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Perfect failure

I failed at being the perfect mother for my daughter when her OCD was debilitating and she was struggling the hardest.

When her OCD became so severe that she couldn’t get out of bed, I decided that it was my job to take care of her - I am her mom after all - and I intended to do it perfectly with patience and unconditional love. I decided that being the perfect mother to her would be my purpose.

And I failed at it. Miserably.

Again and again, I failed.

I was defeated by exhaustion, by grief, frustration and anger at her for being an uncooperative and ungrateful patient, by resentment of anyone who disagreed with me or whom she responded to. I was furious at God (who I wasn’t even sure existed to begin with - but it’s nice to have someone to blame) for putting her (and me ) through this. Selfish. Sure.

I fell apart. And I fell short too. The realization that other people were better at helping her and taking care of her than I was felt like a slap in the face. It stung when sometimes she chose her dad over me, because he was better at comforting her than I was. After everything I’d done for her! To be honest, it was probably the fact that he didn’t need anything from her, the way that I did that made him better at comforting her…

By the end, I was so exhausted and broken, when I couldn’t ‘fix’ her that I became somebody other people had to comfort. I felt so worthless. I sucked at being a therapist, psychiatrist, nurse and counselor. I failed at being an angel. And what a sad excuse for a mother I was. And I apologized to her repeatedly that I had not been better at my “job” of taking care of her. At making her feel better and heal faster.

That was 4 years ago. In retrospect I know that I had it all wrong. My job on this earth was never to become a perfect mother or caregiver. My job was never to fix everything. Or be a perfect anything. My job on this earth has only ever been to learn how to find peace and compassion for others - and myself. Peace about the difficult and nearly impossible dilemma of being human. I don’t know if I ever will, but I have been forced to remind myself again these past few months.

If you feel that you are “failing” too - at being the perfect mother (or father), the perfect wife (or husband) the perfect daughter (or son), the perfect friend...please just stop it! You were never supposed to be the perfect ANYTHING. Your only job is to be present, forgiving and compassionate — starting with yourself. I’m learning that lesson the hard way.

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