When my daughter was born, I wanted everything to be perfect. Her room was painted in a nontoxic soft lavender. Tiny clothes hung on tiny hangers. Childproof locks were installed on everything that could open.
The day that I came home from the hospital after giving birth, my husband, new daughter and I stopped for lunch. After eating, I told my husband to meet me out front, I was going to use the restroom. I came out, and saw my husband, but not my two-day-old baby. He had forgotten her in the restaurant booth.
Welcome to the world, new child.
Looking back at that incident, I can laugh. But in the moment, I wasn’t laughing. I was a sobbing, hysterical, hormonal mess. Having my baby forgotten in an Arby’s booth was not how I had imagined my perfect homecoming to be.
Most people strive for perfection in life: perfect ACT score, perfect game, perfect marriage, perfect body. But life isn’t so black and white, right and wrong, good and bad. And as much as there are times I long for perfection, I believe that there is something much better out there.
Most of life is about the ‘almost,’ the ‘not quite,’ the ‘pretty good.’ It’s about finding joy in the variations and colors of everyday. It’s about finding peace and acceptance. It’s about always growing.
From the second day of her life, my daughter experienced the imperfection of her parents. And at 5 years of age, she is now very aware that everyone makes mistakes, parents included.
One of my tasks as a parent is to allow her to experience and find peace within her own imperfections, to accept her failures and the failures others and learn from them, to grow.
Imperfection is a given. What matters is what we do with it. Do we berate others and ourselves, or can we learn and move on? Do we yell and scream, punish and scold, or do we teach? Do we ostracize, or accept? Do we push away or embrace?
Life is not a black and white world where there is only right and wrong, only good or bad, only one way or the other.
The world is full of colors and variations, shapes and sizes. And it’s often unexpected outcomes that teach us the most. A chocolate bar melting in Percy LeBaron Spencer’s pocket led to the discovery of the microwave. Penicillin was the result of a Alexander Fleming not clearing off his workstation. Silly Putty is a failed synthetic rubber.
Embracing the imperfections in ourselves and others inevitably leads to a stronger, more honest way of living. Having an open and accepting mind can lead to life-changing discoveries.
Don’t be limited by the fear of being less than perfect. Be gentle with yourself, and with others. We’re all in this colorful, crazy, imperfect world together.
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Last reviewed: 28 May 2012