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Thursday, May 14, 2015

why i am teaching my kids the fine art of imperfection



"MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM The A looks terrible. I CAN'T DO IT."

All followed by weeping and gnashing of teeth, the occasional breaking of pencils, stormy looks and head in arms.They beg and plead, "Please mama, can you draw the fairy?" "Can't you hold my hand while I write the long words?"

And I sit there alternating between frustrated and sympathizing. Yes. I know, you can't draw perfectly. And yes, your little a was wobbly, and yes, you are taking an awfully long time figuring out that math problem.

But I want them to learn this, this one thing if I can, gift to them in their schooling, in life.

Love your imperfect self. Your crooked "A's". Your quirky speech. Your brain that can memorize poetry in two minutes flat, but takes more time to process numbers.

Love the imperfect. Strive for it, even.

Because if you are doing things imperfectly, lots of things, it means you are DOING, LOTS OF THINGS.

Because perfectionism is paralyzing. Because I lost a lot of time in life not doing things I could've been doing because I was afraid I wouldn't be perfect. Because doing, imperfectly, is better than huddling back, living in fear of not being perfect.

Because they are imperfect selves, entering into an imperfect world.

And perfect, well, its truly not worth the tears. Perfect is boring. Predictable. Crooked A's and quirky brains bring spice to a taupe world of standardized tests and orthodontists and measuring sticks and labels.

It is in the imperfect that the real beauty of life lies.

But, imperfection is a learned art. And I have to show them the way through the maze of longing for the perfect, which of course is challenging when you don't know how the hell to embrace your own imperfect.

I suppose it means this...Love your jiggles (do you have a baby in there mama?). Your quirky ways of thinking (um, neurotic). Your crooked bottom teeth (that dada insists are cute). Your inability to get a painting or a blog post JUST SO (um, this post).

The beauty is in doing, striving, being the you that is waiting there, under the layers, under the chains of the perfect expectations we wrap around ourselves as mothers, as humans.

Unwrap the chains. Peel back the layers. Lay in the sun, imperfect you.

And then, bring your babies along, grass under your bare feet, sketch alongside them, make a dandelion chain, watch ants, eat a picnic, watch ants eat your picnic. And then when they start fighting about the last slice of watermelon (why didnt you bring MORE) and then little girl stubs her toe and sobs uncontrollably and you yell when other kid hits his little sister and oldest child moans in the car on the ride home in the rain "AND WE WERE HAVING SUCH A NICE DAY AND NOW ITS RUINED!" you can say, in your practiced voice "Honey, that is just life. It's okay. We had such a nice picnic, what was your favorite part?"

And you try. And then wake up and try again.

Live! Perfectly, imperfect. You.*

*Note to self.



  1. Reminds me of the Kahn academy video about how you can learn *anything*. It's beautiful, and inspirational- like this post! Thank you!

    1. aw, thanks for that elizabeth! how are you?? i hope your school year is ending well. :)

  2. Thank you for posting this, Sara; exactly what I needed to hear. Good lesson for me to learn too- if my kids are going to learn to love the imperfections in life I gotta practise what I preach, right?


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