Today my altared space is joining the ranks of people giving up the quest for perfection. I first saw Terri Hatcher on Oprah where she was talking about the dual roles in her life: the image of stardom and the plain life of motherhood. She opened a discussion about what does it mean to strive for perfection? Then I bumped into The Perfect Protest at Corrine’s.
I am constantly after the perfect photograph, so this exercise in taking the UN-perfect shot was obviously something I should try. My daughter took them for me, and, when I began to giggle at the results, she ambled over from her television watching to see what I was seeing.
First of all, exactly where are my breasts? Now I’m not exactly a well endowed woman but you’d never wonder if I had any at all. Do I always look this schlumpadinka? And, do I have any legs?
My daughter and I were howling with laughter.
Next shot: I point to those pearly whites and my daughter bursts out laughing as do I. “It’s all you see!” I had no idea I meet the world like a buck toothed rabbit.
The laughter rolled around like a healing balm. My daughter never heard a critical word, just jokes we shared as I began to view the sightline she and the other members of our family had on me. This green couch is my space in our household. I do all my writing here. I can be located here almost every morning when my family members arise. So this is their first daily glimpse of me. And I’d just never seen it.
“But you look like Mommy,” said my daughter because she could hear me wondering if I liked that view and then she reminded me of this story.
There was a child who was trying to help his mother choose a dress for going out and the kid chose one and dad asked, “Why that one? Don’t you think Mommy looks prettier in this dress?”
“Yes,” says the child, “But I don’t care about mom looking pretty. I want her to look like Mom.”
The comfort for me was that my daughter brought this up. Mommies are supposed to look like mommies, and that is nurturing. That is a wonderful sight. Authenticity is its own beauty.
Perfection is poison in my house. It makes me uptight and chases away the laughter that so filled my house this day. It makes me eye my kids for the thing they can fix rather than welcome them to the kitchen in the morning eager to let them know I’m glad to share my first meal of the day with them.
But perfection also has an addictive power. Letting go of my desire to be perfect is not something I put on the to-do list and cross off when it’s accomplished. It is a state of mind and, once I’m chasing it, I just want more, more, more.
A dear friend once taught me this phrase: There is no way to Peace, Peace is the way. She said the verb can be replaced with anything. There is no way to letting go of perfection, letting go is the way. I took a step down that path with these hilarious pictures. By outing myself I peel away a layer of that shell that keeps the authentic me penned up in a perfection prison.
I love Terri Hatcher’s phrase, “I’d rather be a remembered authentic mommy” Where love abounds. Image is fleeting and I can’t really feel it. The laughter on my couch this morning penetrated right to the core of my being.
This is why I love having children. By necessity kids teach us to give up the quest for perfection. There isn’t time, between the tying of shoes, the constant feeding and the emotional floodgates that are perpetually open to remain well-dressed and neatly pressed. In place of that quest my kids have given me a bowl of love in which to swim. I just adore bathing there. It’s way better than any perfection I could have achieved.
How about you? Do you chase perfection? Is there a tug of war in your life between perfection and authenticity? Where do you find your spot where people glimpse the imperfect you and fall in love with someone beneath the well groomed hair?