28 Jul 2011

The only way to make it through most days

“I’m afraid the land of perfect is a myth. We might feel we are skirting the borders with our dream, but the reality is those borders don’t exist because perfect doesn’t.” ~Quitter, Jon Acuff.

There is no such thing as perfect.

Perfect doesn’t exist.

Perfect is not an attainable goal.

Perfect is merely a street sign at the intersection of impossible and frustration in Never Never land.

This realization is the only way I make sense of my days. Because there is no such thing as “doing it all.” And especially no such thing as “doing it all perfectly.” By my third child I am convinced of this.

The only way this family finds love and laughter in the midst of our days is by being willing to let perfect trickle through our fingers like so much sandpit sand. We don’t have perfectly nutritious meals or perfectly put away laundry. We don’t have a perfectly tidy living room or perfectly educational days. We don’t have perfect bedtimes or perfect play dates. And we certainly don’t have perfect obedience or perfect parenting.

Three children have taught me that a content household is rarely ever a perfect one.

We keep pace with one another and sometimes that pace is slow. Sometimes it requires leaving that load of dry laundry to fend for itself while parents take rowdy boys to the pool. Sometimes it requires compromising on the pasta sauce in order to get a boy’s tummy full of pasta.

For a work-at-home mom it often requires a certain degree of playroom chaos in order to have a happy work environment for kids and mom. And at the end of long days letting go of perfect means releasing my family from heavy sighs and irritable grunts at the state of the house. Instead, I’ve learned that if we created the chaos together it’s good for us to clean it up together. And that it may not be perfect if a six-year-old and three-year-old are my cleaning companions – but that the company’s willingness is worth more than a perfect end result.

Sometimes I still miss it – at least the illusion of perfect. And then a baby gurgles up at me, a boy blows me bedtime kisses from his bed stuffed full of a random collection of transformers that should have been in the play room, stuffed toys that should have been on his shelf, and snail shells that should have been outside, and my heart relaxes and I remember what I traded perfect for – a house full of real.

And perfect is rarely as interesting as real.

{Photos: From the trees above my dad’s driveway in South Africa.}
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{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    I’ll take real before perfect any day. Beautiful thoughts.

  2. 2

    Amen! My family, kids, husband, and I are far from it, but we are as God intended us to be, and if it’s good enough for him, who am I to complain?

  3. 3

    What a wonderful reminder to me this morning. I so often struggle with enjoying the “real” over the illusion of attaining the perfect.

  4. 4

    Love these thoughts. It’s true: it’s hard to let go of perfect. But real…those are tangible gifts. I’m thinking about mine after reading this post, grateful in this moment for my very real imperfect life. Thanks.

  5. 5

    We’re big on Real right now. Perfect was a vortex, a dark hole, an impossible blackness. I’m spotting rainbow colors following the showers of grace over our Very Real Days.

  6. 6

    Yes! Dying to “perfection” IS Perfection!! :)

  7. 7

    Thank you for this. After 35 years of trying to attain it, I’m tired and I need real lol.

  8. 8

    Oh Lisa-jo I just love visiting your blog. Thank you for keeping it real. As an oldest child my vision of perfection, at least when it comes to my home, is completely unattainable. That’s just life with 3 kids. The mess and clutter and noise easily puts me in a grumpy mood, unless I am able to do exactly what you have described. It’s worth it when I do, when I realise that happy children trump uncluttered floors and perfectly folded laundry. It’s good to be reminded that there are are others in the trenches with me! Hugs to you!

  9. 9

    Loved the line “what I traded perfect for – a house full of real.”

    This is so real and so true and so definitely what I needed to hear this morning!

  10. 10

    i so needed to hear this….i’m learning more and more that living “real” is so much easier than trying to keep up with my unrealistic high standards, and expecting my kids to live up to that same standard. and living real takes off the pressure…allows me to enjoy the precious gifts that i have in my children, rather than rushing through life trying to accomplish things that won’t matter for eternity. what matters for eternity is the REAL….
    so thankful for you lisa jo…

  11. 11

    Perfectionism almost proved to be the death of me until we had a son who taught me a thing or two about what’s really important. I’ll take real. :)

  12. 12

    as i learned to let go of my eating disorder, i also let go of expectations of perfect. and freedom was like a quilt covering my whole life, not just body image and eating….

  13. 13

    I needed that this morning, Lisa-Jo. Thank you.

    Peace and blessings

  14. 14

    You blessed my work at home mama heart today. Thanks, Lisa-Jo.

  15. 15

    In moving to Washington from Southern California, I have had to redefine what a “nice day” is. Back in So Cal, it meant 90* weather; in Washington it means it’s not raining, for the moment. The same has become true for my life over the past 7 years. Before kids, perfect was a spotless home and a night out at a romantic restaurant with my husband. Now, four kids later, it is laughter, cuddles and pizza at home. Haha! You’ve also inspired me to finally buy “Quitter.” :)

  16. 16

    What a lovely post! I think letting go of “perfection” is something all mothers learn to do at some time – and it was something I found very hard to do! I’ve recently just found your blog and am enjoying reading your posts – so thoughtful and lyrical are the words you choose:)
    Thanks for sharing,
    Kristina :)

  17. 17

    Perfect, or the illusion of perfect, is too exhausting. I much prefer real too! Thanks.

  18. 18

    real is much better than perfect b/c perfect is a cloud. it isn’t solid. no matter how think and fluffy it looks, it is just smoke! the first time i flew through a cloud, i was shocked! i had no idea you could fly right through those things:)

    this is one of THE most important things to believe when raising kids! preach it over and over to yourself! laundry and housework sit there and wait…always! children’s special moments don’t

  19. 19

    a HUGE THANK YOU!!!!

    I am the mom of adult men who live at home, and I have been sighing and grunting at the condition of my home for months!

    I have searched in the last year or so for perfection in the cleanliness of my home (something that has gone abscent; even neglected for 20 some years now!) all of a sudden. And these men think I’ve gone nuts!

    This post just brought the revelation that that desire for a “Perfect” home is what led to the deterioration of my drive to be a good wife and mother in this particular area!

    I resonated to your last line and it gave me peace, “I remember what I traded perfect for – a house full of real.”

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  20. 20

    love this

    your second picture is beautifully perfect… I could just envision standing there, leaning back with a camera in hand, gazing at the branches and the light-filled sky and exhaling :)

  21. 21

    I thought this was a perfectly written post. I loved it. I agree to become perfect is to life long pursuit and we are all a work in process.
    Blessings to you!

  22. 22

    I LOVEd this entry. Especially the line about a house full of real. Thank you for sharing so beautifully.

  23. 23

    Perfect. Normal. Who can really define either? :)

  24. 24

    Where’s the reality in perfection? Where’s the perfection in reality? I walked through a day today that was far from utopian, but was close to perfect because I saw people serving each other and loving eathor and laughing with each other … perfect…

  25. 25

    I so needed to read this today. I so often think that to be authentic in my faith, I must first be perfect before I can walk rightly in it. I have been so humbled to realize that it is only in my weakness that His perfection is truly magnified, as the Scriptures teach. I’ve been doing an in-depth study of Genesis and it was so freeing to realize that Lot and Abraham were considered righteous only because of their faith, not their efforts, since their attempts at life were so often misguided. Still, I beat myself up so badly over all the “shoulds” that haunt me, and I appreciated this reminder today that authentic wins out over perfect this side of Heaven (because we all know perfect only exists in He who is perfect).

  26. 26

    I love your last line – “And perfect is rarely as interesting as real.” I’ll take real over perfect every day of the week. :) Many blessings!

  27. 27

    Oh, bring on the house full of real! Perfect is highly overrated.

  28. 28

    Loved this one today. It is beautiful and I totally agree.

  29. 29

    I pinned your post. It seems that there are a lot of us struggling with perfection vs. real. Thanks for your words that struck my core.

  30. 30

    oo… the house of real. it whispers to my soul. i gave up perfect long ago… and had yet to put something in its place until now. you have brought me to tears, to my knees. thank you for sharing your honest heart. it makes me sing.

  31. 31

    A friend of mind directed me to your blog because it reminded her of the post I just wrote called “Perfect. Really?” http://dearlylovedmist.blogspot.com/2011/07/perfect-really.html. Thanks for a great post!

  32. 32

    Great post. I often say “Perfect is Boring!”

  33. 33

    Oh, AMEN! I’m just going through this right now. And I can relate to those sighs at the end of the day… I have them mid-day. It helps to realize that the mess WILL get cleaned and kids remember US not the mess…

  34. 34

    So true! Life is more beautiful when it’s lived real instead of striving to be perfect. Thanks for this post.

  35. 35

    Oh, I needed this today. Thank you for your willingness to be real.

  36. 36

    This reframes my whole day, so thank you. I love your new graphic header by the way.


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