Blather · Leaning In

Imperfection

Here it is, another Saturday, another Stream of Consciousness writing prompt (perfection), another day when I allow myself to write more than 23 words — in other words, another day of blather.

I’ll admit that I’m one of those people who wants things to be perfect. Seriously, are there people who don’t? Doesn’t everyone like that feeling of having done something really well — in fact, so well that it falls into the realm of perfection. I mean, I get satisfaction from a perfectly folded towel, a perfectly baked cookie, a perfect question (you know one when you hear one), a perfect answer (easily recognized as well), a perfect evening spent with a friend.

Imperfection plagues me.

I read a poem by Brian Doyle earlier this week in which he talked about rejection. “Learn to be neighborly with no,” he said, and I thought, I need to learn to be neighborly with mistakes; specifically, MY mistakes.

Seriously, who wants mistakes as neighbors? Who wants to invite them in for a cup of coffee and a chat?

Blah.

It’s so much easier to show grace to others than ourselves.

Perfectionism is almost a cancer. Strike that — it IS a cancer.

But what’s the cure?

Leaning into imperfection.

God help me.

family · Grief · Life

I Remember Mama

I’ve had times when I wanted to throw in the towel. One tiny bit of advice carried me through those better than any other.

Children are a lot of work. Large families have a unique set of challenges.

For instance, when a family grows from two to three children, mom doesn’t have enough hands when walking to the library with the children. She can hold the hand of one child on her right and the other on her left, but where does the third child go?

When a family grows from three children to four children, they can’t all ride in one car, unless, I suppose, they have a bench seat in the front, which we didn’t.

When a family grows from five children to six children, they can’t fit into a mini-van. Driving a 15-passenger van is overkill, but there aren’t many choices or 12 passenger vans out there.

I had eight children. My mother-in-law had thirteen. Thirteen!

One of the first times I went to their house, she took me by the hand and we walked to their large vegetable garden. I still remember the feel of her hands, calloused and strong. She worked so hard. She earned those hands.

She was a hugger. My own mother was not a hugger. Sometimes huggy people feel awkward to those of us who haven’t always had those outward displays of affection. But it seemed such a natural extension of who she was.

Basically, she was amazing and made everything look easy.

One day I asked her when I was struggling with my two or three or six children — “How do you do it?”

In her sweet, sweet way, she said, “Oh, Sally, you just do.”

You just do. Those are hefty words to live by.

And honestly, I have failed at just doing sometimes too many times.

Still, that simple exchange was one of the most unforgettable conversations in my life.

She passed away this week.

But I remember Mama.

Mama (R) with her mother (center) and brother (L)