When I was a newlywed, my expectations for myself and my home were very high. See if you identify with any of these expectations I placed on myself:
- I was certain that in order to maintain a good home, I must have matching hand towels, bath towels, and wash clothes
- These all had to be lined neatly in my linen closet and most certainly out for guests.
- If laundry was visible anywhere when people were coming over, or dishes were piled in the sink, then those were signs I was utterly falling behind.
Do I sound like a frustrated perfectionist or a typical Type A personality? Undoubtedly, the answer is yes.
Thirteen years later, I have micro-evolved into a different, subtly less unrealistic and more attainable homemaking mantra.
Why the change?
Simply put, I grew older. I adapted to my husband, and assimilated a bit of his more patient and realistic expectations. I became a parent. I experienced more of the world and talked and played with children who have far less and have lived through far more. For example, I spent a week with children who live on a trash dump in Tegucigalpa, Honduras—they would be happy to have clean towels let alone towels that are pattern and color coordinated or otherwise.
I may have let go of a few unnecessary expectations of myself, but I still have much to learn and relinquish. So, what can we Type A’s embrace as we lay down the golden calf of unattainable perfection and unrealistic expectations?
Here are 5 things Type A women can embrace in order to live more at peace with ourselves and with others:
1. Embrace Simple.
When entertaining, keep it simple sister. For example, when throwing a party use evite. For years my southern heritage and Type A personality screamed in unison, “Send a beautifully crafted, calligraphy addressed invitation to all social gatherings.” (Okay, so no calligraphy, but at least a printed address label.) Then with the next breath, “How will I ever get those invitations done?” Embrace the simplicity of the evite and save the super fancy for those once in a lifetime gatherings. Similarly, relinquish the pressure to send Christmas cards every year. It may be something we desire to do, and if so, fabulous! However, let’s not make it a holiday requirement.
2. Embrace Assistance.
Type A women can feel easily overwhelmed at all the needs of entertaining, raising a family, and balancing it all. We must learn to ask for help. As Type A’s we are more likely to complain about a situation than seek assistance. For example, when it comes to family get -togethers, I occasionally feel overwhelmed and “Martha prone” because of all the moving parts of feeding more than our usual party of four for dinner. Recently we had some family coming over and on the day of no one had offered to help with the dinner. As I complained, my husband simply called the guests and asked, “Can you grab some ice and cups on your way over?” Being vocal about our needs can diminish our stress level and enable more enjoyment of the time we share with others.
3. Embrace a Slower Pace.
Whether hiking the Grand Canyon or shopping at Costco, Type A’s like to get to the final destination and get there as fast as possible. This lesson is hard for us to learn: life is not a race. We Type A’s tend to rush everywhere. We loathe waiting in line almost as much as we hate being wrong! Efficiency is wonderful in many areas of life; however, enjoyment comes with savoring certain moments and embracing the present without rushing into the future. Pause, breathe deep, and look around, we can’t recapture the moments of now. Occasionally, we will benefit if we embrace a slower pace.
4. Embrace Mistakes.
Let’s be honest, Type A people hate being wrong or performing below expectations. Perhaps it is mostly attributed to the feeling that we (right or wrong) care deeply about what other people, at least certain people, think about us. Our desire to “get things right” can sometimes be paralyzing. We want to wait until we have acquired professional level knowledge and expertise before we pursue a cause or carrier we are passionate about. However, it is by doing that we gain experience and knowledge to become professionals in any given field. We must embrace that we are going to make mistakes in word and deed and get on with it. As Type A’s, we will likely learn from those mistakes and not make them twice. Let go of some of the performance pressure and embrace the mistakes as they come.
5. Embrace Clutter.
We must embrace clutter. Just reading the word may be enough to send some of us over the edge. We can’t stand for things to pile up: paper, laundry, dishes, toys…you name it. Type A’s motto most certainly includes, “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” However, clutter is a part of living. There is always going to be a pile of something, a junk drawer accumulating, and a stack of miscellany that requires order. The sooner we embrace a bit of clutter the faster we can breathe easier. Some piles can wait.
In the words of Doctor Seuss, "Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." The people who matter most in our lives don't mind our children’s self-chosen mix-match outfits, a small pile of laundry on the bed, and towels that don’t match all the time...although maybe that continues to be nice for guests.
People gravitate toward other people because of companionship and encouragement, because of the way their lives reflect the love of Christ; not because of homes and lives which ooze polished perfection. Whether it is people in our family, church family, or more specifically, the lost friends and coworkers we are witnessing to, our aim is to point more towards Christ and less towards self (John 3:30). The pursuit is more authenticity, not wearing ourselves out to portray a life similar to glossy magazine images. Even as we seek to work at all things as unto the Lord, we can rest in the assurance that working as unto the Lord is not the same as working to Pinterest perfection.
Those are five things that I suggest we Type A women embrace. What would you add to this list? I can’t wait to hear what you have to offer to the discussion.
Brooke Cooney is a pastor's wife, mother of two, and foster-mom of one. To capture the eternal in the everyday, she blogs about family, faith, and lessons along the journey at ThisTemporaryHome.com.