There are little finger prints all over my house.
They are on mirrors and windows. Some how they are on the floors and tables too. There are crayon marks on the rugs and tiny little foot prints left behind on my neatly made bed.
It is impossible to keep these spaces clean from the small person who currently heads our household. I could follow up him around with a bottle of Lysol and glass cleaner but that seems to be asking for problems (see the incident where he sprayed himself in the face with wood cleaner).
My husband and I sometimes laugh, or sometimes get close to tears as we remember the days of yore. The days before we would step in something wet at least once a day. With two senior dogs and a two-year-old we have practically given up on true cleanliness and now accept “not disgusting” as our new normal.
The other day, as I surveyed my home after returning from a long business trip, I realized that these little marks are little signs of life. Of happiness and exploration. Of jumping and playing. Defying and pushing boundaries. These are the signs that we are doing what we can to help our son play, respect and learn.
Perfectionism is something that I struggle with internally. I often find that if something is not up to the random standard that I have created out of thin air, then it is a failure. I spend an immense amount of time beating myself up for not achieving some impossible standard. Whether it is through my work, my physical self, the look of my home or any number of things, I doubt my ability to succeed daily.
But, having a small child does not allow for the space of perfectionism. Or I should say, it redefines what perfection is in one’s life.
Perfection is now defined differently. Perfection is the sound of my son saying “Hi Mama” when he looks at me. Perfection is the top speed run my son does in order to hug his daddy at the end of the day. Perfect is the way my son smells after a bath and the way he states without doubt that I will keep him safe when he is scared or needs assurance.
Perfection is seeing my son grow and learn every day.
For several months now, Ben has been obsessed with the car wash. He would ask to go every day, but for many months was scared to the point of crying as we went through. Eventually, he learned to not be scared of the noises and the spray, but he would still ask to hold our hand for the duration. I would point out how the big blue brushes look like Cookie Monster and he laughed, but still he held tight.
Yesterday as I filled up with gas and he asked to go through the car wash yet again, I conceded. He very thoughtfully asked to hold mama’s hand, but half way through he let go and just looked out the window and marveled at the colors of the soap and the “rain”. While I knew this was what I wanted, for him to no longer be scared, I also felt my heart take a beat. He had figured it out on his own and didn’t need to hold my hand. He had determined this on his own, perfectly. And once again, my definition of perfection changed a bit.