I’m going to share something very personal with you. My all-time favourite words are PERFECT and NOW. I think these words often, and they get me through my day. They connect me directly to my heart and bring my attention to who I am and what I love in life. These words are the reason I parent the way I do. They are the reason I stand tall. But probably not in the way you think – so read on. I’d love to know if these ideas make your heart sing, too.
PERFECT and NOW
We hear the word ‘Perfect’ often in our day. It is an incredibly hard word to describe and my best attempt is to say perfect means best ideal of everything with relation to a specific subject. It is quoted with reference to absolutely everything. It is a very versatile, dynamic and subjective word. With relation to parenting, and everything else for that matter, most of us accept that we are not perfect but we are doing the best we can, which is just as good.
After learning what I have learned, I now feel this view of perfection is oh-so-strange. It never used to, but now this idea just wriggles around inside of me, tickles beneath the skin, and bursts through the seams. I cannot digest the way we put perfection in a place where we can only dream of becoming it, or living it, for a brief moment one day in the future. What on earth is perfection, anyway?
What I have learned is this. We are perfect. Each and every one of us. Right Now. All different. Perfect.
Perfection is not uninterrupted happiness. It is not money and the millionaire lifestyle. It is not a life without grief, loss or sadness. It is not the best-behaved, most intelligent, cleanest and tidiest child. Or 3 of these children. It is not the amount you are paid at work (because we always want more) or the crop with a sensational yield year after year. It is not the mum who earns an income whilst raising 3 children at home in a spotless house with a pantry full of organic produce. Perfection is not a brilliant flawless photo, or a new toy that works as promised and makes your children smile. Perfection is not reached by looking amazing everyday, and it is not represented by the family dog who wipes his feet at the front door and smells like tea-tree and eucalyptus.
Perfection is life. Now. Perfection is what we are experiencing and who we are, how we are feeling and creating our lives, now.
Everything that takes place in each of our lives is essential to framing our life and is the essence of who we truly are. The life we are living right now is perfect and is taking us to our next perfect place. Even the saddest, most difficult times are perfect, as they help us define who we are, show others who we are, reach out and connect to others, and teach us what is important in our lives to assist us with decision-making in the future. We can imagine what we want our lives to look like in the future and strive for more – but as for now, it is perfectly where we are meant to be right now. We are perfectly who we are meant to be right now. And so are the people in our lives, and so is the world. Everything is as it is meant to be, right now.
As I write this I feel compassion for anyone who is sick or in a bad situation, or has lost someone they love. Nothing feels perfect when you’re sad or when someone is suffering unfairly. It’s impossible to see reason in many of the pains we experience. Unfortunately experiencing worry, fear and loss is apart of the human experience and feeling emotions deeply is part of the journey of living life. And it makes us more confident in our lifestyle choices.
7 years ago my husband brought home the most gorgeous, big-eyed, fat-pawed, crazy, irrational, sensational puppy. Everyone adored her. Her pedigree name was Diva and we were teased that she was exactly that. We received all kinds of advice and opinions on how we should train and discipline her. She was a terror and ate shoes, bit ankles, scratched the floor and couch, ate paperwork. Totally: adorable. We loved her even more every time she did something incredibly unconventional. She was perfect on day 1 and became more and more perfect every day. No one else’s opinions mattered, and we lived with her by following our heart.
Without dog school, and by being treated like a princess (sleeping on our bed and couch, sitting on back seat in car, frequently being gifted with soft squeaky toys, going everywhere with us, and being called our daughter), she grew into a caring, devoted and responsible dog. We were told we were spoiling her. I asked them to redefine ‘spoiling’ as the literal meaning is to ruin. She was anything but ruined. She was everything we wanted her to be. Not everything someone else wanted her to be – not perfect for someone else. Perfect for US. The best, sweetest, well-behaved dog in the world.
Our perfect dog died a few months ago when suddenly ill with cancer. I knew, when she was sick in the weeks beforehand, that whatever help we gave her, no matter the outcome, was perfect for us and for her. Because everything we did, and she did, was with love. We couldn’t control the outcome. But what we were all experiencing was still as it was meant to be. Grieving for her still, I know what has happened was perfect. I still sob and feel so sad but accept what has happened was perfect. It was apart of all our journeys and has framed who we are and how we will live in the future.
And on reflection, I’m so happy we followed our hearts and didn’t care a bit when others criticized or shared their opinion on how we disciplined (or didn’t discipline, rather) our dog. We followed our hearts and lived happily. When someone you love passes away, you realize how important it is to just follow your heart and live happily.
If you often feel that there are standards in parenting and that you are being judged, or you read and hear advice that you feel is telling you how you ‘should’ parent, you may find that you are unconsciously setting yourself standards and measuring your success against your standards. Please know this: You are perfect already. Ideas and advice, however communicated to you, are just ideas and advice. You listen and decide and respect (stand-by) your decisions. Love you and everything about you as a parent because no matter what you are doing, you are doing your best and are already perfect.
Everything is as it’s meant to be right now. Perfect, and now.
Day by day we aim to repair our bodies and have trust, faith and optimism for the future. You can join me as I walk to wellness in the private facebook group Joanna Haley Homestead (Journey to Wellness)
Joanna Haley, Author