I have decided to address a subject some of us loathe, some of us cringe away from, and some of us just wonder about. I was visiting with some friends and we were chatting about our busy lives, housework, kids, chaos, etc. The usual. Then, one of them said, while looking down at her toddler who was trying to crawl up her leg, using her pants as a tow rope, "Could you please just tell us something about yourself that makes you seem less perfect?"
I paused, not sure who she was talking to. The other woman looked at me and agreed. "Yes, Krista, please."
"Are you talking to me?!"
They acknowledged that they were. I looked at them both, then burst out laughing. I asked them what would make them say that. Their answers included, as they wrestled their children, observations that my house was always clean (I snorted), and beautiful (comfortable), I was slender (so?). I stopped them.
"Do you want to come over to my house right now?! The sink is full of dishes. I am so tired at the end of the day, I seldom do dishes after dinner. I do them in the morning, or even later. And, for some reason, I noticed there are blankets all over the house, in little mounds all over. I am 3 days behind in laundry because I have been reading. Sometimes, most times, after getting after my kids about something, I realize that there is no way I would talk to them like that if other people were in the house. Not even my Mom. And I bet you about 80% of my home decor is hand-me-downs from my Mom and sister, which, don't get me wrong, I love..."
Mentally, I was making an even longer list (prideful, easily distracted, hard-headed, too shy, a dependency on Twizzlers). But, by the time I got to this point, I could see that they were calmed down a bit. So, I got deeper.
I shared that I live in almost constant pain, a result from a car crash and back injury years ago. I admitted that sometimes I get so frustrated with the pain that I cry, and wonder why I still have to suffer. I told them that my marriage is strong, and wonderful, but that hasn't always been the case. I reminded them that I had lost a child, a baby girl who only lived a couple of hours and died in our arms. So, no, I wasn't perfect. I told them that going through these things, these very imperfect trials made me realize how strong I am, much stronger than I had believed, and maybe that was what they sensed from me. They listened.
Comparing ourselves to other women, as easy as it is, is so wrong. It hurts us to do that. We don't know what others have been through, and everyone lives a life, full of all kinds of struggles and imperfections. No matter what we look like, or appear to be. I read something once, and I don't know who said it, but the meaning was this: Perfection is not an end; it is a journey... it is not a noun; it is a verb... it is not a result; it is a process.
Shannon, my friend who had approached the subject in the first place, is a mother of 6 children under the age of 10. Her husband is a doctor and works long hours and is on call often. Her home is peaceful and welcoming when I have visited. She ran a half-marathon this spring. I had recently told my mom, who was asking about my friends who gave me a birthday lunch, that Shannon was one of the most beautiful women I know. She bakes.
Karma moved here not too long ago, and immediately made a place for herself in our circle. She is open and honest, and has no trouble expressing her thoughts, questions, and concerns. She cares deeply about her family and it shows. She is just eager to learn and share and doesn't hold back. She is going to have a baby in a few months, her 4th, and is just letting herself get excited because she has lost one, too. I enjoy her contributions to our discussions in book club, and love that she looks you right in the eyes when she is talking to you. Every time I talk to her, I feel I know her better.
I know so many beautiful women who are just trying. We are so hard on ourselves. I think if we saw in ourselves, what other people see, we wouldn't compare so much. And if we knew what those other women are going through, we would thank heaven for our own short-comings. It is a lesson I am still learning. In all my imperfection.