In the very early years of my marriage – when I was young and naive, and just barely old enough to vote – I believed that having a perfect life meant having everything and everyone in its place. I thought it meant never arguing with my husband, and having clean and well-behaved children.
I thought it meant having back-to-back good hair days, and flowers on the table, and finding the right pair of jeans, and making a supper that everyone loved, and getting an A+ on an essay that I’d written, and birthing a ten-and-a-half pound baby without getting any stretch marks (like that was ever going to happen), and having a totally blemish-free complexion, and, and, and…
After many, MANY years of experiencing just the opposite – with kids running around behind me making mess after Cheerios-spilled mess, and a husband who didn’t think the same way I did on some fairly significant issues – I now realize that a perfect life means adjusting, and compromising, and not killing your spouse when he tells you that he wants shelves instead of light fixtures in that space in the living room – AFTER you’ve picked out the lights, and you thought the whole thing was a done deal. I’m still getting the lights. I don’t care what he says.
And yes, it has taken me this long to figure things out. I know, sometimes I’m slow.
Beauty, perfection, idealism, greatness, whatever you want to call it – it’s all fleeting. It happens in a split second, like when you win the big game, or when you capture an image of yourself at just the right angle (which for me, almost never happens), or when those shoes are all lined-up in neat rows in the mud room.
No, nothing lasts, and it’s those in-between times that make up the majority of life [she says staring at her favourite lamp that is now lying broken and in pieces on the floor because the cats were playing the “let’s tornado around the house” game again last night].
It’s not that I don’t want to strive to do well, or to look good, or to have a non-destroyed house, or non-back-talking children, it’s just that I know these things are elusive and transitory at best. As my oldest son likes to say, “Life is a grind that you just gotta push through.” You gotta try to enjoy the pushing, I might add, because there is nothing else.
I’m at peace with all of this – sort of. Looking at House and Home magazine – although I like it – doesn’t help me much. Neither does looking at Vogue or Cosmo. And Facebook is brutal as well. Too many things that appear perfect that I know are not. It’s about keeping things in perspective, and knowing what’s real.
So that’s it. Don’t fall for the ideal. Just live, do your best, and revel in the broken, damaged, messy, unfinished, funny-looking existence that is you and yours. MOST IMPORTANTLY, THROW CAUTION TO THE WIND, TRY TO HAVE FUN, AND DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK. You’ll be so much happier that way. I know I am.