How to be Perfect
“I set out on a narrow way many years ago. Hoping I would find true love along the broken road…”
I know there is at least one person that made the decision to read simply because they thought, “A guide on how to be perfect? Really? Who does she think she is!” And that, my friend, is the perfect perception. And I hope that you’re brave enough to read on.
This is the time of year where we are all pushing for the concept of being perfect. Kids are headed back to school. Get good grades - perfect grades if you don’t mind. Be a good person. Kind to everyone. Humble. How about nice? Perfect please. Trying out for that sports team? Dang - get the perfect time, make the perfect pass, throw a perfect spiral. Be a perfect presenter at work. Have that mission go off perfectly. Be a perfect example of a perfect employee.
Perfection. The always attainable, ever achievable, strive to be the best, make things happen and shine our light bright, be PERFECT. The pressure that we put on ourselves, on our families, our friends, our children to be perfect, to fit into that societal mold, that picture that we have in our heads - we’re throwing out some big shoes to fill. Laying out an almost impossible task. But what if, just WHAT IF - we still laid out that task but we altered our definition, fine tuned what our expectation of perfection was? Could it be, might it be actually attainable? I think maybe, just maybe, it is something that we can achieve. Keep an open mind and let me explain.
Types of Perfection
I think there are three main types of perfection. I like the number three, it’s enough to pique your interest so just roll with it. Three ways in which we can achieve perfection and they can positively impact not only us as individuals but also impact our relationships and help our children to achieve perfection. No this is not QVC - this is the real deal. Read on.
Every parent knows this one like the back of their hand. You love your children unconditionally. Love them to pieces. Even when they are being unlovable. Or selfish. Or mouthy. I could go on and on but let’s just suffice to say that our children are not perfect. But we love them anyways. Sometimes our delivery is not what it should be, our temper gets the best of us and sometimes our mouths run when we should zip our lips and walk away. But we are perfect in our love for them.
My Perfect Love
We dropped Lex off at school this week. College. And she was a little tense and nervous and female and there came a point in time during the unpacking that it was imminently and verbally clear that it was time for us to go. So, a quick hug and kiss and off we went with the empty boxes and smiles on our faces and thoughts of I just need a cold beer.
Loved her perfectly
No tears. True story. Those came when we were about a half an hour down the road and I started to cry. My Rob asked me what was wrong and I looked at him and said, “We did our job. After 18 years, it’s all done.” And he grabbed my hand and said, “We did the best we could. We gave her all the love we possibly could, gave her the best version of ourselves at every turn. The rest is up to her.” Not perfect parents but without question, perfect in our love for our daughter.
The best version of ourselves
A foundation of perfect love
“But I got lost a time or two, wiped my brow and kept pushing through. I couldn’t see how every sign pointed straight to you.”
I know there are some of you out there that think intent is the same as effort. But it is not. Intent takes some thought process, effort in my opinion is all heart. You see it all the time - that kid on the field that has more heart than anyone else, he plays through the whistle, he bounces up from the hit. And he’s maybe consistently a 7. But man, his effort, it is a 10, pretty close to perfect. That coworker at the gym that stays after hours, that comes up with spreadsheets that would make you think their last name should be Excel, they are always there to lend a helping hand, bring in the coffee and donuts and they know everyone’s name. Their effort is to be admired it’s so darn perfect. Yet the boss rarely recognizes them. The spouse that goes out the door every day and comes home to go coach a team that their child isn’t on, lends a helping hand to a good friend, is just a great guy. And doesn’t need any sort of recognition - just doing the best he can to be the best person, man, husband, friend he can. Perfect effort every day.
My Perfect Effort
My CJ, man that kid. He is the worst of Rob and I and the best of Rob and I. We always used to say that if he could take the single minded determination to be a pain in the backside and put it towards something else, he will be unstoppable.
Strives for perfection
And that is exactly what he has done. He is singularly driven, focused on his goals, gives 100% into weight training, quarterback training, speed and agility training, academics, nutrition. You name it - it’s on his radar. All in his quest to get the best out of himself that he possibly can. And he may or may not ever be recognized by the coach, the teacher, the college for those efforts. And every night I pray that someone sees the greatness in him that Rob and I do. Although his efforts often are not appreciated by the right people, his perfect effort in being the best version of CJ is valued, respected and humbling to me and Rob.
Singularly focused on giving his all
Perfect in his effort
“I think about the years I spent just passing through. I’d like to have the time I lost and give it back to you.”
I think this is a big one for parents and so key when it comes to teaching younger generations. Let your intent be perfect - at work, at school, with sports, within your relationships. We’ve all had those instances where something we’ve said, something we’ve done has gone wrong. The intent to do right is there but sometimes the universe does not work in our favor and the outcome was less than ideal. And what do we do naturally? We beat ourselves up, we chastise our children, we lose our temper because of the outcome - instead of focusing on the intent.
My Perfect Intent
And my Jax, that kid. His intent is simply perfect. He wants the best, he tries the hardest, he just doesn’t stop. As a freshman he is practicing with the varsity players and every day when he gets in the car and I ask him how practice was he smiles and says, “Great. I got muckled again today.” And he shrugs and accepts it as part of his job and his responsibility.
His intent is pure and simple. Just be a part of the team to the best of his ability at whatever capacity he is needed. He is pure perfection in his intent to please and make a difference for the betterment of those around him and his silent leadership is something that will serve him well later in life and allow him to help others achieve great things. Just as it is now. And we are grateful.
There is no 'I' in TEAM
Perfect in his intentions
“But you just smile and take my hand. You’ve been there you understand. It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true.”
So, to be perfectly fair, how do we go about attaining all of this perfection? And, to be perfectly honest, is it actually attainable? I think so. But it takes some work.
Realize your Expectations
What I mean is - awareness matters. Be aware of what exactly those expectations of perfection are. Honest with yourself. Have a mental visual of what that expectation is. When you say to your child “do a good job” what exactly is that expectation? Get a grip and have a firm realization, an honest looking-through-a-magnifying-glass of what you expect of yourself, of others, of your children. Sometimes what we are thinking in our heads is not necessarily what we mean or what we expect or what we are projecting.
We could argue this is the same as the above but for the sake of argument let’s say that it isn’t. And the best example I can think of again reverts to our children. I expect my children to get good grades. But because they all three learn differently and have different strengths and weaknesses, realistically they are not going to all get the same grades. I have one that is a straight A student, primarily honors classes and said child busts their hump. But it comes a little easier to them. I have one that struggles with reading a bit, one that struggles with putting their thoughts on paper. So therefore, I expect them to give their best effort but am realistic that the outcome for each is not the same. And that is perfectly okay.
Attitude and Gratitude Matters
Much of how we achieve and attain this perfection boils down to attitude and gratitude in my opinion. We have to bring a positive attitude to the table to begin with - be willing to find the silver lining in every challenge, approach adversity with a direct yet positive approach as best we can. A positive can-do approach is infectious as is a negative attitude. Which do you think is more conducive to making great things happen.
And we must have gratitude. I guarantee you in the most horrible of imperfect days there were moments, instances that you can be grateful for. That uplifted. That were positive. That were PERFECT. Having gratitude for those moments - again, it points us in the direction of success, of continuing that momentum towards something that will allow us to give perfect effort. Realize that although the outcome was not what we hoped, our INTENT was perfect. And we loved to the best of our ability. Gratitude is like Where’s Waldo. Search it out daily.
Perfect in my world
I had a moment this past week. It was Friday and it was the end of my week from hades. Went through three and a half tanks of gas, moved Lex into college, had one in drivers ed, football practices, my gym time, life - was overwhelmed and underpaid and just tired. But I knew that I gave it my all that entire week, that I had not only survived but that all of us had thrived. So as I’m driving with my Jax to the gym I decided to stop and pause. And be grateful that the week hadn’t broken me too badly and I asked God - "Is it going to be okay? Is Lexi going to be okay? Does she have the tools in her toolbox? Is CJ going to rise this year? That kid has worked so hard and is his hard work going to pay off? Is he going to be valued? My Jax, he’s got some big shoes to fill and he is trying so hard and he’s bruised from getting hit with helmets yet he bounces right back up and says “Give me some more” and is he going to be alright? Will he make a difference? Will he knows that he too has greatness inside of him? Did we do our job as parents? Are we doing our job as parents?" As I’m asking all these questions in my moment of pause I asked one more. I said if you could please, please just give me a sign - let me know that it is all going to be okay. That they are all going to be okay. And it was at that moment that the song “Wagon Wheel” came on the radio. Clear as day. On a part of Interstate 290 where the reception is bad but last Friday morning - it was crystal clear. And I couldn’t stop the tears. And my little Jax, he looked over and saw me crying and reached over and held my hand. Squeezed it tight and said, “It’s okay, Mom. We are all okay.” I don’t know how he knew what to say as I hadn’t said a word but he did. And the moment was perfect.
Perfect in our love for one another
What I’ve come to realize is that perfection is there. And so attainable. We have not been perfect parents. The mistakes are many and probably include lots of swears. But the intent to do the very best job to raise good people has always been there, we have never been anything but 100% perfect in that intent. And the effort that we have put into raising good people, accountable individuals, contributors to society, kind and caring - we have been perfect in our efforts. And our love for them - that grounds me because without question Rob and I have been perfect in our love, given them the very best of ourselves on each and every given day.
When your perfection falls short
Let’s face it - my version of perfect is not the same as yours. Or yours. In fact, anyone that knows me knows that I definitely am Elaine dancing to my own music (Seinfeld reference for all you Millenials…). And especially when you are dealing with loss. Some people may remember a loved one with a tattoo. Some may choose to carry around some of their ashes. Maybe you sleep with their hankie in your pillowcase. Maybe there is a way that allows your to be perfect in your love and remembrance of them that doesn’t float someone else’s boat, that a friend or family member thinks is weird. Who cares? Being perfect when it comes to remembering someone we’ve lost is personal. Personal to you. And it is my firm belief that if it works for you - do it. And don’t apologize, explain or feel that you need to conform just to make someone else comfortable. Remember them, honor them however you choose and without regard to anyone’s feelings but your own. Cherished to personal perfection.
In Memory of Frances Larson
And life brings no guarantees. Just ask my sister and her husband. When we are perfect in our intent, perfect in our efforts and oh-so-perfect in our love, no matter the outcome, no matter the loss - nothing nor no one can take that away.
Perfection. Yours for the taking.
“This much I know it’s true that God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you.”