Thursday, 4 February 2010
Practices of Imperfection: I don’t want to have it all
It feels like an itchy sweater, one that’s been sitting at the back of my closet for years. I mostly forget about it, but then I spot it every now and then, drag in out, put it on.
It’s the ‘I want it all’ paradigm, and it has never, ever fit. It pinches here, it’s way too big there, it’s stretched out, tired, frayed. I tear it off again in disgust, realizing it’s hideous anyway, why would I even touch it? How could I even pull it over my head, why do I want it to fit?
Can we or can’t we have it all? Is it possible and if not, who can we blame? I only want everything — is that so much to ask?
I’m so done asking the question. (I know, because I’ve asked it plenty.)
How can I be the perfect mom and the perfect writer and the perfect wife and the perfect housecleaner and have the perfect body and be the perfect lover and also a perfect friend and be perfectly fashionable? I freaking CAN’T, because not only is it stupid impossible — it’s dangerous.
Seeking “it all,” which is just another word for perfection, is one thousand percent death and destruction. When I look back at all the times I’ve puled on “I want it all” for size, it’s a path filled with pain and shame.
My desire to be a perfect mom gets in the way of seeing my kids, just seeing them as they are. Chasing after the perfect body leads to self-loathing and (imagine that) comfort eating. Wanting a perfectly clean home has stolen precious moments away from the people I love most. Wanting to be the perfect, always-there-for-you friend only exposes my faults and then I don’t call or text or support, because I’m too wrapped up in my own head.
Do you see? Even attempting to answer the “Can you have it all?” question, just engaging with it, declares it worthy of a response.
Instead, let’s step out of the conversation altogether and get on with the business of doing life imperfectly, embracing the mess in our homes and our hearts.
If we can do that, we’ll look at this stream of news and see it for what it is: marketing to our desperation, and preying on our insecurities for profit.
Doesn’t that make you want to fight?
So fight. Fight back with your imperfectly amazing body. Gather your imperfectly lovely friends and have a conversation about how they thought you would eat up this media-created and media-fed “controversy,” how they were so wrong. Take your imperfect kids to the pool and rejoice that you’re not so hung up on projecting perfect that you can’t show a little cellulite, that you can’t get through a public tantrum or two (imperfectly, because maybe it’s your tantrum, too), so that you can create a memory and live in the gift of this moment.
Let’s show them, not by engaging in a ridiculous non-starter conversation, not by giving them yet another unique pageview, but just by displaying our imperfection and declaring ourselves worthy anyway. Worthy of love, acceptance and belonging. Without having — or even wanting or needing — “it all.”
We’ll start a revolution of love while they do all that talking.