I’m the gal who sorts markers, pencils, crayons, scissors and all into separate labeled boxes.
I like the books in order and the dvds by category and clothes hung in colored sequence. I like the day to go by clockwork, with check marks, goals completed and not many bumps in the road. I don’t care much for messes and have a hard time getting things done when there’s clutter. A perfectionist, right? And, yet, as I’ve written so many times I’m the perfectionist who tries so hard to not be the perfectionist.
Life is messy.
Real life doesn’t really care if I have the craft supplies sorted or that the island is clean or that the clothes are folded and put away perfect.
Real life is like my Christmas tree, where the kids (including one who wore his shirt backwards) so carefully decorated the bottom and I fussed over the top, falling over within one hour of us being done. Ornaments, water, lights and all in a tangled mess was the result. And, I was late. I had a dinner to go to, was straightening my hair, and all of a sudden I was faced with a curveball in the routine. The curveball was a seven and a half foot tree, heavy with ornaments, resting on my area rug in the living room with piles of Hungarian gold glass bulbs crushed underneath.
Laugh or cry.
I chose to laugh.
There really was nothing I could do, the perfectionist who tries to not be such a perfectionist, at the moment. My family was watching – waiting to see my response – and they mattered more than the bulbs scattered everywhere. Then I saw Grace’s first year Christmas 2001 ornament snapped in two. As I picked it up, my oldest daughters, who both stepped in to help me clean, looked at me and said it’s just a thing, mom. Just a thing. My perfectionist heart had to let it go. It was a thing and they mattered more. They watched me as I looked at them and told them, yes, it’s just a thing, you’re right.
And so to you, the mom who might like everything perfect or who is living in a life where nothing seems to make sense I’m telling you that you are not alone.
Despite the Hallmark movies dotting the television programming and the perfect Target toy ads and the Currier and Ives decorations at the store real life is honestly just a bit messy. And, honestly, some of the hardest years of my life have been tucked in the midst of Christmas – I don’t know if it is the ideal that is placed out there and then when things go awry it’s even more painful and difficult.
And for one who likes stuff perfect, that makes it even harder.
But sweet dear mom – you can do this in the midst.
Do you know why I love everything so perfect? It’s about me trying to control the circumstances of life.
But, sometimes, and what I’m learning through life, and perfectly illustrated with my tree falling, is that there are things that we can’t control – health, finances, relationships, trees falling, kids not fussing, snow days on days when you need to go out – and in those moments we just have to let it go and to choose to live embracing relationships and letting go of things. Even when things are messy there can still be beauty – my tree is standing this morning, with ornaments that I need to rearrange and lights that need fixing – but it’s standing.
Dear mom, whose life might not be perfect, life is still good.
You and me and all the others moms out there who love to keep stuff just a certain way have a challenge today. And that challenge? To embrace today and to not let perfectionist ideals define our happiness. You can still be joyful, creative, encouraging, content, motivated, loving, caring, hopeful, happy, determined, and full of life even when life isn’t perfect.
Look at your kids. They want you. They want you to be there in the trenches laughing with them and ignoring the crayons and markers that are mixed in a pile on the table and instead looking at them and giving them a real, joyful smile.
That matters. Most.
Motherhood is an amazing journey of learning to let go, to embrace, and to live with a heart that is content in the middle of crazy.
What you are doing right now, today, matters.
Do not let the world ever drive the importance of that from you. If you take one thing from this letter, let it be this – you matter, you matter, you matter – and being a mother is an amazing gift – and your children need you. Not the perfect mom, but you.
That is grace.
Needed grace in the midst of motherhood.
Now go. Live today.
Expect it won’t be perfect, but still embrace the beauty in today.
From me, the perfectionist letting go mom, to you.
That was lovely and so very true! Thank you!
I so needed to read this today. With a house full of sick kids and a sick mommy and so much going on with Christmas coming up soon – I really needed this. I am such a perfectionist and it can be really hard to let that part of me go!
Just made me cry. This is so what I’ve needed to hear this week! Thank you!!
I really needed this today. I am a perfectionist who hates when things don’t go as planned – not an easy trait to have with 2 young kids. I struggle with letting go every day. Thank you for the reminder, again.
Bless you all. Really. Sometimes it is so helpful to know that one is not alone in this journey. I’ve struggled for so long in letting having things being perfect determine my level of happiness and joy. It’s been lately that I’ve begun to really realize and embrace that joy can happen in the midst of chaos.
Blessings to you all today!
I am your polar opposite – I sort of fly by the seat of my pants and hope everything turns out ok. =) I encourage everyone to go with the flow this Christmas! Make the important stuff important. Jesus, kiddos, fun, memories, pictures… Speaking of pictures – I totally wanted to see your tree lying in your living room floor. Ha! Merry merry!
@Jenni – I wish, in hindsight, that I had taken a picture of that tree sitting there in my living room. I think, that if I wasn’t on such a time crunch, I probably would have. Thank you for sharing a bit of you – I need to learn from your beautiful free spirit.
This is SO ME all the way! I can hardly function when things are a total mess but, I’m aware that it’s something I need to work on. You are so right….. Life IS SO GOOD! Even in a mess!
simply whispering… thank you.
Sheri and Angela,
You are welcome. Life is good. It’s so much about perspective. Honestly, that tree crashing to the ground gave me a glimpse of perspective. While I don’t wish it to happen, I’m grateful that it did.
Blessings to you both.
Just think, from now until they are decorating their tree with their own kids, your kids will say “remember the year our tree fell over?” and have a good laugh! That’s how some of the best memories are made – by happenstance, not by plan.
Lovely post! Thank you!
@CarolynJoy – you are absolutely correct! And honestly, that ornament that broke now has a tale to go along with it. Thank you for your uplifting perspective.
Thank you so very much! I need to remember that my kids don’t care if I’m perfect. This is a lovely sentiment this time of year. Merry Christmas!
I don’t really need to leave this as anonymous, but I can’t seem to figure out any other way to do it. So not computer saavy.
This letter is truly your Christmas gift to your readers. I’m a grandma now, but oh how I missed so many opportunities with my children. I am not missing them with my grandchildren and I’m so thankful that our Lord gives second chances. I used to do a lot of speaking before I had some physical problems and I did a lot of speaking at Advent teas…the message of your letter was almost always the message that the Lord gave me to give to women, year after year after year. Because we need to hear it. Merry Christmas to you and yours. Jane in Michigan
From a former Martha – who loves being a Mary – What a lovely post. So beautiful that I had tears in my eyes.
I occasionally flip back into my Martha style but so much enjoy the wonder of our existence when I let me have a Mary heart.
Blessings, Merry Christmas,
So glad you caught him on film!
Another Christmas blessing! Thank you!
@jane – Thank you for your words. I’m sorry about the commenting thing – I’d like to get it switched but haven’t figured out the best platform that yet. But, I do truly appreciate your words and wanted you to know that you’ve blessed me with them today.
@Janis – thank you for reminding me to embrace the Mary part more. It’s so easy for me to cling to being Martha but then I see how much I miss out in my own life and the lives of my children.
Blessings to you.
I struggle so much to remember that nobody judges me even close to as harshly as I judge myself. Thank you so much for this beautiful and much needed letter today. This was my first post I ever read here, and I can’t wait to read more. 🙂
Thank you! I shared this post on my fb, I know so many mommas out there who needed this reminder!
I just found your blog last week, and I absolutely love it! Thank you for taking time to share.
Thank you all. I am so grateful to hear from each of you and appreciate the kind words of encouragement. Blessings to each of you and thank you for sharing!
Thanks so much, Rachel! I had a frustrating day because not much got accomplished. I feel like I’ve been living one of those nightmares where you keep running but never get anywhere, no matter how hard you try! Ugh. I needed your reminders. Thanks for writing!!
This is one reason why we try not to have breakable ornaments on the tree. Ours has fallen over multiple times!
Keep your eyes on the Lord! Praying for you right now!
2 Samuel 22:2-3, 7 And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. (7) In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.
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Thank you, Rosalind. Blessings to you – always good to hear from you, my friend.
Thank-you Rachel. You nailed it with “It’s about me trying to control the circumstances of life.”…. I do the exact thing and it often my need to control starts to control me! Part of the control is also about wanting to understand they “why”, and when I don’t have that information, it eats me up inside! Thanks for offering us grace, and a perspective to look beyond the incontrolable circumstances of life.
Amen! This is exactly what I needed to read today. Ive been feeling like I can’t handle the non stop need to have everything perfect all the time…lately it has me so stressed. Take a deep breath and remember what’s most important. <3 things are just things. Your daughter is so wise.
Thank you for this post!
Seriously, are you peeking into my windows!! Thank God for you and stumbling upon your blog! THANK GOD! And once again, His perfect timing….I needed this more then you will ever know. I am grateful for your honest words. I feel in order to give myself a pat on the back at the end of the day that everything has to be in its place, house clean, kids happy and fed and work done. I cant do it all and i cannot do it all perfectly. Life happens. And I refuse to let the enemies whispers of “your failing” taunt me any longer. I am enough and what I do is enough even if the house is a mess and things out of place. Grateful for grace!
From the bottom of my heart…thank you!!!
You are very welcome, Christine. Sometimes it is just important to hear and be reminded that one is not alone in this life journey. Bless you today!
As I sit here with tears streaming down my face, this came just when I needed it, thank you for the reminder. Tracy
You are welcome.
Funny, I just posted a blog today about letting go of the perfect Christmas. Of course, I’m clearly much older than you are so obviously it took me much longer to figure out that perfect never really happens. Enjoy Christmas with your wonderful, imperfect family.
I don’t know you, but you are amazing. You always know the right things to say that speak to my heart and soul. I am so blessed to have stumbled across your blog. Thank you for all you put into your posts to speak to so many women!
Thank you so much, Rachel. Three of your posts have popped up in my feed today and each feels more personal and like it was written for me. This one has me in tears. I’m desperately trying to find control in a life that feels increasingly out of control. And I want so much to enjoy this season. Your words of encouragement mean everything. Thank you