The supportive murmurs of, “Perfect enough,” “Considering all you do…” and “They won’t remember” hit me and then slid right down, landing in an unhelpful puddle at my feet. I’m not trying to please my kids, my husband or society. I have an internal barometer of what’s ok that cannot be quieted. Not unlike the dogs that maniacally chase their own tales, stopping only sporadically to breathe, bark and start up again. They spin because they must. I chase and chase and chase a perfection that I continuously nudge ahead of what I accomplish because I don’t know any different.
Draft more copy.
Call more clients.
Do more crafts.
Iron the the pillow cases and flat sheets.
Scour the fridge shelves.
Purge the snack cabinet.
Sweep the garage.
The things range from the productive to the absurd. Even knowing it’s absurd, I consider the tasks and note each time when I fail to do them. It is relentless.
There was a dance this weekend, a Snow Ball to be exact. It was at the school that Finley and Avery attend and I was about as excited about going as, well, honestly, I wasn’t. The tally of parties we have not taken to them has grown to such epic proportions I have thought a) we need to compensate and b) what made everyone get busy one late winter 2, 5 and 7 years ago damnit? My motivation was pure, unadulterated guilt.
We were going.
The usual collision of circumstances that would normally make us bag it of course happened—Sean had a gig, my ear infection raged on, more snow and on and on. I had not even gotten out of bed when I heard the first, “Is it time to go to the ball now?’ of the day. I resolved to go and be happy about it.
The girls have spent far too much time pining for something. It’s been too cold to play out for very long, playdates have seemed to hard to schedule (so far that is something I don’t judge myself for) and as much as they adore each other, sometimes there’s no snapping out of it without getting out.
We fussed over dresses, picked out shoes and planned how to do our hair. The dresses were a combination of costumes and flower girl dresses. The hair styles were designed by the girls; Briar’s was braid upon braid followed by pony tails, a headband. She allowed herself to be talked out of the full on wedding veil. Once their outfits were set, they set their sites on me. They ran to my closet and vetoed every dress I’ve ever worn to work, landing together on the sequined dress that was one of two purchased for a recent event.
“This one!” they screamed. I laughed, standing in stockings and a bra. “Please, mama. You will look sooooo bee-yooo-tee-full. Really. Like totally.” They did this all stroking my legs and sides as if to rub away the protestations. “Girls, it’s really not appropriate. How about this one?”
“Mom, this is a ball, can’t you be at the ball with us? Don’t just come, you gatta dance.” Three shades of blue waited for my answer. The swishing of their dresses filled the room as they rocked from side to side waiting.
I whisked a dress out of the closet and as I pulled it on I realized that going wasn’t enough. You can cross things off the list when you are talking about bed linens, not when little girls and a ball are involved. And so it was that I applied a little extra make up, wore the “super fancy” tights and went to a ball with the only rule being to have fun.
For Finley the fun was in observing.
Avery’s delight came in the form of dance-marching in her gown.
It was twirl after twirl for Briar.
When Sean dashed into the dance with 12 minutes to spare, every failure washed away. We took our daughters to a ball, with gowns and sparkles. I knew unequivocally that I had measured with the right stick.
It was not my perfect, it was theirs.