Letting Go of Perfect
My name is Natalie, and I might possibly, maybe, probably be described as having a perfectionist personality. There I’ve said it. I like things to be ordered, I like things to be done “right”, I like rules, I follow rules. I know how boring this sounds, but these things bring me comfort and dare I say they would be the secret recipe for world peace – “Righto listen up everybody, no more fighting everyone, OK?” Simple, sorted.
But then I had my beautiful child, Maddy. I tried to make her work to my schedule but I slowly realised that it was easier and more satisfying to work to hers. And then Fred came along, and I faced the age-old dilemma of trying to fit in the second child to an already functioning household. And then Katie arrived, and I felt like someone had thrown a hand-grenade into our house, and I had to all but duck for cover. You’re getting my drift, right? So I am sure you can imagine just how it must have felt when number 4, Lucy arrived.
Schedules are out the door, people eat when they are hungry, sleep when they are tired, cry when they are hurt, and laugh when they are happy. Everything about my day is suddenly reduced to the fundamental needs of my children. So my poor Type A personality, had to quietly bite my tongue, slowly count to ten, and realise that the next 20-30 years of my life would no longer be about “me”. There was no “right” way to do things, nor a right time, or even a right person to do it. It is just about things being done when they have to be, by the best person to do it at the time.
So I inhaled, counted my blessings, crossed my fingers and then let go of perfect……and for the first time in a long time…. I exhaled.
Today Katie thought she would help me with the washing up. Her little 2-year-old self, went off to get the wooden step and set it up next to me at the sink. As I washed the dishes, and passed her the clean plates to put on the draining rack, I explained carefully my instructions on how to place cups upside down, and plates vertical in the slots. For all she heard, I could have been discussing nuclear economics of the wool trade in Slovakia, as she plonked the dishes in willy nilly wherever she felt like it.
It took all my restraint not to “fix” each dish or cup that she put down. And by the end of the washing up I had a stack piled so high that the very last cup teetered precariously on the pile of plates and bowls. Proudly she announced that she was “allllllllllll done”, and looked up at me with her beautiful smiling eyes. I gave her a kiss and a cuddle, and continued to fight the feeling of the need to “fix” her rather dubious plate construction. Then she climbed down from her step, and sang “Thanks for letting me help you, Mum. I’m a great helper for you aren’t I?”
Suddenly I saw that pile of dishes for what it was. My beautiful little girl wanting to show me what a grown up and valuable member of the household she had become. She had wanted to help me. Not because I asked, or because I needed her to. But simply because she wanted to.
Thank you, Katie, for helping me see a little piece of your perfection in a pile of frothy dishes.