I have a confession. I like perfection. Shocker, I know. The fact is, I crave it, thrive on it. If I could breathe it, I’m sure my asthma would disappear. Forever.
I have another confession. I am not perfect. Even bigger shocker, I’m sure. The fact is, even if I could pull off a relatively good imitation of perfection on any given day (let me dream), it could only be hoped for if I was the only person to consider. You see, this imperfect woman lives in a house with nine other imperfect souls. Even if one of us (any one of us would do) could manage perfection for any sustained amount of time, the others would ensure that no one else knew it could be accomplished. Trust me.
What does that have to do with anything? Well, if I like perfection, and I do, it won’t surprise you to learn that if I can’t do it perfectly and finish it, I don’t want to start. Case in point: the laundry piled in the corner of my living room. When the family all went to bed, there were about eight or nine loads piled in one corner of the living room to be folded. Why didn’t I have the kids do their jobs you ask? I’ll tell you. Because I was too lazy. I decided tomorrow would work just fine.
But, I was sitting here thinking, “You know, I feel pretty good. I could fold some of that.” This is where the ugly beast known as Perfection (with a capital P) raised its ugly head. I could hear it whisper to me.
“You can’t finish.” This is true. I couldn’t. There was no way I’d be able to fold all of that laundry before I collapsed. I don’t like not to finish things. I want to start, work, and finish all in one block of time if at all possible. Guess what? It wasn’t, and I knew it. As insane as it sounds, I’d rather try to ignore Mt. Never Rest in the corner of my living room than to whittle it down to a Welsh hill that I like to call Layundwry Bryn (Laundry Hill). If I can’t finish, I don’t want to start. Yeah. I’m brilliant that way.
Then, I had a thought. I called Perfection on the carpet for the lie that it is. This is difficult to do for two reasons.
1. It means having to ignore a very loud and strong part of my faulty self and
2. We don’t have carpeting in this house.
But, I did something almost heretical to people like me. I gave myself permission not to finish. Why is it better never to attempt something than to get a little here and a little there? Why is it better to leave all the laundry for the kids to do when I can make a significant contribution myself? Why am I so stubborn?
I got up and did it (I also watered the plants). I folded every (or every one I could see) towel in that pile. I folded half my unders and all my PJs. I also folded sheets, blankets, and pillowcases. The washcloth container is packed with cloths and the towel container is packed with towels. I worked for about forty-five minutes and part of that time included rearranging the hallway closet shelves to FIT all the blasted towels. Then, I laid a few garments to be hung up over the remaining baskets, put the folded stuff that I can’t put away on the ottoman, and sat down. Half the job is done. I cut it by half.
Oh, all right, I confess, a part of me is dying to get over there and finish it, but I know I can’t. I’ll be miserable tomorrow if I do. I tried though. I didn’t ignore it, I did something about it. If every time I got up to go to the bathroom, I hung up a few things before I sat down again, it’d be done by dinnertime tomorrow, but I’ll have the kids finish it when I get up. The point is, it COULD be done, all by me, by dinnertime tomorrow, without any stress. I put it off, for two days, because I can’t do it all at once.
So, learn from me. It’s ok not to finish. It’s better to get half the job done and then have someone help you with the rest or do it later, than to avoid a job until you go mad.
Life is too short to let overwhelming jobs rob you of your joy. Tell Perfection to take a hike and settle for partially done. It’s better than not done at all, I assure you.