Today I am having one of my favorite writers here to share her beautiful and always powerful message. Tricia’s posts will find their way into your heart as she has a gift of painting pictures of parenting with gorgeous words and themes. If you haven’t yet read Tricia’s blog, you simply must. She is a constant source of inspiration. Her perspective will always touch a part of you~promise! Have I ever steered you wrong? I know a good heart when I see one and combining a good writer with a good heart? Perfectly Tricia.
I had just finished braiding her hair. “Anna style” more-or-less by request. I say more-or-less because she’d really prefer “Elsa style.” But while I’m pretty handy with a brush and she has really lovely hair, we all have our limits. She was smiling and showing it off and my husband and I both told her she looked cute. “But, you know, you’re not just cute.” My husband went on. (Because, yes, we’ve read the books and the articles. And because our girl is so much more than cute.) “I know!” (four-year-olds speak with omnipresent exclamation points) “What’s better than cute?” “Perfect!” Umm… uh oh. I’m a recovering perfectionist. Recovering. In progress. And there is progress.
Actually, I had thought there had been quite a lot of progress. I’ve worked hard to eliminate the word ‘perfect’ from my vocabulary, especially in her presence. I don’t ask that she be perfect. I don’t talk of striving for perfection. And a passing glance around this house would tell you that not only do I not talk of striving, but I also don’t actually strive either. Most days we’re just holding on and riding the wave. Perfect isn’t even on the menu. But do you know what’s crazy? That word. That one little word, it sneaks in. And as I began to think more about how quickly that word spilled out of her little mouth, I realized how often it sneaks out of mine. A friend suggests that we meet up tomorrow at the park. My response: Perfect!
I meet my girl at the door and she’s already there with shoes and a jacket and she’s ready to go. My remark: Perfect!
I’ve got my fingers woven into her hair and I really want to create the perfect Anna braid and though I’ll keep my desires for my own perfection to myself when she starts to wiggle, I remind her to: Sit perfectly still!
Perfect. There it is. There it is everywhere.
And without ever intending to, while intending just the opposite, in fact, I’m passing it on to her. Along with my smile and the shape of my face and my introversion and my love of painted fingernails, I’m passing on my aspirations for perfection.
And, of course, she is just four. She will still draw half a picture and call it done. Her room is not perfectly clean; her clothes never on perfectly straight, and, by the end of the day, that Anna braid is far from perfectly sitting on top her head. Mess and chaos and things slightly off-kilter don’t bother her. So far, she strives to be just who she is. Perfectly her, in all of her glorious imperfections.
And it’s because of her that I’m recovering. In four short years, she’s shown me the beauty that lies outside of the tight constraints of perfection. The beauty in the clean laundry that sits for days, wrinkling more by the minute, because we couldn’t help but dash off to the park instead of staying inside to fold it. The beauty in ridiculously small and oddly shaped muffins that are that way because she wanted to help and, in probably my wisest decision of the day, I let her. The beauty in waking up each day and trying so hard to be the best mommy to her that I can be, all the while knowing that I’ll never be perfect at it. And knowing that I don’t need to be. Because she loves me anyway.
She loves me anyway.
And because of her grace and her love, I don’t need to be perfect. I just need to be perfectly me, teaching her that perfect is nothing more than a silly word I say sometimes. It’s not a thing to strive for. It’s not a thing to be, because it’s not a thing we could ever be.
And it certainly isn’t better than cute.
Tricia is a freelance writer, wife, and mother of two.
Her blog, Raising Humans, is about those parenting moments – the good and bad, the beautiful and sometimes ugly – when we realize that we are all growing together.
You can find Tricia on Facebook and Twitter.