During the past couple weeks, Charlie and I have been trying to get outside as much as possible before the cold weather gets here and during these outings there have been one or two moments where people will make kind comments about what a “nice family” we have, or one instance, where I was riding my bike alongside Charlie, who was running with Jameson in the stroller, a man passed by us and commented that we were “a Norman Rockwell painting.”
He was just being nice, and while the angry German man who lives inside my head and hates everything I write is shouting at me right now: “You OVER-analyze EVERYTHING!” … still, this comment made me pause. Did I love hearing we resembled an idealistic picture families should aspire to? Sure. Did I cringe inside knowing how much I detest people who are seemingly “perfect” on the outside? Yeppers.
The comment pestered me because me and “perfect” don’t get along so well. Me and “perfect” tend to drive my husband crazy (as I follow him around the house picking up his cups/work paraphernalia/ shoes almost immediately after he sets them down). Me and “perfect” have done damaging things to my heart and mind. Me and “perfect” went into the bathroom at work and cried after someone wrote me an epically mean letter about how my grammar was so bad they thought I should choose a new profession.
I try not to spend too much time with “perfect.”
When I meet others who aren’t fans of “perfect” I tend to cling to them. It’s like radar, I sense it immediately when someone else is more, what I consider to be, “real.” The kind of person who will laugh when you tell them you ate an entire bag of snack-size peppermint patties for lunch and “felt totally fat.” They don’t care you actually checked a celebrity gossip website to find out if Kate Middleton was showing yet. They won’t judge when you tell them you spent the day in your pajamas or when they see you pick up the pacifier that fell onto the floor for the 2,456th time and wipe it off on your shirt and give it back to the baby (I did this once in front of a lactation consultant after it fell onto a carpeted floor and she literally grabbed the pacifier out of Jameson’s hand and said “Well we’re not going to do that!)
Disclaimer: There is a difference between being “real” and just being negative. I’m a huge fan of being honest but I don’t think it’s fair to “dump” all your bad mojo on people.
I went to a moms meeting at my church and one of the pastor’s wives talked about how there was nothing more refining than becoming a parent because at times, you see yourself at your worst. She said: “I learned that I wasn’t God.” I almost stood up and did a little cheer, because honestly, I think we’re all trying to be perfect, or God-like, even if we don’t talk about it or fess up. And here was someone talking about how futile that (not-so-secret) mission really is…
Which brings me to our family photo. We picked a rural area that was beautiful, but also infested with mosquitoes. We didn’t get the couch cushions situated right before we snapped the shot of Jameson. I was too busy flapping the bugs away from the baby to care about smoothing my hair down so it didn’t look crazy. In summation, it didn’t turn out exactly as we had planned.
Later, when I went through the photos Charlie took, at first I concentrated on what I perceived as flaws, everything I didn’t consider to be “perfect” (about me mostly) Me, miss-i’m-so-real-and-down-to-earth, wanting to photoshop in smooth hair and my pre-baby toned arms.
My hope for myself (and frankly, my daughter) is that I learn to harness this desire to be “perfect” into a force for something positive. Because when I think about living unsatisfied as a woman because my hair, or clothes, or body type is not someone’s idea of perfection, it just seems, well, stupid. But when I approach it as a Christian, to live unsatisfied may not be so bad, because I find that even when I’m thinking of how great I’m doing, I can always do better. We can always show more kindness, more patience, more forgiveness, and more love when we interact with each other.
Or at least I know I can, maybe you’re perfect.