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Letting Go of Perfect (Kicking and Screaming)


I’m weirdly particular about certain things.  Making the bed, for instance, cannot be done by anyone but me.  Dave has learned not to even try to help because he cannot possibly do it  to my standards.  The sheets have to be stupidly smooth and tucked in all around. and the coverlet cannot have a single lump or wrinkle.  I’ve been known to NOT make the bed at all if I don’t have time to do it right.

And folks, this used to be the way I was about most things in my life.  I’d not do them at all if I couldn’t do them perfectly.  Which, as you might imagine, meant that a LOT of things in my life went undone.

Ah, but then I went and had myself some children.  And nothing will beat the perfectionism out of you like a couple of kids.  They are not perfect, and they are an intense mirror to reflect all the ways that their parents aren’t perfect either. Giving up on a perfectly clean, perfectly decorated house was hard for me.  Being an introverted homebody means that I draw my strength and comfort from my nest.  Yet my “nest” wasn’t magazine photo perfect anymore because: children.

It got me down for a while.  Years, really.  And then, like lots of things, time softened me.  And I began to accept some of the imperfection.  I also learned tricks to control kid clutter.  All the things normal moms do.

This year, in another tiny step toward an intentionally imperfect happiness, I wrapped all of the Christmas gifts in plain brown craft paper then let Paige go to town with her Christmas stamps.  It’s, um, well, it’s not the kind of pristine gift wrapping you might expect from Bloomingdales.  But it’s adorable.  And it makes her insanely happy to personalize each gift with her beautiful mess. The rational part of me loves it, but the perfectionist smouldering deep inside still has a tiny twitch.

I also let Paige put the stamps on the Christmas cards this year.  They’re like stickers, so she thought it was excellent fun.  I knew they wouldn’t be placed perfectly in the upper right corner.  I figured they’d be misaligned and wonky, but hey, I’m laid back, right? Yes!

Instead she tried to get them juuuuust right in the corner and ended up needing to fold them over the edges.  I won’t lie, this made my teeth itch a little.

So I went and made the bed.  Perfectly.  And I felt a better.

Author: Rita Ortloff

highly caffeinated mother of two. part-time homeschooler and marketing manager. full-time wife and mother. lover of books, the ipad, and any animal with fur. hater of spiders and spanx.

2 thoughts on “Letting Go of Perfect (Kicking and Screaming)

  1. I am EXACTLY the same way about the bed. I knew there was a reason I like you so much.

  2. I have let ALLOT of stuff go since we were married and more since we got the boys. I love a nice tight bed, but since Bryan does it every morning that’s one thing off my list (and it doesn’t look that bad). I surprise myself some days with what I am willing to let go of now that I would have never done before. Hang in there!

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