So Close to Perfect

Perfect isn’t real. It’s allusive, subjective, nearly impossible to define. We all know that… but, there’s something, and please tell me you’ve been there… there’s a feeling. A feeling that everything is alright. That I am alright. That’s the feeling I’m chasing. I always have. Be the perfect daughter, the perfect student, the perfect friend, the perfect wife, the perfect therapist, the perfect mother. It’s an admirable thing to pursue, you see, because the feeling is so good.

And about that feeling. The great thing about that feeling is that you don’t even really need to achieve perfect to feel the feeling. You can just be on your way and you feel it. In fact, you can just decide that you’re going to start on the path towards perfect and you might feel it. The problem is that the feeling is quite slippery. Not to worry, continue on the path and you can be sure to feel it again.

Last month, Luca and I were really sick for an entire week. Inevitably, Caleb was gone across the country for work that week. The first day was torturous. I had a sky-high fever and Luca was cranky miserable too. I was filled with dread. I reached-out to some friends for help and was kindly given a care package of saltines and gatorade. Suddenly, things were looking-up. Luca and I were homebound for a week but it was fantastic. It felt like a genuine Staycation. We watched dance documentaries, Thomas the Train, and played with Play Doh. I had nowhere to be and no obligations. Meal prep included heating-up chicken noodle-o’s and drinking kombucha. I lavished in time with God. Life was good. Weird, but good.

For the first time in my life I felt content being home. I’ve never been a homebody. I’ve always been on the go, desperately craving the energy of people. But I didn’t need anyone. I was home with my sweet boy, I felt so connected to God… I was fulfilled. I had that feeling. The feeling that I usually get when I’m striving for perfect. But I wasn’t striving for anything. I was. I just was.

Now I know the feeling I’m so desperately seeking is contentment. It’s a through-and-through reassurance that I am ok, that everything is ok. 

Being sick for a week made me realize that I had too many commitments. I was spreading myself too thin. I was trying to be perfect and I was trying to find fulfillment in people. One of the items on my calendar that hit the chopping block was my beloved Book Club. I didn’t want to say goodbye to it but I felt I nagging at my heart that I needed to take a break. I realized later, after explaining to my friends that I couldn’t continue, that Book Club had been another way for me to strive towards perfect.

You see, Book Club wasn’t a bunch of us girls getting together to gush over the latest romance novel. It was a ‘parenting book’ Book Club. It was another way for me to reassure myself that I was going to do my best to be as perfect of a mom as I could be. I just couldn’t live with myself if I wasn’t.

Back in the day, when I was in therapy, my therapist practically kicked me out. I wanted to keep going, week in and week out, month after month, year after year. He finally had a talk with me. At what point would I be “good enough?” At what point could I just be ok with my imperfection and trust myself? Sure, things were going to come-up, life happens, but now I had the tools within me to be ok. Everything was going to be ok.

This is how it is for motherhood now. I’m realizing that I’ve created a wonderful toolbox. I’ve learned so much and I have amazing friends as resources. When I’m feeling desperate and clueless, I know where to turn. God has provided so much. Now it’s time to relax and enjoy being a mom.

Now I can look back and realize that, at times, my perfectionism was preoccupying me from actually being present. I was reading this blog and that blog. This book and that book. Texting this mom and that mom. Even when I wasn’t physically distracted, I was often mentally distracted. I was so caught-up in becoming who I wanted to be that I couldn’t just stop and enjoy who I was… an imperfectly fantastic mom to the most precious little boy.

My week of quarantine re-connected us. I saw his beauty and mine too. I could see clearly the things I was doing right and the things that needed work. Ironically, what needed work was that I needed to stop working so much. I needed to stop go-go-going so much. We needed more time at home with less rushing and *sigh* I needed less face-glued-to-my-phone time.

Facebook, texting, blog reading, etc… all of it is taking a backseat now. If people think I’m rude for not responding to their texts quickly, so be it. They’ll appreciate my full attention when I am with them. Plus, I’m realizing that time really is flying by. Soon, Luca will be a big brother and I won’t have as much time for him. I want to enjoy these valuable moments before they’re no more.

So far, I can attest that my days feel longer (in a good way). Time feels slower and less pressured. I am able to be more attuned to Luca and my husband. The time I felt like I never had for God is suddenly there and it is a gift every day. This is it. I feel content. Ok… not all of the time, but I sure feel better than I did before. I feel “good enough,” and that my friends, is a wonderful feeling.

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