offers the definition of “perfect” as “being entirely without fault or defect,” I tackled redefining the word.

Perfect really has nothing to do with being.

My definition of perfection is “yielding entirely without fault or defect.”

Perfection is simply accepting the imperfections of others, no matter who or what they are, and yielding it all to God.

Suddenly, the stain on the carpet by the front door doesn’t mean so much.

How do you redefine perfection?








  1. Thank you so much for posting this! When I was growing up, my Mom (who is the most wonderful woman in the world, she truly is an angel here on earth) had your same definition of perfection. She was a stay-at-home mom until I was 16 years old taking care of my dad, brother, sister, and myself. I remember my whole life, she made sure that we were happy, having fun and being taken care of. She would go out during the day after doing some chores and show us how to make mud pies, and play hide-and-seek, or making up some game to play if it was too hot and we needed cooled down or too cold and had to do fun things inside. But the thing I remembered getting most aggravated about when I was becoming a know-it-all teenager was that she wasn’t the most organized person, or should placing “blankets” on the chairs to make tents for us and leaving them there so we can play in them. Not that she didn’t keep a very clean house, but she didn’t keep it exactly how I thought it should be kept. So I always vowed that I WOULD NOT be like her. So when she went back to school and became a Registered Nurse, then went on to work in a Home Health Hospice (staying with patients and their families for days on end it seemed), I took on the responsibility of keeping the house exactly how I thought it should be. And criticized her for her lack of organization (I know today looking back I feel like a big ole spoiled brat).
    So when I got moved into my own apartment, then got married and moved into my own home with my husband, I was very OCD. I had a place for everything. Then the crazy thing happened….I became a mother. My first baby girl was easy enough that I could still be my compulsive self, but then I had twin boys 2 years later (yea….shocker). Everything I tried to do, failed and I realized I was making myself more miserable in trying to be “perfect” with everything perfectly placed and like you said, the toilet paper exactly the way it should be, and the towels hanging perfectly. And then it hit me, my mom had it right all along. I can keep a clean house, but I also need to have a house that my kids feel like its a home, not a museum. They can leave a toy out or place it in the wrong bin, and you know what….it’s ok. All that matters is that I spend quality time with my family, and not time walking through each room every 30 minutes to make certain everything is exactly where it should be.
    Granted, I have apologized to my mom, and it’s amazing to realize how happy that I am EXACTLY like my mom today!!! She is an amazing Christian, wife, mother, grandmother, and nurse. I just hope one day, my children will be as proud of me as I am of her. Thank you for this and all your blogs, they are very encouraging!!!


    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Christy!! Sounds like we are two peas in a pod- both with awesome moms. I appreciate your testimony to the journey of redefining perfection!

  2. Thank you for posting this! what an encouragement for me to read. As a mother of six, I am still learning this.

  3. I am pretty sure you wrote this post for me….. Seriously, the toilet paper comment spoke to my heart! I am still learning to redefine “perfection.” As a mom to four children under 5, it has certainly been one tough vocabulary lesson, but I am starting to get it. Thanks for sharing your wisdom-it really has helped me gain perspective.

    1. Oh Girl. I really do have to overlook the dirt, mess, and “problems” continually. And tell myself that they are the thieves of the joy I can experience in the moment. Bless you, I would say “I’ve been there” but 16 years later, “I’m still there.” 😉 Many blessings!!

  4. Rachel,

    As a new mom your message hits home and helps me to understand the bigger picture of parenting. Thanks for mentoring new moms like me with posts like this one. I appreciate your open heart.

    PS Pinned and FB promoted this post

    1. Bless you Monica! I think I’ve been a “new mom” for almost 17 years. 😉 Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. Just what I needed to hear today! Thanks!

    1. oh Girl! We’re two peas in a pod with these busy households. Hope you’re having a wonderful summer!

  6. I have lived with a perfectionist for almost 62 years now. It hasn’t been easy because his definition of perfection was always “his way” of doing things. I could do a job and he would come behind me and do it over. In the early years this made me feel worthless. When I started having children it was really hard to keep up at times. My usual nature was one of being a bit laid back, not getting bent out of shape if something wasn’t perfectly aligned or in the place it was supposed to be, however, over the years I have found that some of this had it’s merit. It became easier to give in and “do it his way” than fight about it. After reading your post today, I find that the things you spoke about are more important than being a perfectionist about everything. The last few years I haven’t been able to do everything I used to do due to a health challenge, however, this has not all been bad. I have found that my perfectionist husband ..I’m talking “brushing the trousers before hanging them up, shoes placed perfectly side by side, not stepped out of in the closet, and way beyond the normal in other ways, has pitched in and done what I can’t do and really does have a better attitude about my illness than I have. He is incredibly active and always moving, never sitting down until the 10 p.m. “Snooze” and then falling asleep before it is over kind of guy..that is why we call it the “10 p.m. Snooze”. I am blessed with a perfectionist for a husband and know he cares a great deal about me as he cares for my needs daily. I’m not sure that a person of my own “make-up” would be as thorough or as nice to me. Yes, he is a person that eats by the clock, which annoys me when I’m not hungry (by the clock), relates the way things should be by the way they used to be, and other things that aren’t important or relevant any more, but he is still the man I loved and married 62 years ago. What more could I ask for?

    1. I love the two of you! You are a beautiful, treasure of a couple. What a wonderful way to look back over the years and see how blessed you’ve been. Blessings to you!

  7. Yes, Rachel, yielding and letting the Lord’s perfection wash over and through us. Lovely!

  8. Beautifully put! I can SO identify! Thank you!

  9. Such a beautiful message…thank you for sharing such a timely reminder!

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