Saturday, July 23, 2011

Genuine Perfection

Today was one of those near-perfect summer days, the kind filled with snapshots and memories and awesome things. (The phrase “awesome things” indicates just how badly my writing skills have atrophied...) Among them:

* Walking through a street fair, in the sun under my sky blue “sunbrella,” wearing a polka-dotted sundress and red lipstick, on my way to rehearse my favorite opera.

* Playing with our friends and their beautiful 8-month-old at the amazing Hanover Library. Beaming with pride as the librarians smiled at Henry’s little oohs and aahs as we made our way through the walls of books, picking several to bring home, knowing he will ask us to read them many times.

* Coffee and snacks while catching up with good friends, watching our boys run (slightly wild) through the (practically empty) cafe. 

* Playing peekaboo on the bed with Matt and Henry and surprisingly them both so totally that we all fell in a heap, laughing til we almost cried.

* A delicious meal al fresco: grilled bbq chicken, local squash and tomatoes, baked sweet potatoes with local goat cheese, a cold beer. Henry eating all of it (except the beer) sitting shirtless in his high chair, covered in goat cheese and barbecue sauce by the end of it. We sat together at the table after eating and sang songs and watched Henry learn the difference between the sign for “more” and “again” as he asked to sing “The Grand Old Duke of York” over and over again.

In so many ways, these were little moments of perfection. Instagram-worthy moments that would be proud to be featured on any blog about the life of a young working mother and her family. Summery, happy, healthy. Perfect.

And yet... Isn’t there always more to the story? Today, to be honest, there isn’t much more; it was a pretty great day all around. But I’ve been thinking about this idea of perfection a lot recently. Why is it such a sought after goal?

The reason so many “mommy blogs” rub me the wrong way is the way so many focus on the wonderful, cool, stylish, special things they do with and for their children. That stuff is great, but I always navigate away from those sites feeling a little unworthy. Surely those women don’t have tables covered with clutter, or kitchen sinks constantly filled with food debris. Surely their children put themselves to sleep with no fuss, and they never bite or whine because they can’t play with the iPhone. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they DO, but who talks about that? That stuff is embarrassing, right?

I’m working on getting my head back in the blogging game, but I feel like it’s been taken over with “perfect” blogs, stories of women living perfect lives. My life is amazing, but holy cow is it every far from perfect! I also struggle with the desire to constantly improve my life and that of my family - what to read, wear, eat, do - but instead of finding inspiration, I get so discouraged by all the perfection and just go back to the status quo. That’s my own hang-up, most likely, but I’m getting kind of fed up with feeling unworthy. Let’s have a little more reality, shall we? Instead of Hair Thursdays or the like, how about we all take snapshots of the messiest room of our house and post them every Monday? Or every Friday is “How my child ruined my latest plan to have Me Time” story-sharing. It’s not so much misery-loves-company, because I’m not miserable, but I am real.

There is a parallel here to performing, and maybe I’ll write about it more another time. Now I have to go to bed because my adorable and brilliant son still wakes up 2-3 times a night. But basically, it all boils down to this:

Give me genuine over perfect any day.


Mendel Markel, said...

G.B. Lamperti said that "success breeds stagnation and failure". I know he was talking about the voice but sometimes I think it's true of life in general.

My life is far from "perfect". I don't have the kind of money that allows me to pamper my kids with expensive clothing, vacations and the like. So we settle for imperfect things like driving up to the Catskills to visit their cousins in a mosquito infested bungalow colony, or just taking a trail in the park or (gasp) jumping in puddles. I'm not always as even tempered as I would like to be and trust me neither are my kids lol. But all in all, we enjoy each other and have a great time, even if we're just shopping at Walmart.

But it is that imperfection and that striving to always do better and be better that to me is the beauty of life... a real life... a genuine life, as you put it.

Great post, thanks!

Melissa said...

well-said, ACB! :)

ava said...

I'm so happy to see that you're blogging again! Have you ever come across the blog "nyc taught me"? It's written by a woman with three kids. A lot of it is just a diary of the fun things she does with them in NYC, but at the same time she's also very true and real and self-effacing in a refreshing way. This post is a good example:

ACB said...

Ava, I LOVE that blog! Thanks for sharing. That is exactly what I need to be reading more of. Thank you.

Mendel, thanks for your comments. Maybe you know that Dan Teadt and I are actually good friends! He read at our wedding. You're in good hands!

Jess said...

So good, Burnsy. And so, so true.

I fight this a lot when I write: not so much a reservation to be fully me - with the disorder and procrastination and failure alongside the order and intentionality and wins - but I read too much of others who I am sure are well-meaning, but who leave my head spinning with questions of whether I should clean "it" up or at least do some sort of spit-shine on it all. In the end I'm only comfortable writing in my voice, the real one, but I'm afraid far too much time is spent contemplating (and perhaps even - eek? - comparing) my standing among the women of the blogosphere.

It isn't all this, and it's never all that. There's a sweet spot in the paradox. As you say, that is the "genuine perfection".

I love who you are.

chelsea lee said...

just found you through some other blogs I was perusing and I love your sentiment here. very true that it's hard to keep up with the blogosphere. I am a very erratic blogger and I find that if I blog for me, that's when it's the best!

Wendy Norman said...

I'm right there with you. I refuse to read the "perfect" blogs and I refuse to watch the "perfect - do this with your family" shows.

Always be yourself and never feel less than valuable. "To the world you may be one person. But to one person you may be the world." -- Unknown Author

I happened on your blog by accident, but I hope you keep writing and being a "real" person.

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