That Constant Burden of Being Perfect
Hey ya'll! This is a guest post from Malissa Moench of Northern Utah...she is one of our network of Certified GDF Coaches. Please enjoy her wonderful contribution and be sure to leave a comment for her, below! xx Andrea
I came across a quote by Edward Tronick the other day while reading the book Peaceful Parent, Happy Child, by Dr. Laura Markham. It rang true for me and has been bouncing around in my head ever since:
"Only maybe twenty, thirty percent of the time is the interaction 'perfectly' in sync. The rest of the time, you're in sync, you're out of sync, you're getting back into sync. This not being in sync frees up parents from that constant burden of being perfect -- because you can't be perfect. No matter how hard you try, you can't be. When you connect, one of the things that can happen -- not always, but some of the time -- is that you create something new. You figure out a new way to do something together that you've never done before. If you create something new, you grow. And babies are about growing."
And this is precisely what I'd like to talk about today...that constant burden of being perfect.
A rough start to finding peace with EC
I first heard about elimination communication (EC) when I was 8 months pregnant with my first.
A blogger wrote a post about her sister-in-law, who practiced EC with her daughter.
Those cute pictures of mommy holding baby in the classic EC position, and the idea that I could have less messes to clean up while being more environmentally friendly, hooked me. My husband and I were both immediately intrigued.
We felt like, and still feel like, we were meant to find this amazing method.
(Maybe you've felt this way too?)
I started reading up on EC and early toilet training.
As a new (very naïve) mother, I expected that, no matter what, if I worked hard enough and was persistent, my child would be toilet independent by 12 months, easily.
As you can imagine, the next three and a half years found me frequently lying on the bathroom floor in the fetal position, my brain whirling with allllllll the poop and pee misses.
(My first did, and still does, always ensure he is the one in control!)
I was nowhere near perfect at EC, or parenting. I often felt frustrated, angry, and defeated at times.
How things have changed with my new baby
With my new baby, I am giving this EC journey my all...but that looks different now than it did when I only had one brand-new baby.
Back then, that looked like me frantically rushing my son to the toilet whenever a wave of fear came over me that he would have a miss. Again.
Now it looks like putting anxiety aside, staying positive, and giving him time to learn.
Back then it looked like me panicking when he started to have a miss.
Now it looks like me calmly telling him, “Wait. Pee goes in the toilet.”
Back then it looked like frustration.
Now it looks more and more like peace.
Learning and teaching...at the same time
We all have different roads we take as parents practicing elimination communication and early toilet training.
Do you often feel embarrassed or guilty when you aren’t in sync with your child’s EC signals?
According to Edward Tronick's quote, that means you might feel embarrassed about 70% of the time.
Here is your permission to let go of doing EC perfectly, even in front of other people.
Here is your permission to let your child teach you.
Here is your permission to choose peace.
I believe the writer, Robin Dance, said it best: “Perfectionism isn’t a goal of parenting.”
Elimination communication is a process. It's not about perfection. It’s about creating new connections with your child.
This is inherently a messy thing, literally and figuratively.
I promise you that this learning curve is moving in the upward direction.
All you need to do is focus on the learning process, and the teaching process...because you and your child are both learning, and you’re both teaching.
Reminding ourselves that we are safe
If you are going through tough times with EC, like we did, I certainly know what it’s like to feel frustrated and lost and angry with your child’s EC progress.
Regardless of these feelings, know you are safe.
Saying that out loud during the most difficult moments helps to ground me.
I am safe.
Not only are you safe wherever you are on your journey with EC, you are also safe in this community of fellow ECers...fellow parents learning peace and teaching peace.
Take a minute to let this sink in, to think about what you are going to choose. Then....
Please leave a comment, below with what YOUR next step is that will allow you, and your baby, more peace in your EC journey.
Thank you and peaceful ECing! Warmly, Malissa
The beginning of our EC journey was packed with me in high anxiety and feelings of failure, and my baby getting frustrated with me offering too often!! After a month or so I decided to take a step back, only offer when I was ‘sure’ (haha!! How often is that?!), and let myself off the hook quickly when we had misses. Although there are still good and bad days, we are both much easier and happier, and i keep reminding myself of the journey. Thanks for the great post! :)
Wonderful Elizabeth! Thank you so much for sharing your own journey…I am happy that Malissa’s post spoke deeply to you! Be encouraged! xx Andrea
Yes! We ECd our oldest from 6 weeks on, and she was ready to be in undies full time by 20 months….but the road there was not paved with peace. I had a hard time forgiving myself when I would miss a cue, and felt super guilty if I found a soiled diaper. I never remember granting myself the grace and space to find a miss and say “I’m sorry babe – I’m imperfect” this is an imperfect process, but it’s a beautiful journey – for such a great cause of honoring our kids’ intuition and helping them stay clean. With our new babe I feel like I internally celebrate each catch instead of internally mourning the slightly wet diaper or poo-miss. It’s a much more peaceful journey this time around. Wouldn’t do it any other way. EC found us when we were pregnant the first time too – so thankful for that. Best wishes – Kimberly
It is so wonderful you have come to a more peaceful place with EC. Thank you for sharing! xx Andrea
We started EC when baby was 3months. That’s when I first heard about it and decided to give it a go. It seemed like the right thing to do. It was smooth sailing for a couple of months then we had some set backs and I admit I was getting frustrated and counting the misses. We currently went through a potty pause and I feel that this was necessary for me to stop focusing so much on EC and take a step back. I started to do the easy catches and relax during the in between pees. Now we are beginning to learn that pee goes in the potty, not the diaper or the floor and I have been more relaxed and celebrating the catches we do get. He is 10mths now and we are both still learning and I am still learning that this is a process and as such it has to take its course however he feels necessary.
It sounds like you are doing a great job of adjusting as needed with your EC practice. Congratulations on working through the potty pause! xx Andrea
I’m the type of person who hesitates to even begin a task to project unless I know I can complete it on my timeline and “perfectly.” Totally illogical, I know. So I’m constantly having to remind myself that perfect isn’t always necessary and it’s so much better to do and LEARN than to not do at all. Thanks for the reminder!
There is no such thing as perfection! I am so glad you are working on it, it is so stressful being a perfectionist. xx Andrea