Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Perfection

Do you know one of those people who just seem to have it all together?

You know the one I’m talking about: the person who wears black pants without spending the day worrying about lint. She emerges from the windstorm outside with nary a hair out of place. She sends thank-you cards the day after receiving a gift, she never forgets anyone’s name, and she never speaks harshly to her children (who, by the way, never have runny noses, dirty faces, or mismatched clothes).

These are the people who thrive during the holidays. I have a friend, the mother of three young children, who bakes 60 dozen cookies during the week before Christmas. She then packages them in special holiday-colored containers decked with bows that she made herself, and she delivers them to every person who has done anything for her throughout the year: her children’s teachers, her neighbors, her dentist, her local co-op manager, her beautician, and the person who AI’d the heifers last spring. She delivers them in an astonishingly perky manner as if it were nothing to slave away in her kitchen with three children hanging off her leg while she meticulously frosted and sprinkled hundreds of cookies that she wasn’t even going to eat.

A part of me has always wanted to be a person like that, so last Christmas, I decided that I, too, would set forth to bake for all those who meant something to me. I began with fudge. I doubled the recipe, of course, realizing that it would be faster to reach 60 dozen treats if I made double batches. When the ingredients began to boil and immediately swelled over the top of the pot, I realized I had a problem.

Several sticky dishtowels and a load of laundry later, I was back in the kitchen, undeterred from the task at hand. This time, I was going to tackle a new recipe I found in a quaint little Christmas cookbook designed especially for those women who can whip up chocolate truffles without so much as smearing their shirt with the ingredients.

The first step was to crush ½ cup of peppermint candies. Anyone knows that a hammer is the weapon utensil of choice for this task, so I set forth to crush the candies inside a sturdy bag. After scattering peppermint all over my counter and floor, I added injury to insult by smashing my knuckle with the hammer claw.

Once the candies were smashed, I gently folded them into the cookie mixture as instructed. I dropped them onto the cookie sheet with the help of my toddler, who was smashing each cookie as it landed on the sheet.

Of course, the toddler then needed her diaper attended to, so I set the oven timer with the knowledge that it never takes 10 minutes to change one diaper.

When my husband came through the door an hour later, he found two cookie sheets with hardened brown lumps stuck to them, the result of one diaper that took much, much too long to change.

I realized that I should give up both the quest to bake more cookies than a human should endeavor to make in a day and the quest to become someone whom I obviously was not meant to be.

I’m the type of woman who forgets to offer guests something to eat or drink. My house is never entirely clean; while I’m cleaning one end of it, disaster is being created in the other. My kids might look presentable at church, but I have messy hair, one earring, and a Cheerio stuck to the back of my leg.

When I’m cooking, the kitchen looks like a war zone. I always drip ketchup in the middle of my white shirt, I always rub my sleeve against the muddy car, and if there is a sticky spot of something on a bleacher, I’m always the one who sits in it.

If I could get it all together, I would forget where I put it.

After the botched cookies and the overflowing fudge, I realized that I’m okay without being like my friend the superwoman, though. I have many blessings in my life, and believe we are all called to do the best we can with the talents we were given.

For some of us, that means we need to spend less time trying to be someone we are not and spend more time sharing our imperfect selves just the way we are.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Boy, do I know how you feel.. I tryed doing the cookie thing one year and I've got to say it's not for me.. I almost drove myself nuts doing it and decided it was best I not try it again..

Sandy

Mum-me said...

Great advice - let's stop comparing ourselves to Mrs Perfect. (Not so easy to follow when I am the one who is feeling inferior, though.)

Treasia said...

Wonderful post! At first when reading it I thought of the lady on Desperate Housewives. Bree. But she is not so nice to the kids. LOL.

Years ago I started making about 30# of fudge every Christmas for family, friends and co-workers. Then everyone started taking it for granted and expected it each and every holiday thereafter. Through the years now I have cut back quite a bit on it. Only making it now for close family members only. What I thought would be a fun thing to do turned into a job each year.

Happy Mommy said...

You are really funny! Just keep saying I can do it I can do it. And maybe bake cookies for Valentine's Day of 4th of July not the busiest week of the year.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I needed to hear this today. My very best friend is one of those. I spent the day with her yesterday and came home feeling like such a booger. In only three hours she bought birthday presents for the next 12 months worth of birthdays. I couldn't even remember my own childrens birthdays. It's just nice to know I'm not alone.

Andrea said...

Amen!! I have a hard enough time being myself let alone trying to keep up with the Joneses, is that right Joneses?? Probably not but hey that is okay!! LOL!! Nobody can do it all!!

Dawn said...

Everyone's view of "perfection" is relative and changes with your season of life. And, your "perfect" friend probably admires and wishes for your ability to be laid back and casual.

Dad said...

Hi, Ere-after reading your comment to John's World I came across a quote you might enjoy.
"How often we recall, with regret, that Napoleon once shot at a magazine editor and missed him and killed a publisher. But we remember with charity that his intentions were good." Mark Twain
See ya-Dad

Let Them Be Little said...

So true!

Anonymous said...

I too have wished I could be one of those people but I am much happier on the 4-wheeler with the boys=) My husband and sons baked cookies on Sunday, I haven't baked any for, well lets see, a year=( I wish I liked to do those things but I don't, my little one has a yucky nose as I type and I am sure if I looked closely at my shoulder I am probably wearing some of his yucky nose from his lovey he gave me not so long ago=)
Jennifer D.

BoufMom9 said...

Amen!

Amii said...

The Cheerio got me...I had to laugh out loud.

I realized I wasn't super mom a while back and while I'm a super mom wannabe, I know that I too will forever drop my child off at school with unkempt hair, breakfast stains on his shirt and crusty stuff on his face. The crusty stuff must go though...trying to work on that.

 
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