Sunday, April 27, 2008

Thoughts on Earthly Perfection

My husband left first, with all our kids, to deliver them to a friend's house and an Oliver rehearsal. Bantam17 stayed behind to help vacuum, while I touched up the dusting, the bathroom, the mirrors and windows. We had just shown the house a few days earlier, so things were still in pretty good shape. Hey! I have time to Magic Eraser the marks off the basement walls, I bet, before this showing today....

Later, Bantam17 and I left at the same time, he on his way to the library on his bicycle and I heading to Panera for a well-earned cup of coffee. As I pulled out of the driveway, praying for favor with these potential buyers, I reflected with satisfaction that the house was about as perfect as I could make it.

And yet it was not perfect. There were a dozen more things I could have done if I’d had a couple more hours—dusting ceilings for cobwebs, using the attachment to vacuum the edges of the carpet by each wall, wiping down light switches and doorknobs. With a few more weeks, we could have power-washed and restained the deck, spread fresh mulch in the flower beds, re-organized the garage, re-sealed the driveway—maybe even finally finished doors and trim in the basement.

Does the pursuit of perfection ever end?

Is it an end worth pursuing?

I’ve been thinking a lot about these questions during this season of my life. In many ways, this is as close to housewifely perfection as I’ve ever come. My home has never looked better or more inviting. And yes, there is a certain satisfaction in enjoying the fruits of my labors.

But am I truly enjoying this near-perfection? No, I constantly worry about marks on my freshly painted walls and fingerprints on my freshly washed windows. I continually pick up crumbs from the freshly vacuumed floors. I obsessively dust and straighten pillows and books. When I look around, I see not a beautiful house to enjoy, but a demanding illusion of perfection to maintain.

(To be continued...)

Part Two
Part Three


Summer said...

Jeanne, welcome to the way I live everyday! And yes, it's so nice to see a clean house --- BUT I can only enjoy it for a couple of minutes because spills are inevitable and dirt is inevitable and living in my house . . . well, it's inevitable. And the worrying . . . it's enough to drive a woman crazy. I've really had to come to terms with myself lately on some of these issues. In fact, I've always admired your ability to juggle it all and not worry. You've always seemed so calm when I'm always so scattered.

Not sure what all of this comment is really supposed to mean -- it was just was I was feeling as I was reading your post.

You're doing great!

Becoming Me said...

Are you pursuing perfection to try to sell your house or is it the way now you want to live? I know first hand that the road to perfection is just a dangerous treacherous illusion.

At A Hen's Pace said...

Becoming me--

"...a dangerous treacherous illusion"--exactly. I'm kind of saying that, if I ever thought this was what I wanted, I'm finding that it's not worth the price! But there's part two coming....


You're on the right track by realizing, as you said, that the spills, the dirt, the crumbs, the fingerprints ARE all inevitable. That's the first step to calmness. :) Thanks for telling me that you see that in me--I'm not always calm on the inside, I'm afraid.


Mrs. A said...

I agree, attempting perfection is very dangerous. I do believe God is a God of order and that we should continue to strive for order, in all areas. I'm sure my husband gets tired of me saying's been a frequent topic of our conversations, lately!! But a few years ago, I started praying that God help me get more organized in all the tasks of "keeping the house" and know that he is helping me in that area, even if it is little by little. I say that after passing by my "MOUND" on my desk to check my email! Just another way of knowing that I can do nothing apart from HIM or HIS strength.

mary said...

Time has a way of shifting all kinds of illusions. Not so long ago(so it seems) my children inquired as to the possibility that I may have obsessive compulsive behaviors. This was just because I insisted they keep their rooms neat and tidy and that we kept the place reasonably disease free. It appeared I was obsessive as I was the only one on board with this theory and hence I did most of the cleaning (re - doing their effort, usually). It was a lose - lose situation. So, I changed tactics and went with the - 'If you can't beat them , join them'. Now they ask if I have no pride at all? Perfection? Doesn't work for me. I tried to be perfect in my obsessions (way to exhausting) and now I realize that too be a perfect slob is way too depressing. Time to get that overdue spring clean underway (It's beginning of Winter here).