“Perfect is the enemy of good.” That image of perfect comes from so many places. Books and movies, holiday parties, even memories. We whitewash our memories, change them, push away the bad parts and amplify the good parts. When I do that, and then I try to hold up as a standard my memory of how things used to be, I’m really creating a complete fiction and pretending it is an attainable reality. I think about five or six years ago, and I remember clean laundry and bathrooms, and checkmarks on chore lists. I don’t remember how there were still piles of clutter that my eyes just slid past whenever I walked in a room. I don’t remember how depressing it was every time I came home from a trip and saw my poor house with eyes fresh from a Presidential Suite at Fox River. I don’t remember the fights and arguments and yelling over getting the kids to pick things up. I don’t remember how I had no friends, I never went anywhere or saw anybody but Brian and sometimes Beth and Dave.
When I go to somebody’s house and they know I’m coming, I don’t know what their house really looks like in between. I may see it for a holiday party, but I don’t see it at 10:30am on a random Thursday afternoon when the baby has been sick all night. I don’t see the days leading up to the party spent madly cleaning everything in sight, shoving clutter where it can’t possibly be seen or escape for a few hours, scrubbing and washing and decorating, and I don’t see the days after, with the dishes nobody wants to wash and the clutter that starts creeping out again.
Nobody lives on a TV set. Books aren’t real. Martha Stewart is a fiction. FlyLady doesn’t have six kids at home with disabilities, and she doesn’t homeschool. Besides, how many science fiction novels have either of them read this year? How many fantasy lives have they lived casting magic spells and riding flying dragons? How many planets have they explored from the warmth of a pile of blankets and pillows? Have they ever waited for years to hear their six-year-old finally say, “My name is —-” for the first time? Have they ever dealt with three newborns 24/7, alone and scared?
And round and round in a circle we go, as I know there are others who look at my house, my kids’ education, my knitting and crochet skills and collection, my music, my sewing, my magick, and think I’m somebody to look up to. They don’t see the days I spend in tears, from pain or frustration or just being overwhelmed. They don’t see my crushed budget, the mess downstairs, the Fruity Pebbles my kids ate for breakfast, the thousand little failures leading up to one success.
While it’s good to have ambitions, it’s good to have goals, we all need to take our ideals down off their pedestals every so often. We need to see the cracks, chips, and dust that we can’t see when they’re way up high, being admired and all. We need to get to know our enemies.