Waiting for perfection to arrive, we sacrifice. We sacrifice without knowing. We sacrifice daily. We lose out to the unattainable leaving ourselves frustrated and stressed in the pursuit. Is this the road trip we want to take in life? One of the things I love most in life is an unplanned road trip. Maybe it is just another paradox of my life. I love the unexpected but I want to plan the unexpected. I don’t want it to creep up on me in my sleep. I try to constantly find ways to control my daily existence. Strange, I know. But I am human and I do. And isn’t that what control is all about? Wanting a world to respond in perfect order. Like all the time. 24/7. I sacrifice everyday in small ways and large as a slave to perfection. Chances are perfection is pulling you away from the very thing you want most out of life. Waiting for perfection to arrive:
We sacrifice the present moment. I have lost too many present moments with my family to the perpetual to-do list in my head. Rather than be completely immersed in a game of Uno or Candyland with my children I play half-distracted by what remains undone. I try to ignore the laundry lying quietly on the couch that waits to be folded. I attempt to look away from the pile of dirty dishes that scream with our morning’s leftover yolks but I cannot. I am pulled away from the present moment by what awaits me in the future moment. Each thought chasing another into the emptiness of perfection. I no longer want to sacrifice the here and now with my small children. Because they are here now. The present deserves my full attention and seeking perfection only serves to diminish my joy.
We sacrifice our family’s emotional health. Looking for perfection in the behavior of children is unfair and impossible and excruciating to the person who requires it. Accepting our children will make mistakes; will screw up; will not respond appropriately at each intersection to which they arrive allows parents to remain flexible. Learning to appreciate the imperfection in our children creates a space for us parents to do the same with ourselves. Filling the narrow chasm between perfection and imperfection with gratitude, acceptance and awareness will create unshakable ground for a child to build emotional stability. No one wants to build their emotional framework on a fault line. When we push perfection on children we are ushering them closer and closer to an earthquake. Unless you can adequately handle the aftershocks, I encourage all parents to step back from the cataclysmic pressure.
We sacrifice building healthy relationships. Too many of us steer clear of building relationships with our children, our family, our friends out of fear that we are not enough. We don’t invite friends over for playdates because our house isn’t clean enough. We don’t call struggling family members because we are afraid we may not say the right thing so we avoid. We don’t fully engage in our relationships because we see ourselves not worthy. If only we made more money. If only our house was more of a mansion. If only we were a little thinner and our jeans fit just a little nicer then we could take a family picture then we could meet for drinks then we could invite the person over to our house. We create barriers with our thoughts. We don’t see ourselves as perfectionists but how many of us live in this manner? Waiting and waiting to be a little more perfect before we allow another in. People want to connect. People really don’t care if your jeans are a little too tight because guess what? Their jeans are squeezing them too. And if they look better in jeans I can assure you there is something else that isn’t quite right. Because aren’t we all a little off? Isn’t that what is great about us? We are all walking around just a little bit tilted. Projecting perfection doesn’t make it so.
We sacrifice what we value. Chasing perfection gets in the way of our values. If we value living simply but we feel we have to have X,Y, and Z to look as if we are living simply then we are more concerned about perfection and not about our values. If we value our family and friends most but we spend little time connecting with them and more time connecting with our cleanliness then you got it… we are sacrificing our values to perfectionism. See how this grabs us and steals our core without our acknowledgement and consent? We have to stop the illusion. We have to call it what it is – thievery. Because perfection robs us. And it robs us of what is most important which is the imperfect.
We sacrifice the imperfect. The imperfect is secretly what we all desire. We want the relationships with all their faults. We want the small children and their naughty behavior. We want the emotional health left to blossom rather than quake. We want the values left to steer rather than detract. We want the flowers masked as weeds to remind us beauty is present in our children and in each of us as we already are.
The flowers my 3 year-old boy gave me this week. When I asked him why he kept picking these flowers for me he was happy to answer: “Because they are beautiful and I know they make you so happy.”
Another lesson for me from one of my children – Find beauty in the imperfect.