the perfect protest

by rebecca on November 11, 2010

Post image for the perfect protest

          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?

Be Sociable, Share!

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Lindsey November 11, 2010 at 8:44 am

Love this!!! My friend got her hair straightened and by all accounts it looked lovely, but when her kids saw her, her two boys (5 and 7) both looked at her suspiciously and her baby started crying. They just wanted her to look like Mom. xox

Reply

TheKitchenWitch November 11, 2010 at 10:22 am

Fellow perfectionist, here. I love your sign…and the picture…and the quest.

Reply

rebecca November 11, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Lindsey,

Fascinating how we drive ourselves crazy to chase down the beauty title and those that we love the most just want us to look like ourselves.

Reply

rebecca November 11, 2010 at 12:07 pm

TKW
Glad to know I’m not alone.

Reply

Corinne November 11, 2010 at 12:15 pm

You are beautiful 🙂
And I love everything about this post…
(I’ll have to remember that phrase about peace being the way, and apply it all over the place!)

Reply

rebecca November 11, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Corinne,

Truly, thank you for the inspiration. Once I read this at your home it was like the message of perfection-surrender was coming at me from all corners. It was a blissful blanket of “welcome home” that led me, finally, to write. Thank you so dearly for going there to pave the way for me.

Reply

Eva @ EvaEvolving November 11, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I LOVE the pictures of you! I love how cozy you look, and so happy. I’d love to join you sitting on that couch, drinking some tea and just chatting.

I’ve just discovered Brene Brown a few weeks ago, but hadn’t found the Perfect Protest links. Wow! I love this idea. And I love your perfect protest, Rebecca. Better to look like a Momma than a Perfect (nonexistent) woman. Such a compliment from your daughter, that you look just like you!

Reply

Yvette Francino November 13, 2010 at 11:14 pm

This post made me chuckle, imagining you and your daughter laughing at the photos. Once again, you examine a delicate balance… this time between perfection and authenticity.

Yes, I suppose the tug of war is always there… maybe for me it shows up most with my house! It seems like it’s always messy and I’m always worried that others will see it and judge me for the clutter. But I try to remember that most people are more at ease with someone “real” rather than “perfect.”

Reply

Amber November 13, 2010 at 11:20 pm

I absolutely love the photos in this post. As well as the message.

Of course I chase perfection. I tell myself I don’t, but in reality I’m still coping with my perfectionist attitude. Even my appearance receives unrealistic expectations. I can’t change certain features–like my acne scars–but I still feel unworthy when I see them. Silly, silly. My kids love me for me, not for someone I think I should look like.

Reply

rebecca November 14, 2010 at 11:44 am

Amber,

I must confess I don’t remember my struggle with acne super much. I think I must have exited my body during that era. No big surprise as it is an interesting era. However, I have two teenagers now. They both have complained about the acne thing. Adolesence is such an uber cool time: so teeming with life and exploration, that it is no wonder that a kid’s face with pop up with a few marks from time to time. And, of course the zits appear when they are MOST stressed, just when they least want them. But I try to point out that their body is simply talking to them. Almost a little confirmation that “yes, I’m feeling the pain you are imagining. It’s real.” And then, like magic, they plunge into a new phase of who they are meant to be. Like the toad before becoming the prince or something. It’s a truly beautiful transformation. Like Grace. I see these scars as badges of courage as to how much spiritual and emotional growth you did during that phase of your life. I wonder if, when you watch your children go through it, it will soften your own attitude.

Reply

rebecca November 14, 2010 at 11:51 am

Yvette,

Aha! You’ve caught me. When cropping the photos I was tempted to crop out the clutter on my couch. But then I said to myself…”Um, I think the idea of this post is to lean IN to the authentic me.” Clutter is a part of that. I feel better when it’s under control, no doubt. But I never feel caught up. I’m a hamster in that wheel.

And you are oh-so-right. I have more friends when I am real rather than perfect. Thanks for the confirmation.

Reply

Kate November 14, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Perfection is a fine trap. In my house, it is something that keeps me from action, since it won’t be perfect. And I have a dialogue every day with the me who wants to be (but isn’t) perfect.

Even so, I wish I had well groomed hair more often…

Thanks for your comment and for visiting me (yes, the double meaning of Joy thrilled me for that post). I can’t wait to read more of your writing.

Reply

rebecca November 14, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Kate,

I totally get it. My hair is obviously a problem. And I have the same dialogue on a myriad of subjects. Can I just say that naming your daughters Joy and Grace is just about the most beautiful thing I’ve heard all week!

Reply

SuziCate November 16, 2010 at 7:55 am

Atruly lovely post. Yes, I’d rather be mom or me than any form of perfection…there is no peace in the pursuit of perfection. Love what your friend said… i will try to remember that.

Reply

rebecca November 16, 2010 at 8:32 am

SuziCate,

“There is no peace in the pursuit” I think that’s it. I can stop there. The peace that passes understanding is available now. And it is in the accepting rather than the pursuing that I will recieve. I think that’s why I feel peaceful when I go along on your adventures. It’s a very now kind of moment.

Reply

Louise January 26, 2011 at 12:41 pm

I would so much rather be authentic than present some artificial perfection! I was embarrassed once, in college, when a friend told me he would remember me best for my “hyper laugh.” That was not how I wanted to be remembered – I wanted to be remembered for my erudition, my deep insights, or even my passion for writing! It took a few years before I could shrug it off. Honestly, now I’d rather be remembered for being joy-filled and unafraid to show it than just about anything else (except loving. Always want to be remembered for that). And I want my kids to grow up knowing it is better to be authentic than try to fit into some mold someone else sets up.

Reply

rebecca January 26, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Louise,

Can I relate to this. I once had people change seats in a theatre because they wanted to move away from my loud laugh. I’ll catch myself sometimes and try to stiffle it. But what does it say about me? I’m bubbling with happiness. What a better way to be known?

Reply

Cancel reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: