Getting there

Getting there

Monday, April 25, 2011

Imperfect Bliss

Last week was Spring Break in our city. This meant my daughter had an entire week off school to sleep in and wear pyjamas all day long, TV blaring and iPhone in hand. We celebrated this past long weekend of Easter quietly, and last night began the preparations for going back to school. A lunch was made and a backpack was packed. This morning she woke up bright and early, had her shower, dressed carefully and did her make-up and hair, and walked out the door. Moments after she left it occurred to me - I hadn't checked the school calendar lately. I thought surely there would be school today even if it is Easter Monday - after all, they had had all last week off! I grabbed my iPad and checked the online copy of the school newsletter and there it was - Easter Monday, No School. I said a very choice few words, grabbed a jacket and shoes, and flew out the door after my daughter.

I found her walking towards me as I raced towards her. She was making noises - crying, I feared. As I grew closer, though, I realized it was laughter. Her first words? "Wow, Mom, you suck!", and we both dissolved into gales of laughter, tears forming in our eyes. I tried to convince her it was a late April Fool's joke, but she is no fool, April or otherwise. I asked if she was mad at me and she said a little, but then hugged me and said not really. We walked down our street laughing and both talking at once - her about walking up to the school and realizing there was no one there except a maintenance truck, and me about my horror on looking at the newsletter and realizing my error.

I think the funniest thing is that not that long ago I would have never forgiven myself for this kind of error. I would have beaten myself up for days for this as I had decided long ago I would be "perfect mom". You know, the mom who always knows what's going on, who has all the answers, and who never gets things wrong. I wanted to be the mom who never disappointed and who never gave cause for anger. Gradually in the last couple of years things have changed, though. I suppose I started to get involved a bit more in my own life and a bit less in hers as she has started to grow up. I suppose I also started to notice that my drive for perfection didn't do me any good as it was an unattainable goal and led to being disappointed in myself. I also noticed that it wasn't doing her any good. Just as I expected perfection of myself she began to expect it of herself, and to express frustration with herself when she was imperfect or made mistakes. It saddened me to see her so hard on herself when it was unwarranted. This was not what I wanted for her, or for me. Things needed to change, and they needed to start with me.

So, this morning when I made a colossal error, I can't tell you how good it was to laugh about it. I certainly felt (and still feel) sheepish about it, but I don't feel I need to blame myself or examine my personal flaws because of it. I think what's even better is that my daughter forgave me in the same way I hope she forgives herself when she makes mistakes and, quite frankly, screws things up like we all do. I suspect somehow that my new acceptance of my imperfections will serve her better than my previous self-loathing of the same imperfections. I know that years from now we will still laugh about the Easter Monday I sent her to school when there was no school, and how we raced towards each other in the chilly air, laughing until we cried. As I write this post she sits and plays the piano, because she knows I love to hear her play, and because an entire unexpected day off now stretches before us. Imperfection may just be bliss, my friends. Embrace it.

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