In sixth grade my locker was right next to Donna’s. She was (and I’m sure still is) a very nice girl. She was blond and had a good group of friends and never did anything weird or goofy that could have earned her a link to an urban myth or any unfortunate nicknames (which really is key to middle school survival). Yet, despite her successfully unremarkable charter through the rocky tween years, I will likely never forget her.
That is because almost every single day, while I was simultaneously praying that I might finally get my boobies and remember my locker combination (36-24-36…for both), she would tell me that I was perfect. Perfect, perfect, perfect, perfect, perfect.
Gag me with a spoon.
I was defensive and I never knew how to respond to that. Just like everyone else, I knew I was far from perfect. I had goofy braces and glasses and an unruly cowlick and my Jordache jeans were waaaaaay too tight (damn the thighs, even back then). I was fighting with my mom, my little sisters were a pain in my butt, my dad was always at work, and my extended family was the stuff that they make reality shows about before they even had reality shows. I liked a boy who didn’t like me back, and the one who did like me was called “Booger.” I was growing too tall, too quickly and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay on the gymnastics team much longer. Algebra was getting hard for me to follow without a lot of effort. I certainly felt flawed. But when I told Donna that she was wrong, she would not listen.
Fast forward thirty years.
I was at our neighborhood pool on Sunday with Kids D and E. They were starting to drive me bonkers in the house, so I decided – for their safety and my sanity – we should get out. It was a beautiful, hot day, but not many people were in the water. The boys had fun swimming. I had fun catching up with friends. I chatted with my next-door neighbor for a bit. A little later on, the football house mom (“If You Have to Poop, Go Home,” posted on April 27, 2011) came down with her son. We were discussing our kids and I was complaining about mine and you can guess what she said to me.
“Hmmm. I always thought your kids were perfect.” Perfect, perfect, perfect, perfect, perfect.
Gag me with a spoon and call me Criss Angel.
I guess I am still defensive, but now I know what to say. My kids are far from perfect. I am far from perfect. And my life is definitely not perfect.
Sheepdog was gone way more than he was home this summer, and single-parenting five kids is the pits. I resented him a whole bunch this summer. And I was passive-aggressive about it.
Kid A has apparently reached the highest level of enlightenment and is not stingy in sharing her extensive knowledge, especially with regard to mistakes I make while parenting. She even wrote me a note about it. I was very happy when she left for two weeks of camp.
Kid B had a texting relationship with a boy that, when subjected to an impromptu spot-check by mom, went from “OK, innocent-enough” to “Reading-this-is-gonna-make-me-blow-chunks-right-here-on-the-boardwalk.” I have subsequently given her the title of My Kid Most Likely to Sext in hopes that it deters her. Also, she can no longer send or receive photos on her phone (just in case).
Kid C continues to live life on a completely different planet, leaving behind a trail of glitter and other scraps from her latest craft projects. And sometimes just one shoe. Oh yeah, and it takes her no less than two whole hours to shave her legs in the shower; our water bill is going to be astronomical.
Kid D has now added martial arts to his sports obsessions. Just from watching a new TV show he has decided that he can successfully karate chop a block of wood. In fact, he can not. He also still can not tie his sneakers. Do they even make velcro shoes for adults?
Kid E was allowed to watch “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” and now he walks around saying things like, “You better red-neck-ognize!” and “Mamma might eat Glitzy. She done ett ’bout e’ery thang else!” in a perfect southern drawl. I threatened to send him back to speech therapy if he did not stop.
As for me, I am hormonal and cynical and I have very poor fashion sense and I continue to curse way too much. Sometimes I pee a little when I cough really hard. I occasionally yell at my family like a complete psycho. I get mad at Sheepdog when he is gone and then again when he comes home. I am making up every excuse in the book as to why we can not have Kid E’s birthday at the jumping place like he really wants because I absolutely hate that place. I alienated a carpool mom by saying she was late. Oh, and I have on at least one occasion pretended to have my period for a few days longer that I really did so I didn’t have to have sex. Really, I am thankful for a husband who finds me attractive, but who wants to have sex every flipping day?
It still surprises me when people call me perfect, but it no longer makes me feel weird. It no longer makes me micro-examine my flaws or overcompensate for my imperfections. I am comfortable in my skin and I know that I am trying my best. I’m making it up as I go along, day by day… just like you and just like everybody else. I try to learn new things and grow as a person and to do things better the next time around, but I realize that I will never get everything right no matter how long I may live.
No, we are not perfect. Not me, not my husband, not my kids. I guess we are closer to perfection than some, farther away than many others, and about the same as most. But I like to think we are pretty happy despite all of our imperfections.
And that’s why the tagline to this blog has always been, “a front row seat to my perfectly imperfect life.” Sorry, Donna.
Wish me luck for tomorrow…