Thursday, June 3, 2010

Imperfectionists Welcome Here

Do you live in a house where the piles resemble potential archeological digs? Does your laundry live on the couch waiting to be folded? Folded? People actually fold their clean clothes? Yes, and some people also put it away in drawers before the kids dig through the folded piles. Do you wash pots as you need them, as in right when you need them, at dinner time, to boil water. Do you clear a place on the couch when friends stop by so they have a place to sit down?

Some of my absolute favorite people have messy houses. In fact, the coolest people I know live in unconventional, creative, cluttered spaces that feel comfortable the minute I walk in. I feel at home in other people's chaos, but I feel stressed, embarrassed, and even defeated by my own. When I look at my house, I feel like a failure. And here's the truth, my house will never be clean enough.

It will never be clean enough.

Do you have some area of your life where you feel "not enough." Is there something that makes you feel like a failure? You don't cook well enough. You aren't thin enough. You don't make enough money. You aren't patient enough with your children.

Whose standard aren't we living up to? Whose voice is saying those words? Dig deep, be honest. It's a pretty safe guess that you have a parent living in your head, belittling you, telling you you aren't enough. If it isn't a parent, it's probably a teacher or some other adult from your childhood.

My house will never be clean enough. It's true. In my mind if it isn't perfect, it isn't clean enough. Since it's never going to be perfect, it will never be clean enough to meet the perfectionistic expectations of that inner parental voice. It seems that I can give up completely and condemn myself to a life of unhappiness living in a filthy home, or I can embrace the imperfect. I can tell that voice I have had enough of impossible expectations that don't match the person I've become and the life I've chosen to live. I can experiment and play, and find the balance of chaos and cleanliness that makes me feel comfortable and at home.

It's o.k. to be imperfect. It's good to be imperfect. There is great beauty in the imperfections. For me it's time to embrace the imperfect, to admit that I will never ever be perfect and I'm okay with that. In fact, I don't think there's any other way to be. We are all imperfect.

Today my house is clean enough. Today I am thin enough. Today I am good enough.
Imperfection rocks!

My greatest hope is that my children will grow up knowing that they are enough, in this moment, as they are, no striving necessary, no approval needed, with only their own voice inside their heads.


  1. Thank you for this!!!!!! ♥♥♥

  2. Awesome. .. A tear trickled from my eye as I received this reminder at the most perfect moment

  3. My perfectionism (which, ironically, resulted in a really dirty messy house since I was so overwhelmed that I never even got started) has been fading gradually as the years go by. I am always reassured when I go to other people's houses that are messy: their house is messy, and it's OK! They have not been rejected because of their messy house -maybe I won't be either! Of course I will still have anxiety attacks and clean like mad when my mom's coming for a visit...hmmm, I wonder whose standard I'm not living up to? I wonder whose voice I'm hearing saying it's not good enough?

    I've been enjoying reading your and your husband's blogs these last few days :) Thanks for your writing!

  4. Argh. I meant to leave those Christine Kane links on this post. Oh, well, I'm imperfect. Here they are again:

    Allowing imperfection
    You might need to become an imperfectionist if