It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect, Mom!

What? It doesn’t have to be perfect? This is news to me. And while my twelve year-old Little Miss seems quite comfortable with this notion, it is one that I have yet to fully embrace. Over the past weekend I was twice, quite correctly, singled out as a “Perfectionist.” Who knew, after all this time, that I don’t have to be?  Bear with me while I tell my little tale. It goes like this…

Just last weekend, my husband, Little Miss and I were visiting family friends at their lovely lake-front summer home in the interior of B.C. Our hostess, an out-going, welcoming, vivacious blonde, with an eye for designer fashions but an easy, friendly nature that makes them seem irrelevant, had gone to a great deal of effort on our behalf. Among other obvious preparations, she had baked. When it became apparent that not all of it would be eaten right away, the simple task of wrapping the banana loaf for freezing fell to me.

I was seated on a stool at the kitchen island, a continent, really, of beautifully polished white and grey marble, surrounded by fine wooden-finishings and two walls of floor-to-ceiling windows bringing the outdoors in. Our hostess busily prepared a cornucopia of breakfast choices, the odours of morning cuisine that included bacon, eggs, grilled tomatoes and toasted English muffins filled the air. Two of the four children present played in the background while our husbands each conducted Monday morning business thanks to the wonders of Blackberry. I was armed with a supply of Saran Wrap, Zip-Lock freezer bags and Tupperware, and was flanked to my right by my Little Miss, who chatted happily with her friend.

Before I continue, let me digress to include one pertinent point of fact: Little Miss is currently at the stage in her development in which, on occasion, she is quite certain that the knowledge she has amassed in her mere twelve-and-a-half years of life far surpasses my 41 years of accumulated experiences. At times, she clearly knows it all, a characteristic, I confess, she must come by honestly.

And so, with the eye-to-detail with which I generally do things, I commenced wrapping the loaf. I carefully un-rolled a length of Saran and laid it out with painstaking precision on the marble surface, paying a great deal of attention to overcoming those pesky little clusters that form when cling wrap decides to cling to itself. Smoothing duties satisfactorily accomplished, I centered the sweet-smelling loaf on top of the wrap and began to fold, neatly pulling the lengthwise sides up to meet in the centre-top, carefully folding and re-folding until no surplus wrap was left to be folded. I then set my sights on the loose ends, tucking the excess wrap around the loaf-ends, creating symmetrical folds on the diagonal, first one side, then the other, first one end, then the next, as though wrapping a Christmas gift for presentation to the Queen. ‘Freezer-burn be damned!’, I removed a second length of wrap from the roll and repeated the entire process. Ready for mummification, I placed the enrobed loaf inside a Zip-Lock sarcophagus, removed the excess air and zipped it shut. I did, however, stop myself from placing the entire package into the Tupperware. That would just be overkill.

Pleased as punch with my result, I looked up to see my daughter glancing patronizingly in my direction. And with the haughtiness which, in its newness, I currently find amusing but which, no doubt, will grow very old, very quickly, she explained to me as though speaking with a slow-learning child, “It doesn’t have to be perfect, Mom.” And with a condescending comforting pat on the back, I was thus blessed with the benefit of her wisdom, and she was off to more interesting matters.

But here’s the thing: Sarcasm aside, she is right.

I often find myself questioning my own patterns of behavior once I am forced to see things through her eyes. I don’t know how someone so similar to me in so many ways can, through the auspices of character or youth or perhaps even a little bit of wisdom, see things so clearly. I know that I will never stop being a perfectionist. It is who I am. But sometimes it’s nice to know that when things don’t end in perfection, as is often the case, that’s okay, too.

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Any other Perfectionists out there? Any free spirits who could care less about perfection? Don’t forget to share your stories or send me your thoughts.

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