Perfection is…surrendering to imperfection

Author: natalie  //  Category: It's all about me

What’s your idea of perfection? April in southeast Texas makes me pause and feel that I’ve gotten pretty close to the elusive standard. (Yes, I ordered last week’s weather. You know where to send the check.) I all but refuse to be cooped up indoors this time of year, and that’s fitting nicely into my plan of learning to accept life’s many flaws.  While I’m out of the house, the imperfections pile up along with the laundry. Hey, practice makes perfect.

For me, the concept of perfection is constantly evolving. Marriage, children, a dog, a home, and all the unexpected that goes along, has made me realize that perfection is more closely achieved in the form of rolling with the tide, and letting go of some pretty silly notions of what’s “supposed to be”.  Things are much easier when I’m not going against the grain, and it’s a life lesson I’m gladly learning. I only wish I’d caught on sooner.

As I inch my way to becoming a fully-reformed perfectionist, I worry that I’m succumbing to lower standards, and that the proverbial pendulum will swing me into chaos. Thanks to Martha Stewart, and her ilk, I’ve spent many years feeling like the world would come to a screeching halt if my bath towels were not folded “just so”. (Raise your hand if you’ve re-folded towels because the kids didn’t do it “right”.) Now, I feel pride in my hard-earned mental fortitude as I cram the towels in the closet willy-nilly. Heck, months ago, I wouldn’t have even used the phrase “willy-nilly”. I call that progress!  

I’ve made recent efforts to reduce the effects of my dysfunction on my children, but I’m afraid it’s too late for the oldest. At the ripe old age of six, his kindergarten teacher told me there was no hope for him. Unfortunately, he’s the first-born of two first-borns. As a teen-aged boy, it outwardly appears he has deflected the awful trait, but I see it. Perfectionism has a close cousin in procrastination. I get a taste of it almost daily, sense his frustration, and because I’ve been there, I know he’ll not start what he doesn’t think he has the time to do well. The guilt is tremendous as I realize he’ll probably be close to forty before he “gets” that it’s okay not to do everything to perfection.

 My younger son, the middle child, is a definite subscriber to the “good enough” standard. Gosh, I wish I could be more like him. He’s my unwitting teacher, and a true inspiration to someone who spent too many years agonizing over details that just don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

As if having a first-born perfectionist mom wasn’t bad enough, I married a fellow first-born perfectionist. First-borns don’t typically do well married to each other, but honestly I don’t know who else could stand either one of us.  Mostly our “tendencies” cohabit peacefully as we’re fussy about different issues…and as Martha would say, “That’s a good thing.”

We’re in for another round of beautiful weather this week, and I’ll be outside…practicing imperfection.

© 2008 Natalie Whatley





Leave a Reply