Messing with Perfection


Life gets messy. (Is that a line from a Bounty commercial?)

Think about the number of human interactions we have in a day.  All those feelings. Opinions. Preferences. Memories. Points of view. All those people and all those ideas mixing it up all day, every day.  There’s bound to be a mess or two, a misunderstanding, some hurt feelings, and maybe even an entire box of Cheerios splayed out across the kitchen floor.

If we’re human. We make messes.

(That should be a line from a Bounty commercial.)

Many messes are brief and circumstantial. I’ve made more than one through lack of attention or tripping over my own feet and dropping all the balls I juggle. There are situational messes too, usually caused by me saying some sort of wrong thing. In a party situation, for example, I’m an untidy small-talker, awkward and uncomfortable. Nerves do the talking for me, and nerves are anything but neat.

I don’t think I ever really understood the true meaning of mess, however, until I had children. I’ve always felt and believed that my mess is not your mess, and your mess is not mine – until I had children and suddenly realized their messes are indeed mine, too.  It’s hard to disassociate yourself from them, as heart-wrapped as you are in all the hopes and dreams and love you have. Loving so much sometimes makes a mess too.

I think I’ve always been a little afraid I would mess this mothering thing up. Still afraid – 26 years and 3 months into it. Afraid that I would fail. That I would mess them up. If ever a need to be perfect flowed through my blood to my heart and brain – it was to be a perfect mom. Not Pinterest perfect, but heart perfect. To teach the right things and model the right things and say just the right words and … to love perfectly … exactly how each of my children needed to be loved.

The width, depth, and breadth of children’s mess-making moves with them across their lives.  There’s literal mess and graphic splendor in the abstract art of Lego scattered from one end of the room to the other. And there’s emotional mess in tantrums and bickering and the heartache of a break-up. We live it all as our children do. We feel it all with them, and wish – deeply – they didn’t have to feel it at all.

It’s so important to me that I continue to parent my children, convinced as I am that even young adults still need guidance from their mother. Many days, though, I feel uncertain and spin myself round in circles of don’t know what to do or say, not sure who or how to be, and what for the love … am I supposed to do now? My mother confidence is a lot less than it used to be and honestly, I feel like I’m making a mess of  the whole thing.

Here’s where faith comes in. And a whole lot of it. Sometimes just the word FAITH is a mantra for my day … and especially my nights.  I try to remember there’s beauty in mess. Mistakes make learners of us all.

Because messes will come – to be messy is human, to be perfect is divine – and so I know I will never be perfect, but faith guarantees me I’ll be guided through it all.

Linking up today with Esther Emery and #wholemama Week 4. Visit with other moms who’re discussing #wholemama ideas of mess.  Bring some Bounty!

6 thoughts on “Messing with Perfection

  1. I think we all sometimes feel like we make a mess of our mothering, esp. when our kids become adults, but you are right, they still need us even then. We need a lot of faith and wisdom. We will make mistakes, but somehow God can still work in spite of and sometimes through our mistakes. I pray that I will always have a good, loving relationship with my adult children even when we disagree.


  2. Thank you so much for this. My older children are now in their teens and it is so good to hear from mothers of young adults that it’s ok and normal to keep feeling clueless about it all whilst we hold on to Faith.


  3. I love the idea of one-word mantras. Really love that. It’s like a little prayer when there isn’t time to stop or to say a lot. Brilliant.


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