Monday, October 18, 2010

Practically Perfect is Good Enough

I suffer a bit from being a perfectionist. Ok, a lot. Or, perhaps it’s not me, but the people around me who suffer most. I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that even though I know it’s insane, I will reorganize the dishwasher so that it’s done my way, which, of course, is the right way and therefore, the only way. On the odd occasion that my husband puts the kids' laundry away, instead of simply saying thank you, I’m prone to point out where things should have gone. I encourage all five kids to line up their shoes in perfect pairs and at times, can't resist laying out matching socks and underwear with their outfits -- just as I liked to wear mine when I was a kid… perhaps that’s where this all began.

I thought that having triplets would cause me to loosen up, to let go a little, to lower my standards or perhaps more aptly put, become a lot less anal!  But, alas, it’s not to be. The triplets and the daily challenge of juggling five kids five and under have really just upped the ante on my naturally perfectionist streak. I aspire to be like Mary Poppins – “practically perfect in every way.” I’ve even been known to sing “A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down!” and say “Spit spot!” with a kind (although admittedly forced!) Mary Poppins smile as I hurry my kids along.

All that said, I know my yearning for perfection is extreme and has a fair share of downsides. I didn’t quite realize it until we went on our annual quest for the perfect pumpkin last weekend … an annual quest that is the traditional warm-up for the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree. As we ambled about the pumpkin patch with the camera clicking on a crisp fall day, I overheard some other insane Mom say to her kid “Put that one back. It’s all dented and dirty.” To which the kid whined back “but Mom, it doesn’t have to be perfect!”

So perfectly said and so absolutely true. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Whatever "it" may be. I let my Imperfect Poppins relax a bit after hearing that and, while I know it won’t last, I want to remember that kid’s voice in my ear because it could well be the voice of one of my own children. “Mom, it doesn’t need to be perfect.”

It was with this in mind that I went to bed last night before straightening the rug on the living room floor and with Legos still strewn on the coffee table. This morning, I tried not to flinch when my daughter rejected the matchy-matchy outfit I laid out and went with a funky look of her own. And when my oldest pleaded, “but Mom, I don’t WANT A shirt with a collar”, I said ok. Ok.

While my perfectionist, uptight ways are good for keeping everyone on a schedule, clothes in the right drawers and getting us out the door on time (most of the time!), I also know they can be overwhelming and overly controlling. And, I know that I really don’t want to hear my kids making public pleas for imperfection. So, I’m going to resolve to be better about accepting "good enough" versus  uncompromising perfection and, as a starting point, I have several very lop-sided pumpkins on the porch to prove it!

(NOTE: We picked our pumpkins at Stuart's Farm in Granite Springs, NY, about an hour north of NYC and highly recommended for family fun and, great donuts!

1 comment:

Mommy Lauren said...

I reorganize the dishwasher and line up shoes, too...You mean that "normal" people don't do those things?!?!