Yesterday, I didn’t do anything but read and play with Riley, and sit and think, and think some more, and reread a couple of favorite books, and read and play with Riley, and sleep in the delicious (some would say oppressive) heat, and read and play with Riley. There were no great strides taken in the search for a steady paycheck, no wars fought or battles won, and no great leaps in personal development. Just preparing, planning, and hoping. And lots of Dr. Seuss. Which gets me thinking: Am I the only one who read Horton Hears a Who and immediately thought that it’s covert pro-life propaganda? I mean, really: “I’ll just have to save him. Because, after all,/ A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Am I completely buggin?
Lately, I’ve been working on so many projects, and exerting myself to the point of skinniness and sore throats. I’m feeling overwhelmed by the weight of what I’ve taken on. Motherhood and coupledom, I can handle. Throw in the household, money issues, health concerns, and social responsibilities, and I’m still okay. But then you stick in my overeager perfectionist streak, and all of a sudden, I’m going off the deep end.
When I was a little girl, I used to wish on stars. I would recite the old standby of “Starlight, star bright…”, and end it with a prayer to The Big Man in The Sky, so if you happened to be outside of my bedroom window at night, you’d possibly hear a hopeful little sing-song voice saying, “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight: I really, really, want a stuffed Alvin chipmunk. And to be perfect. In the name of the father, son, and holy spirit. Amen.”
Even then, apparently, I thought of the Big G as some dude who was supposed to give me things if I was really, really good. Like Santa Claus. Or my parents. But my parents aren’t perfect, and Santa Claus doesn’t exist, and eventually I traded in religion for spirituality and called it a day. But that’s another story.
I really, really wanted to be perfect. I don’t know where this desire came from, but it was somehow ingrained in me, and even today I vie for perfection. I even still have the same notions of perfection: back when I was a little girl, I’d decided that perfection meant experiencing as much of life as possible, so that I could know how lots of different kinds of people lived, and I could relate to them. Again, I have no idea where this idea came from. But it’s a policy that has served me well and is responsible for early and thorough teachings of life lessons. It’s also shaped my ideals and my perspectives on everything from love to politics.
So that’s what I’ve done and what I continue to do: try my best to stick to my own pie-in-the-sky standards of perfection. It’s why I’m so damn introspective and demanding of myself. It’s why I will always give people the benefit of the doubt before assuming that I know better than them, or that they have bad intentions.
These days, since most of my ducks are at least swimming in the same stream, I take each day as a reason to strive to be better than I was the day before. I know I’ll make mistakes, that I’ll get frustrated and angry with myself for my shortcomings, and that there will always be something in my life to complete or improve. But I also know that those things change, that they’re unavoidable, and that the way I handle them will either set me that much closer to my standards, or knock me down.
And when I’m at the end of my rope, there are so many blessings to persuade me to hold on. If only for another day.