THE BLOG

Perfect Moms Don't Poop

10/31/2012 05:31 pm ET | Updated Dec 31, 2012

Earlier this week, hubby and I sat down with our daughter's teacher for her first kindergarten evaluation. Hubby was nervous. I was focused.

I listened intently, if somewhat impatiently, during the first part of the teacher's spiel. My kid's a sponge, curious, likes math, etc. OK, good, you know her, I thought. Now let's get to the good stuff. Tell me what my kid is doing wrong so 1) I can fix it and 2) I can affix blame to either hubby or myself.

When she finally revealed to us that my daughter is a precocious student in the school of perfectionism, I wanted to spontaneously rip off my shirt, charge down the hallway and fall down on my knees like soccer player Brandi Chastain did when the U.S. women's team won the World Cup back in 1999. My daughter's Achilles heel is that she doesn't like messing up, meaning she becomes simultaneously frustrated and reluctant to ask for help when she needs it. Whew! Clearly hubby, with his stickler tendencies, is responsible for this wee little shortcoming. I am the slacker, so therefore I win!

With a big smile on my face, hubby and I picked up our daughter and headed out to the car. As we strapped ourselves in, I couldn't help but give hubby a few supportive yet pleased "it's you and not me" glances. Then I happened to see my daughter in the rearview mirror and noticed that she looked like she had just stuck her finger in a light socket. "Ugh," I said, dismayed that she had looked so disheveled at school all day. "We have got to do something about that hair, immediately."

Oh shit, I thought, as the light bulb went off above my head. My daughter's struggle to be free of flaws may not be coming from hubby after all. Is it (big gulp) possible that I'm the nitpicking perfectionist of the family?

My mind raced. First, it raced to the bathroom or, more specifically, to the things that I do in the bathroom. For the 10 years I've been with my husband, I have never let him see me pee or poop, except for the day or so after I pushed a big baby out of my vagina. And that doesn't count because I was on major painkillers and had Preparation H pads sticking out of my ass.

I think I have farted a maximum of four times around him during our decade-long relationship, and only because they fell out accidentally. Just this morning, after I took a little trip to the bathroom, I wouldn't even let him in there afterward lest he smell anything stinky. And you know how sometimes you go to the bathroom and a little something gets left behind? If that ever happened to me with hubby, I would not be able to look him in the eye. Ever.

Then I thought about work. I thought about how horribly I berate myself when I notice an error in an email, proposal or essay. When I say something boring or stupid on a conference call. When after an in-person meeting I notice food in my teeth or boogers in the corners of my eyes. When I don't land a client. When an article I published gets an "eh" response. When I go on TV and think my arms look fat or that I sound like an idiot.

At each of those moments, do I say, "Whatever, Wendy, you're human. We all make mistakes"? No. Instead I say, "You nincompoop. Why couldn't you do better?" Actually, I usually say, "You f*cking idiot. What the hell is wrong with you?" But I'm such a perfectionist that I'm afraid to tell you that inside my head I swear in a way that would make Gordon Ramsey blush.

So where, I wonder, is my dear daughter getting the flaw phobia from? Is it from her dad, who has a pretty healthy outlook on life and a gentler reaction when confronted with his own imperfections? Or, more likely, is it from her mom, who is constantly angry at herself for not being smarter, thinner, more successful, more laid back, more ambitious, more content, less reactionary and less oversensitive? Hmm ... that's a tough one.

If it's true that the first step to resolving an issue is to acknowledge that you have one, then that's what I'm doing now. So get ready, friends, for mess-ups, blunders, farts, eyebrows out of place, spittle when I speak, rolls that hang out over my mom jeans, bad dinners, a messy house, bad grammar, bad breath and more. I've got a little girl who needs a role model, someone to show her that we're all imperfect. And dammit, it's the one job I gotta get right. Or wrong. Oh shit. Here I go again.