…I read the words “imperfect, in my own perfect way” some weeks ago. They were in a daily or monthly horoscope but I can’t recall which one. The words however, stayed in my thoughts through the days and weeks that followed and I often caught myself smiling at some dumb thing I’d said or done and then I’d think, imperfect, in my own perfect way.
It was so validating, such a self-esteem booster to understand that I’m okay just as I am: flaws, warts, the occasional zit, or extra pound or three. We often go through our lives worried about how we shape up. Concerned about if we are smart enough, slim enough, or rich enough, and life slips on by while we’re worrying about these inconsequential things. I was the perfect example of this when I was younger. Perfection was always desired and never achieved. Perfection is a slippery beast. It wasn’t until I reached my middle years that I realized I’d spent years putting emphasis on the superficial.
This is a photo taken around Christmas time in 1950, in Tasmania. I’m the little blond in the lower right corner. Blond? I know. Go figure. Anyway the photo had been badly damaged and crumpled. We didn’t have many photos from our early years. So this was a treasure and one my mother gave me when I was back home in November. Mom said there was a visiting photographer and he had one of those cameras where he ducked under a black cloth. My brother loved it. My sister and I were rather more cautious.
I worked on the original for days on photoshop. I still have more to do when my eyes can stand those pixel by pixel changes. However, the guy at the developers said my job was pretty darn good. I sent a copy to all of my siblings and my mother of course. When I get time I’ll improve it some more.
This my doctored version.
Some years ago, my mother visited me in my American home. We sat around with the kids and talked and laughed and shared memories. One day Mom apologized to me saying she wished she had been a better mother. I was shocked. To me she had always been the best. I came from a large family of three brothers and three sisters. Times were hard. My mother had moved from her family home, even her state, and had no family resources to draw from in times of financial or emotional need. She married at twenty and by age thirty-two, had given birth to seven children. She raised us on her own, in small towns in Australia, moving us to wherever my father’s work took us next. My father was away for weeks at a time. I remember us all crowded into my mother’s large bed during snowy weather and scary thunderstorms. She’d tell us stories of her hometown, grand adventures of her childhood, siblings, and parents, who we had yet to meet. I was twelve years old when we moved to the area my parents had grown up in, and while my mother’s stories were much more exciting than the real life location, it was also wonderful to see the places and people from her stories.
Whatever it was in my mother’s thoughts that spurred that apology I’ll never know. I told her at the time that she was the best and that my memories were of her love and consideration. I also told her that all we can ever hope for as a parent is that we do the best job we can possibly do in raising our children. I’m not about to raise the subject with her again as she is much older now, but if she ever broaches it, I’ll just smile and say, “You are imperfect, in your own perfect way, and so am I.”