by Christine Geery
I bought a frozen pie shell today at the supermarket. This may not seem too noteworthy to some people, but believe me, in my world this is momentous. In the family I was raised, buying a frozen pie shell would be utterly unnatural, almost sacrilegious. In my house everything was done by hand and everything was done impeccably.
As I made my way through life I carried this burden of having to do everything perfectly. Being a perfect wife and mother is a strain which can give you premature wrinkles and ulcers. I remember staying up late at night making sure that the dishes were not only washed and put away, but that every pillow was plumped and arranged on the furniture at just the right angle. All was straightened up in every room so that I would not have to face added turmoil the next morning, when I was getting everyone out for the day, including myself. I remember when my first husband joked to the kids, â€œIf you want to drive your mother crazy, go through the house and turn every picture Â¼” off.â€ What’s not crazy is that it would have done just that.
At one point in my life I was visiting with a therapist trying to sort through some issues which had my stomach in constant knots. Gee, I wonder what those were? Anyway he told me to picture my favorite room in the house and tell him how it made me feel to be in it. I immediately told him that it was my living room. First I said that it would be immaculate. He abruptly interrupted me and said, â€œI don’t want to know what it looks like. I want to know how it makes you feel.â€ This was a difficult concept for me to grasp. How could it make me feel good to be there unless it was in perfect order? The whole reason I picked the living room was because nobody sat in there and messed it up. What was wrong with this man? Didn’t he get it?
Sadly I’m the one who didn’t get it. But somehow, little by little I have been able to let go and let be.
Some of this letting go has been forced upon me by health issues, namely a weak back, most likely brought on from carrying a too heavy load of guilt. And some of it has evolved from a gradual realization of how life is supposed to be lived.
I have always had dogs in my life and at one time had five at once. While I always enjoyed my furry friends immensely, I still strove to keep a spotless house and wonderful garden. It wasn’t as hard as it sounds since we had non shedding dogs, poodle mixes to be exact. This past summer when my 18 yr old cockapoo Nike died, we debated whether we should get another dog. We still had our small poodle, Phoebe, but decided she should have company.
Daniel had always had large dogs, which I didn’t mind as long as there would be no shedding. So we decided on a Goldendoodle, a mix of golden retriever and standard poodle. We chose what I think is one of the most beautiful dogs I have ever owned. Daphne has a lovely spirit and has brought more love into our home than I could have hoped for. We play with her all the time, go for walks and most of all enjoy her personality. She is so much smarter than we are, teasing us and testing us every chance she gets.
We set up an area which we call â€œjail,â€ because that is where she must go when she is naughty. One day she started to chew something that was off limits. I scolded her. and as I did she lowered her eyes, walked off and put herself in jail.
One look into those eyes and I melt immediately. Every day she enjoys getting brushed, both her hair and her teeth. She has golden red hair and because she was sent to me to teach me lessons I need to learn, she sheds, in spite of our research to the contrary. About 1% of this breed sheds, and wouldn’t you know we picked one!
She is one reason why I’m finally grasping what is and what isn’t important, in terms of perfect and imperfect. I’m not always happy about the shedding hair, but somehow it doesn’t seem to bother me as it would have years ago, when I was that crazy woman sitting in her uncluttered living room. Now we all sit in there, whenever we want. However, Daphne is on the floor, usually at our feet.
This lesson of accepting imperfection has been a lifelong journey for me; it is one that may never end but is becoming easier. I have learned for example that it doesn’t matter any more that my looks or body are fading. My spirit isn’t and it never will. My children have grown to be spiritual, honest, loving people. My true friends come in all shapes and sizes. They are such accomplished people and they are my heroes. My husband who has just one dimple (which I happen to think is adorable) is also bald, and is the best man I’ve known and the keeper of my heart. Everything and everyone is perfectly imperfect and that’s what makes life so much more interesting and fun. It has been said that perfection is the enemy of success, and these may be a few examples.
I don’t think I’ll ever admonish myself again for buying a frozen pie crust. Actually, I think it was about damn time I did, because the lemon meringue pie turned out perfect.