(I wrote this piece for the December 2022 newsletter of the California Association of American Mothers, Inc.: https://www.americanmothers.org/)
Did you ever see the Pixar movie Finding Nemo? My favorite part is when Marlin and Dory are hanging onto taste buds on the whale’s tongue, suspended over the dark chasm of the whale’s throat. Dory insists that they need to let go, to fall into the darkness, and that somehow everything will work out even though they don’t understand what is happening. Marlin, filled with fear and convinced that the whale means to eat them, finally manages to let go…and the whale blows them safely out of his blowhole into Sydney Harbor, exactly where they need to go to find Marlin’s son, Nemo.
Perfectionism is rooted in fear, and it often manifests itself as a desire to control people and events. My early days of motherhood were a crash course in letting go of control: childbirth and breastfeeding were radically and painfully different from what I had planned. But a wise healthcare provider told me, “This is a chance to reflect on all of the things that you don’t have control over in parenting.” That wisdom combined with faith in God’s Providence marked a healthy turning point in my healing from perfectionism.
As Christmas approaches and we see images of the Holy Family, perhaps we can find encouragement from the examples of Mary and Joseph, who let go of their own plans* to embrace the plan of Someone who loves us and wants the best for us.
May God bless you and your families this Christmas and always!
*Mary probably did not make “plans of her own” but rather lived in total openness to God’s Plan.